Hyderabadi Chicken Dum Biryani (My family recipe)

Chicken Dum Biryani!! Need I say more?? Tender and juicy masala coated chicken pieces along with aromatic pearly rice is a rich and complete meal with blast of flavors . This legendary dish from from India is an art to make and a joy to savor. There are several variations of this dish from different parts of India and today, I am sharing my family recipe for Hyderabadi style Dum Biryani. I have enjoyed this dish from my childhood for every festival, celebration and  gathering. This Hyderabadi dish itself has many variation. So, this is like a hands-down recipe from my mother with a few extra touches from me.

First, the chicken is marinated in mixture of herbs, spices, ginger garlic paste and yogurt overnight. It is topped with parboiled rice in layers with barista (brown onions) and few other flavoring ingredients.The Hyderabadi variation is spicy and fragrant as it contains many spices. Black cumin (shahi jeera), cloves, cardamom and cinnamon are considered the main spices for Biryani and barista (brown onions) as the essence.

As this is an elaborate recipe, I am breaking down this into four parts-Marination, Rice Preparation, Brown Onions and Layering. I am also including recipe for garam masala which I freshly make for Biryani. See the “Notes” section for alternative ingredients and steps.  Feel free to write to me in the comments section if you have any question. Share your pictures on facebook/instagram if you used this recipe. Enjoy your Biryani!!


Hyderabadi Chicken Dum Biryani

Servings: 6-7

(Note: US based measuring cups n spoons used, 1 Cup=240 ml, 1 tbsp=15 ml and 1 tsp=5 ml approx.)

For Garam Masala: 

(Note: Use equal quantities in weight of cloves, cardamom and cinnamon. Approx., 10 gms of each. You can ignore the other spices if they are not available.)

Cloves (Laung): 2o

Cardamom (Elaichi): 20

Cinnamon Stick (Dalchini): 4 one inch sticks

Black Cumin (Shahi jeera): 1 tsp

Peppercorns (Kali miri): 1 tbsp

Black Cardamom (Badi elaichi): 3

Star Anise (Chakr phool): 2

Mace (Javitri): 1

Nutmeg (Jayphal): a small piece

Bay Leaf (Tej patta): 1 small or half of big leaf

For Marination:

Chicken (with bone): 1 kg or 2 lb, large size pieces

Ginger Garlic Paste: 4 tbsp

Salt: 3 tbsp (As required. It requires more as it needs to cover the rice too.)

Red Chili Powder: 1.5 tbsp

Turmeric Powder: 0.5 tsp

Coriander Powder: 2.5 tbsp

Cumin Powder: 1 tbsp

Ground Garam Masala: 2 tbsp

Full Fat Yogurt/Curd: 1.25 cups, thick

Green Chili: 9-10, slit length wise

Lemon Juice: 2 tbsp

Mint Leaves: 1/4 cup

Coriander Leaves: 1/4 cup

For Rice:

Long Grain Premium Basmati Rice: 4 cups (1 kg approx.)

Salt: 5 tbsp

Bay Leaves (Tej patta): 2-3

Black Cumin (Shahi Jeera): 0.5 tbsp

Clarified Butter (Ghee)/Oil : 1 tbsp

Water: 24 cups (As required to parboil the rice)

For Brown Onions:

Red Onions: 3 medium size, sliced finely

Clarified Butter(Ghee)/Melted Butter: 1/2 cup

Vegetable Oil: 1/2 cup

Salt: a pinch

For Layering:

Mint Leaves: 3/4 cup, chopped finely

Cilantro/Coriander: 3/4 cup, chopped finely

Saffron: 1/2 tsp, soaked in 3 tbps of warm milk

Leftover oil and ghee mixture used for brown onions: 3/4 cup approx.

Ground Garam Masala: 2 tbsp

Lemon Juice: 4 tbps

Rose water: 1 tbsp

Kewra water (Screw pine): 1 tbsp  (Use less if you have essence)


  1. For Garam Masala, dry roast all the spices (mentioned in the corresponding ingredient section) on low flame until fragrant and ground to fine powder. You will require 4 tbsp of this powder in this recipe.The rest can be stored in air tight jar for other recipes that calls for garam masala.
  2. For Marination, wash the chicken well in plenty of water. Leave it in sieve for few minutes to drain all the water. Apply small slits with sharp knie on chicken pieces with more flesh.
  3. Mix all the ingredients listed (in corresponding ingredient section) and massage into the chicken. Cover and rest in refrigerator overnight or at least 1 hour.
  4. For Rice preparation, wash the rice in cold water for two to three times until water runs almost clear. Soak for 1 hour.
  5. In a large pot (at least 8 quart size), boil plenty of water on high heat. Season it with ghee/oil, salt, shahi jeera and bay leaves (as mentioned in corresponding ingredient section)
  6. When water comes to rolling (full) boil, add drained rice and mix lightly.
  7. In one minute, take out 1 cup of rice separately, which will be used in first layer over the chicken. In another one minute or so, you will again see rolling (full) boils as shown in picture. Switch off the flame and drain off the water and transfer rice to wide plate/container to cool. (Note: Everything should be done on high flame. It happens in just 2-3 minutes, so be ready with all the things required like strainer and wide container)
  8. Another way to check the rice is, if you press the rice grain between index and thumb fingers, it should break into 3 pieces. Then you can drain all the water.
  9. For Brown Onions, Heat 1 cup of oil and ghee in frying pan or biryani vessel on medium flame. Add onion slices and pinch of salt. Fry until golden brown. You need to stir the onions occasionally. Takes 10 minutes.
  10. Lay the brown onions on paper towel in single layer to crisp up. Collect the remaining oil and ghee mixture in steel/glass bowl. This oil mixture has flavor of brown onions and is used later in the layering process.
  11. For Layering, grease the heavy bottomed vessel ( at least 7-8 quart size) with oil. Get all the ingredients for the layering ready along with marinated chicken and rice- 1.Brown onions, 2. Oil and ghee mixture, 3. Ground garam masala, 4. Lemon juice, 5. Saffron milk, 6. Chopped mint and coriander.
  12. Add marinated chicken to vessel, top with a little of all the 5 ingredients mentioned in above step. Like, 2-3 tablespoons of brown onions, 2 tablespoons of oil mixture, half teaspoon of garam masala, teaspoon of lemon juice, half teaspoon of saffron milk, and, some chopped mint and coriander. Top with one cup of rice that was set aside for first layer.
  13. Add remaining parboiled rice in two or three layers, topping each layers the same way as mentioned in above step.
  14. Top the last layer also with same ingredients along with teaspoon of cardamom powder, rose water and kewra water for added flavor and aroma. You can also add two teaspoons of ghee on top too.
  15. Wet a kitchen towel and squeeeze off excess water. Spread on biryani vessel and cover with lid. This step is practiced in my family to prevent steam from escaping. Take a heavy vessel or weight and put on the lid as shown in the picture.
  16. Let the biryani cook on high flame (not highest) for 5 minutes and low flame on 25-30 minutes. If your vessel is not thick enough, place a tawa or flat non-stick pan in the bottom for last 25 minutes.
  17. Alternatively, you can even place it in oven for 400ºF for 10 minutes and 300ºF for 45 minutes.
  18. To check if Biryani is done, check the bottom layer for water. If there is no water, the process is done. Check for piece of chicken with fork. Also, check the rice grain. If any of the above seems not done, cover and cook for 10 more minutes on low flame. If it still feels not done, add 2 or 3 tablespoons of hot water and cover cook for 10 minutes on low flame.
  19. Serve immediately with mirch ka salan, raita and salad.




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