Chicken Biryani Using a Rice Cooker

Biryani is an infamous dish in the eastern part of the world and is often served during celebrations and parties. It is a one-pot rice dish of basmati rice, fragrant spices, herbs, meat or vegetables, and a lot of oil or ghee (clarified butter). There are many different varieties of biryani as well as methods of preparation that vary from region to region. Traditionally, biryani is cooked on low-heat in a biryani vessel and a lot of work is required to yield great results, but for convenience I make do with my recipe below and a rice cooker.  I use far less oil and ghee that is normally called for, and I always use lean, chicken breast. Being Sri-Lankan, I also use more green chillies than I wrote up for this recipe. If you prefer more heat, increase the number of fresh chillies and add extra red chilli powder. And finally this recipe is not for those looking for a restaurant-style biryani, instead it is for those who want to enjoy fragrant, delicious biryani without all the excessive oil and fat that goes into making this dish. Hope your families enjoy my version of biryani as much as my family does!

Chicken Biryani RECIPE


  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 2 chicken breasts, cubed into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 big white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 green chilli, minced (optional)
  • 2 tsp ginger paste
  • 2 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/4 cup chopped coriander leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 2 Tbsp ghee
  • 3 Tbsp Balkan-style yogurt, whey drained
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 3 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 6 cloves
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • salt to taste
  • quarter cup cashews, toasted
  • quarter cup raisins

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  1. Wash the basmati rice in cold water and then drain. Set aside in the rice cooker container.
  2. Heat the oil and ghee in a large skillet on medium heat. Temper the cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and bay leaves.
  3. Add the ginger and garlic paste. Cook until fragrant, about a minute.
  4. Add the onions and sauté until translucent.
  5. Add the tomatoes, and cook until tomatoes are soft. Use a wooden spoon to break up the tomatoes. Cook until most of the liquid evaporates.
  6. Add the coriander leaves, mint leaves, and green chilli if using. Sauté for two minutes before adding the yogurt.
  7.  Add the chicken pieces, garam masala, red chilli powder, coriander powder, and turmeric powder.
  8. Cook until chicken is cooked thoroughly, and a rich and very thick gravy forms.
  9. Mix the contents of the skillet with the rice. Add the cold water, coconut milk, and salt to taste.
  10. Cover and let cook until done.
  11. Once the rice is done, open the lid and let the steam out. Wait twenty minutes before fluffing with a fork.
  12. Before serving, garnish with coriander leaves, toasted cashews and raisins.


  • I typically use a 2:3 ratio of rice to water for the brand of basmati rice I use, although some brands may require slightly more or less water for that amount of rice. For the two cups of basmati rice used in this biryani recipe, there are 2 cups of liquid (water plus coconut milk) used. If you typically use more water, keep in mind that the rice will also cook in the liquid of the gravy, before adding more.
  • Serve with an hard-boiled egg, ratia (yogurt dip with cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions), and curries of your choosing.

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If you try this recipe, please let me know, I would love some feedback. If you liked this recipe, please share!

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  3. I have tried this recipe and it was very delicious!!

    1. Geerthana Uthayakumar

      Thank you! Glad you liked it 🙂

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