Chicken Biriyani

Country of origin: South Africa

Our ‘Recipes for an African Christmas’ today lands us on this amazing Zanzibar dish, which is also common in the coastal region of Kenya. Here’s how to prepare it:


For the chicken:

  • 4 tbs cooking oil
  • 4 small potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs ginger, minced
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tbs plain yogurt
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh mint
  • ½ tbs cardamom
  • 1 cinnamon stick (5 cm)
  • 1.5 kg boneless chicken, chopped into cubes

For the rice:

  • 2 ½ tbs cooking oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 5 pods cardamom
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick (2 ½ cm)
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 2 cups rice (preferably basmati) (washed)
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 ½ tsp salt



  • In a large pan, pour 2 tbs of cooking oil and fry potatoes until golden brown and set them aside.
  • Add 2 tbs of oil to the pan and fry 2 onions, garlic and ginger until onions are soft and golden.
  • Add chilli, pepper, turmeric, cumin, salt and the tomatoes.
  • Fry while stirring constantly for 5 minutes.
  • Add yogurt, mint, cardamom, and cinnamon stick.
  • Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until the tomatoes are cooked to a pulp. It may be necessary to add a little hot water if the mixture becomes too dry and starts to stick to the pan.
  • When the mixture is smooth, add the chicken pieces and stir to coat them in the spice mixture. Cover and simmer on low heat until the chicken is tender (approximately 30 minutes).


  • In a large pan, pour 2 tbs of cooking oil and fry potatoes until golden brown and set them aside.
  • In a medium sized pot, heat cooking oil and fry onions until golden.
  • Add cardamom, cloves, cinnamon stick, ginger, salt, and rice.
  • Stir until rice is coated in spices. Heat the chicken stock separately and pour over rice while gently stirring the resulting mixture.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, cover the pot and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes without stirring or lifting lid.
  • Place the rice in a large dish and pour the chicken on top. Serve with kachumbari and enjoy.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *