Possibly the best known rice dish in India, biryani can be found throughout the country, although there are subtle variations from region to region. But one thing is consistent: the process to do it is long and complex. My family’s prized recipe transforms biryani into a quick and accessible dish. This meal is made from fragrant basmati rice, seasoned tender chicken, and caramelized onions, and can be cooked in under an hour while maintaining the same authentic flavor and texture as traditional versions.
Chicken Biryani is one of my favorite dishes and definitely one of the most requested meals in my house. We often pair it with refreshing raita and a splash of fresh lime for a filling meal.
There are many variations of this recipe that originate from various states in India. My favorite, of course, is the one my mom made that I grew up eating. Spiced hot chicken biryani, with freshly ground spices, caramelized onions, marinated tender chicken cooked over long grain basmati rice.
For many years we have enjoyed my mother’s best Chicken Dum Biryani. Cooked in homemade ghee, homemade garam masala, fresh herbs, and basmati rice, this Biryani is everyone’s favorite.
What is Biryani?
Biryani is a rice dish with vegetables, chicken or fish marinated in yogurt and hot spices such as turmeric, red chili powder, and garam masala. It is traditionally simmered by layering marinated meat or vegetables over rice and topped with caramelized onions, aromatic saffron, and fresh coriander or mint.
Biryani is said to be originally a Persian dish that eventually made its way to South Asia. Since then there have been many regional variations of this majestic dish based on cooking methods.
Dum Biryani – Layers of partially cooked meat and rice are added to a heavy-bottomed pot that is tightly sealed with raw batter so the flavors and steam don’t escape. Then it is simmered for hours. This is also how my mom made her Biryani on the stovetop.
Kacchi Biryani – Raw meat is cooked by layering over rice and then simmering.
Pukka Biryani – Partially cooked meat and rice are layered and cooked.
As biryani became popular in South Asia, several regional variations of this dish appeared. Starting with the Kacchi Hyderabadi Dum Biryani style, the Malabar Pukka Biryani from the Indian coast, the Calcutta Biryani with potatoes from East India, the spicy Chettinad Biryani from the southern states and the tasty and spicy Sindhi Biryani from Sindh, Pakistan. Many more variations and recipes, but one thing that is common is that they are all incredibly tasty!
My version of the EASY Chicken Biryani recipe using Instant Pot:
Given how much we enjoy Chicken Biryani, I had to try Mom’s recipe in the Instant Pot. After a few tries, I was able to simplify it so much that it can be easily made for a weekday meal using the Instant Pot. This is my humble attempt at making Mom’s amazing chicken biryani.
I love the chicken biryani that cooks tender and moist, while the rice is fluffy with each grain separated. There are 2 ways to cook biryani depending on the cut of chicken you have.
Using boneless, skinless chicken thighs: I first partially cook the chicken by pressure cooking for 4 minutes. Next, layer over the soaked and drained rice and pressure cook both the chicken and rice for 6 minutes.
Using small pieces of bone-in chicken or boneless thighs: Skip the first 4 minutes of pressure cooking and instead sauté the marinated chicken for 2-3 minutes. Then layer the soaked and drained rice and pressure cook for 6 minutes.
Pat the chicken dry before marinating to prevent access to liquids.
Marinate the chicken for at least 20 minutes.
Use nonfat plain yogurt for the marinade.
Use fresh garam masala. Homemade garam masala works best!
Deglaze the pot with a little marinated chicken to remove the browned bits from the sautéed onions. This will help bring the Instant Pot to pressure and will also prevent the “BURN” signal.
Deglaze the pot once more just before adding the rice.
Make sure all the rice is under the liquids before closing the Instant Pot.
It is normal for the top layer of the rice to look a little undercooked. Just fluff up the top layer and then gently mix the biryani with a silicone spatula.
This recipe makes Biryani medium spicy. For extra spiciness, add jalapeño. Or add another teaspoon of garam masala to the chicken.
Lastly, while the Instant Pot Sauté feature works great for true one pot cooking, you can also caramelize onions using a stovetop in a nonstick skillet. This will speed up the process and also prevent the stainless steel insert from burning, which can lead to a “BURNED” notice on newer Instant Pot.
Here are my step by step instructions:
Let the chicken marinate for at least 30 minutes. You can also marinate ahead of time, up to 12 hours in the refrigerator.I often cook this meal in one pot when I have an impromptu gathering with friends. And spicy Indian food always leaves you in the mood for something sweet. These are some of my favorite desserts:
Kheer instant rice
Did you love the warm flavors of Biryani? You may want to try my other Instant Pot Biryani recipes:Vegetable biryani
Chickpea Biryani with Vegan Options
Healthy Brown Rice Biryani
Low Carb Cauliflower Chicken Biryani
Thanks to everyone who has tried this recipe. It has become so popular that when I published The Essential Indian Instant Pot Cookbook, I was asked to include this recipe in the cookbook as well. I hope you enjoy over 75 modern recipes with authentic Indian flavors in my best selling book.