~ 5 ingredients/recipes/restaurant recipes

Dishoom’s Chicken Biryani Recipe, Simplified

Posted December 6, 2018 by Mike
Dishoom’s Chicken Biryani Recipe, Simplified | www.iamafoodblog.com

Among our small group of friends, Steph and I are known as that couple that foolishly spends every penny on travels just to eat, so we always get asked for restaurant recommendations on any random city someone is visiting, even if there’s no way we’ve ever been there or plan on ever going there. For London, we’re actually able to answer, and we always have a laundry list of restaurants we give. Usually we’ll get a response back that goes along the lines of “are you crazy? I’m only there for 2 days” and then we’ll reluctantly pull out our A-list of top 3 restaurants you have to visit when you come to London: Harwood Arms, The Bar at Clove Club, and Dishoom.

Dishoom’s Chicken Biryani Recipe, Simplified | www.iamafoodblog.com

Dishoom’s Chicken Biryani Recipe, Simplified | www.iamafoodblog.com

Dishoom’s Chicken Biryani Recipe, Simplified | www.iamafoodblog.com

If you know Indian food, or you know London, you’re probably thinking “Two of these restaurants are fantastic and well regarded, but one is rubbish, why is it on this list?” It’s true, Dishoom is not the greatest Indian restaurant in London. It’s got fake lineups, its food is watered down, and there are probably hundreds of hole-in-the-walls that are better than Dishoom for less money. But Dishoom is an experience – look at that menu, there’s Chicken Tikka Rolls and Gunpowder Potatoes. They’ve got drinks, interesting food, and a great story. If there is one thing (food-wise) London does incredibly well, it’s their well-run fantastically designed tiny chains like Hawksmoor for steaks or Ottolenghi for Middle Eastern. These tiny chains carve out a niche and fill it incredibly well in a way that everyone feels welcome. Dishoom is Ottolenghi for Indian food, and it’s wonderful.

One of my favorite things on Dishoom’s menu is their Biryani. Like all great dishes of great cuisines, Biryani has multitudes of regional variations and recipes, and there is really no correct method. This version is like if chicken and rice decided to get together and try to make a lasagna. It’s got layers of rice and soft perfectly cooked chicken. It’s got bits of crispy rice/soccarat where the rice was slightly scorched from touching the cast iron dutch oven. It’s spicy if you like spiciness, and it’s just generally the greatest thing. If you’re excited, click here to skip to the recipe, otherwise, read on for some food geekiness.

Dishoom’s Chicken Biryani Recipe, Simplified | www.iamafoodblog.com

Dishoom’s Chicken Biryani Recipe, Simplified | www.iamafoodblog.com

Dishoom’s Chicken Biryani Recipe, Simplified | www.iamafoodblog.com

Dishoom’s Chicken Biryani Recipe, Simplified | www.iamafoodblog.com

Dishoom’s Chicken Biryani Recipe, Simplified | www.iamafoodblog.com

Dishoom is releasing a cookbook next year, and you can be sure Steph and I will be cooking from it, but meanwhile, I found this recipe online and heavily edited it. I’ve made it twice now, once for an Indian food party and again just because it was so good (and I’m going to make it a third time after this post goes up, because writing it made me want more). Unlike the original version, this one only has 10 ingredients and is really simple to make. I’ve made the original as well, I’m pretty sure that besides being easier and much much faster, most people will agree this version tastes better. Some notes:

  • Sometimes the commercial product is better than homemade, and fried onions and shallots are one of those things. Very few home cooks can match the quality of commercially fried onions. They’re available everywhere (we actually got ours from Ikea of all places), but if you can’t find them, replace with onions or shallots fried until crispy and golden brown.
  • The yogurt we used was Greek yogurt. Indians would use dahi, which is basically a yogurt by another name, and Greek yogurt gives the best consistency for this marinade.
  • Properly, cumin should be toasted in a dry pan and crushed with a mortar and pestle. If you have time for that, you should do so, but I made this once that way and once with ground cumin, and there was not that much difference.
  • Flat Leaf Parsley vs Cilantro: I made this with both because some people hate cilantro and I wanted to know if it made much of a difference if you sub. The answer is, no, both versions were delicious and you should use the one you like.
  • I did it once with boneless, skinless chicken thighs and once with bone-in, skin-on. The bone-in skin-on version was way better (surprise) but the boneless skinless version was much easier to eat. If you go bone-in skin-on, you should cut the thighs into thirds, or something resembling bite sized pieces.
  • The saffron is only for color and isn’t necessary. We always have saffron in our house, but saffron is expensive and it’s not totally necessary. If you skip it, but have turmeric sitting around, I’d add a 1/4 teaspoon turmeric to the cream.
  • The 1/4 cup of diced onions are definitely an optional ingredient. The second time around, I had the onions sitting around from something I made earlier that day and added it so it wouldn’t take up room in our tiny fridge. It was amazing and added a lot, so it’s here, but I don’t think anyone should go out and buy an onion. It’s not in Dishoom’s version. It’s just really good.
  • Finally, the red pepper and jalepeno. The first time, I skipped both and it tasted ok. The second time, I used two teapsoons of something called Red Chili Powder Extra Hot from an Indian spice company and a fresh jalepeno and it was amazing. To be completely honest, it was also really spicy for both of us (and we eat spicy foods) until the next day when it somehow mellowed out, but both are optional ingredients for a reason.

This recipe calls for a blender, but if you don’t have a blender or a food processor, just roughly chop the parsley or cilantro and slice the rest. I cooked this in a dutch oven and truly, it’s the best cooking vessel to use. You get this amazing soccarat on the sides, and the heavy lid keeps the steam inside. I probably should have also tested a conventional stainless steel pan, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. If you follow the recipe without scaling, you’ll need something that can hold at least 2.5 quarts.

Dishoom’s Chicken Biryani Recipe, Simplified | www.iamafoodblog.com

Dishoom’s Chicken Biryani Recipe, Simplified | www.iamafoodblog.com

Being December, I can honestly say this is one of the best things I’ve made this year, and I really hope you try this and bring a little taste of London and inauthentic Indian food home for the holidays (and the rest of the year too).


Dishoom’s Chicken Biryani Recipe, Simplified

Serves 4

  • 1 tablespoon fried onions
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1/2 head of garlic, peeled (about 6 cloves)
  • 1” ginger, peeled & sliced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup cilantro or flat leaf parsley
  • 1.5-2 lbs chicken thighs
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1-2 teaspoons red chili powder (optional)
  • 1 jalapeno (optional)
  • 1 pinch of saffron (optional)
  • 1/4 cup diced onions (optional)

1. Preheat your oven to 450ºF

2. Optional Step: If you’re using saffron (or turmeric), combine with the cream and set aside.

3. In a blender, make a marinade by adding the fried onions, yogurt, garlic, ginger, cumin, cilantro/parsley, and 2 teaspoons of salt. If you’re using a jalapeno or the red chili powder, add it now too. Puree until smooth, then combine with the chicken in a bowl, mix well and set aside.

4. In a 2 quart or larger dutch oven (or similar oven-proof pot with a tight fitting lid), bring 4 cups of water and a good pinch of salt to a boil. When the water is at a boil, add the basmati rice and cook for 5 minutes, than drain into a fine mesh sieve. If you don’t have a sieve, try to carefully drain as well as you can and transfer to a bowl.

5. In your now empty dutch oven, put down 1 layer of chicken, then cover with half the rice, then half the cream, half the onions if using, then repeat with the remaining chicken, rice, cream, and onions again.

6. Cover and bake for 1 hour, then remove from the oven and allow to sit for 15 minutes before opening. Mix well and serve with extra fried onions, yogurt, and chopped flat leaf parsley or cilantro.


  1. Gal says:

    Sounds so yummy. Would it work well with chicken breasts? Thanks

  2. Stephanie says:

    make it again!!!!!
    xoxo steph

  3. mfw says:

    Looks delicious. Do you use whole bone in, skin on chicken thighs? Thanks in advance!

    1. Mike says:

      I used both whole bone-in skin on chicken thighs as well as boneless. the bone-in were way better.

  4. Avani says:

    looks yum! mentally trying to think if I can put this in my instant pot

    1. Mike says:

      you totally can, and you can probably skip parboiling the rice too

  5. Bob says:

    Do you cook the rice with lid on or off?

    1. Mike says:

      The first 5 minute parboil, lid off. Before it goes in the oven, lid on.

  6. Allison says:

    How would you reheat this for the next day?

  7. Dilip says:


    What type of biryani is this…i think this will come out as dry fried rice…i never heard biryani baked …

  8. Preeti Mahishkar says:

    Can this recipe be prepared in Crock-Pot.

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