Make Chicken Dum Biryani with HOMEMADE Biryani Spice Mix

Biryani is one of those sub-continental dishes whose complex flavors and aroma almost convince you that you may just never learn how to make it from scratch. I’d like to get it out of the way that Biryani, in general, has a relatively steep learning curve because the rice demands some TLC. You can’t just rake your fork through the rice like that. It has to be handled ever so gently and should retain a bite before you begin layering it with the Biryani chicken masala.

This Homemade Biryani recipe inspired by the Biryani popular in Karachi (hint: potatoes!) is for you, who knows HOW to layer and properly give the Biryani “dum,” (a process that relies on slow and even cooking by trapping steam into the pot), but rely on prepackaged spices to get by. My homemade Biryani spice blend that has hints of Star Anise (Badiyan ka phool), prunes, cardamom, nutmeg and fennel, is as authentic as it gets!

This Homemade Biryani recipe is also for you, who has never attempted to make Biryani at home simply because you were intimated by the involved and somewhat overwhelming cooking process. This recipe has gone through intense testing and I’m so excited for you to try this. Be patient, and I highly encourage you to watch my video even if you aren’t into visuals. The video shows the step-by-step process and goes over some tips I learned during testing.

Make Karachi Biryani with HOMEMADE Biryani Spice Mix
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Biryani is one of those sub-continental dishes whose complex flavors and aroma almost convince you that you may just never learn how to make it from scratch. Watch my step-by-step instructions to crack this dish loved all over the world!
Recipe type: Chicken Biryani
Cuisine: Pakistani/Indian
Serves: 5-6
  • Homemade Biryani Spice Blend:
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 10-12 whole cloves
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 5 green cardamom
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp whole black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick (3")
  • ½ of a whole nutmeg
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1½ tsp red chili powder (use 1¼ tsp if you don't like it too spicy)
  • 1 black cardamom
  • ¾ tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 prunes
  • ½ tsp whole black pepper (optional)
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • Rice Layer:
  • 15-16 cups water
  • 3 cups Basmati rice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp Homemade Biryani Spice Blend
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • Chicken Curry Layer:
  • ½ cup oil
  • 2 medium onions, thinly slices
  • All of the Homemade Biryani Spice Blend
  • ¾ lb whole chicken pieces (750 gms)
  • 1 tbsp ginger/garlic paste
  • ⅛ cup each mint/cilantro
  • ½ cup yogurt
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 small potatoes, halved
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 green chilies
  • 2 tsp rose water or kewra
  1. First, make the homemade Biryani Spice Blend. Grind all the ingredients till nutmeg to an almost fine powder.
  2. Tip the ground masala in a bowl, then add the remaining spices: turmeric, red chili powder, black cardamom, cumin seeds, prunes and black pepper. Mix all the spices really well. You can add it to a tupperware and shake shake shake.
  3. Set the homemade Biryani spice blend aside while we boil the rice.*
  4. Add 15-16 cups of water to a large pot and add a bay leaf and ½ tsp of the spice blend we made earlier.
  5. Pre-soak long grain Basmati rice for 15 mins only. I usually do this while water is coming to a boil.
  6. Once water is boiling, strain the rice and add it to the pot and let it cook for 10-15 minutes. It's important to not cook your rice completely. It should be 80-85% done and should have just a little bite. I get the desired "bite" at the 13-minute mark. Once you reach that stage, strain the rice and spread it in an even layer on a baking tray. DO NOT PILE HIGH. Piling the rice will trap moisture which will result in soggy and mushy Biryani.
  7. Allow rice to cool while you make curry.
  8. To make curry base, add oil in a large saucepan.
  9. Add sliced onion once the oil glistens and brown it.
  10. Once onion is golden brown, about 20 mins, add the Homemade Biryani Spice Blend and give it a mix for 30 seconds on low heat.
  11. Next add chicken pieces and coat well in the spices.
  12. Add ginger garlic paste, mint and cilantro and mix.
  13. Next add yogurt and mix followed by tomatoes and potatoes.*
  14. Add one cup of water and increase the heat to medium. Once it comes to a boil, cover the pot with lid, lower the flame to low to medium and allow to cook for 30 mins.
  15. After 30 mins, add in two green chilis (I slit one in half and left the other one whole). Check to make sure the potatoes don't overcook. Remove them to a bowl once they are for fork tender.
  16. Pop the lid back on the pan and let the curry simmer on low heat for another 10 mins.
  17. After the 10 mins, the oil should have separated and the curry should be nice and thick. Give the curry a good stir for a couple minutes.
  18. At this point taste for salt again. The spice blend has plenty salt but you will need to add more because it will make sure the final Biryani is ready and well salted *If you are reusing the same pot for layering, remove the curry to a bowl.
  19. To layer the Biryani, preheat your oven to 300F.
  20. In a large pan, add some of the curry sauce to the bottom.
  21. Next use a large spatula and spread a thin layer of rice on top. Divide the remaining rice in three sections for the layers.*
  22. Next, scatter your chicken Biryani curry over the rice making sure to add a couple chicken pieces and potatoes followed by the second rice layer.
  23. Drizzle orange food coloring, some mint and cilantro.
  24. Next add the second layer of chicken curry followed by the third layer of rice. Repeat with a drizzle of orange food coloring and some mint cilantro, add the third layer of chicken curry followed by the final layer of rice. Repeat with food color and mint/cilantro.
  25. Drizzle rose water for fragrance and add lemon slices on the rice. You can also add crushed fried onion if you have it.
  26. To give "dum" in oven, take two large pieces of foil and cover the pan by overlap them. Make sure to crimp the pieces of foil around the edges of the pan. Take your time with crimping. The pan should be COMPLETELY sealed!
  27. Place the pan in the center of your oven and allow it to stay in "dum" for 1 hour. The oven will evenly distribute heat throughout the Biryani.
  28. After 1 hour, lower the temperature to 275F for another 10-15 mins.
  29. Once the Biryani is done, carefully remove the foil. Using a large spatula, lift the rice from the bottom and shake it. Shaking will mix the curry with the rice without breaking the grains. DO NOT use a fork.
  30. Once the biryani is gently mixed/shaken through, cover it with the foil again and let it sit on your countertop for at least an hour before serving. The flavors need a chance to settle so make sure you give it the rest time it needs.
  31. *I boiled rice before making curry because I had only one large pan. You can do that simultaneously if you have more pans.
  32. *I used the regular brown-skinned potatoes, but the type does not matter. However, cooking time may vary so make sure you check on the potatoes and remove them earlier once they are fork-tender to avoid overcooking them.
  33. *The curry consistency should be nice and thick. If you think it is too thin (althought it shouldn't be), continue stirring on medium high heat.
  34. *Make sure you divide the rice in a way where the top layer covers the curry. Check out my video to see how I layer.
  35. Serve hot with raita!


  1. Hi: I have tried a lot of your recipes and all of them have turned out wonderfully!!! I know that you use bone-in chicken but I am wondering if I can use boneless skinless chicken thighs, and also if I added a little extra chicken to this recipe would the extra juices from the chicken result in a mushy rice.

    Thank you in advance for you help.


    1. Hi Lynn! Thank you so much for the sweet words. You can definitely use thighs if you prefer. Because we cook the curry separately, you can add up to a pound more of chicken thighs. Just make sure that the curry/gravy is nice and thick when ready for layering. Also, I can’t stress enough that you need the rice to cool completely so definitely don’t pile the rice too high. One big cookie sheet is perfect and lays the rice nice and flat.

      Good luck and I hope to hear your feedback when you try it 🙂

  2. Your biryani looks amazing! Can’t wait to try it..though in the spice blend ingredients you first say 3black cardamoms and then 1 black cardamom. Is that a typo?
    And we grind the bay leaf as well?
    Instead of 1 cinnamon stick we can add a teaspoon (more or less?) of ground cinnamon?

    1. Hi Amina. Up until nutmeg you will grind all the spices. The remaining spices (including the one cardamom) will be simply added to the freshly ground ones. I’ll update the list to clarify this.

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