South Indian Chicken Biryani Recipe (Chennai Biryani)

Who doesn’t love a good biryani, right? Especially when it’s a fit for occasions dish like this South Indian Chicken Biryani recipe. Chicken Hyderabadi Biryani is popular, but this recipe below for Chennai Biryani is better than that. Oh, trust me, this South Indian biryani will have you reserving this dish for when you’re having guests over.

I have to admit, we use this chicken biryani South Indian recipe on most weekends, and the lamb version, Muslim Mutton Biryani, is usually prepared for Eid. This is mainly since I don’t like lamb too much when compared to chicken and beef but nevertheless, both these recipes are delicious!

Biryani is almost a culture in India. Each household has its recipe and most of these are passed onto them in families from generations. Each state has its own additions and unique ways of preparation.

In South India and more popularly in Hyderabad and Chennai, the bucket biryani concept is a hit. Best for gatherings and parties, a bucket of chicken or lamb biryani is sold along with fried chicken, baigan chutney, and raita – the best accompaniments with an Indian biryani!


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How to make Chennai Biryani? 

My mom says that the most essential part of a South Indian biryani recipe is the rice. The rice has to be prepared separately but only has to be half cooked. This is to ensure that when the rice is cooking for the second time with the masala, it will not overcook. The end result should be perfectly cooked rice grains that don’t break on their own

The same goes for South Indian mutton biryani recipe too.

To start making the Tamil Nadu biryani, make the masala first. In a pot large enough to hold rice and masala, add spices and chopped onions in ghee and oil. Once the onions turn transparent, add the other spices with chicken.

Let it cook for about 5-10 minutes until the chicken pieces turn white, now add the tomatoes. It will help if you close this pot with a lid for about 10 minutes on a low flame so the tomatoes can turn mushy. You want all this to form a paste-like mixture.

When you notice that, add in the yogurt and leaves. The yogurt here helps bind the entire gravy. Make sure you beat the yogurt before adding so it blends in well or you might end up with clumps of masala with rice as the spices tend to stick with the yogurt clumps if not mixed well.

Let cook for about 15 minutes more and then add your rice (recipe below)

Now, while I’m making the masala, I like to keep a pot on the side for rice too because it just saves time. Keep a pot of water on a medium flame and add oil with spices to it. Once the water starts boiling, add in the soaked and drained rice.

Let this rice cook for only about 5-10 minutes to ensure they are only cooked halfway. To test this, take a grain and try to break it with your index finger. If it splits into several parts, it is done.

Drain and add to the masala above and mix until just incorporated with the biryani gravy. Close the lid for about 25 minutes and make sure there is no air that can slip through.

You can do this by either covering the rim of the vessel with foil or cloth before shutting it with a lid. If you have a flat lid without a handle, you can keep a heavy pan on top to make sure absolutely no air gets in. This will make the perfect South Indian dum biryani.


South Indian Chicken Biryani Recipe Step by Step


South Indian Chicken Biryani

Sarah & Safiyah
The easiest chicken biryani South Indian style!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4 people


For the masala

  • 1 kg chicken
  • 150 ml cooking oil
  • 4 tbsp ghee
  • 2 pcs cinnamon sticks
  • 4 star anise seeds
  • 5-6 cloves
  • 1 tsp shahjeera
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 4 onions finely sliced
  • 4 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 4 green chilies slit into halves
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 200 g mint leaves
  • 100 g coriander leaves
  • Salt to taste

For the rice:

  • 800 g basamati rice
  • 2-3 tbsp oil
  • 1 clove
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 liters Water


For the masala:

  • In a big vessel, add oil, cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon sticks, star anise, shahjeera, and sliced onion to the oil and ghee
  • Let the onion fry till they turn transparent, then add chilies, ginger garlic paste and salt
  • Then add chicken and let it cook for about 5 minutes
  • Then add chilli powder, turmeric powder, and tomatoes to the mixture and let it fry till the tomatoes soften
  • Add yoghurt, mint, and coriander leaves to the masala next
  • Then add the half cooked rice (recipe below)
  • Cover the vessel with a lid covered in aluminum foil and let it simmer for about 20-25 minutes
  • Open the lid and mix the masala and rice
  • Serve hot along with baigan ki chutney and raita

For the rice:

  • Soak the rice for about half an hour
  • Then in a pot full of water, add oil, clove, cinnamon stick, star anise and salt and let it boil.
  • Add the rice in the boiling water and let it cook for 5 -10 minutes
  • When the rice is cooked half way, drain the rice and add to the masala
Keyword Recipes for Occasions

Alternatives for chicken biryani South Indian style: The alternatives for this Indian chicken biryani is to change the protein you’re using. Switch it with lamb or beef (both have to be cooked separately before adding to the masala) You can read our Lamb Biryani recipe for the exact details.

For egg biryani, add in boiled eggs with the masala or you can also make South Indian vegetable biryani with carrots, peas, and beans instead.

The difference between chicken Hyderabadi dum biryani and Chennai Biryani is that the former uses something known as a kacchi biryani recipe. This is basically adding raw marinated chicken with cooked rice and steaming it. This is basically a Hyderabadi biryani recipe.

How to serve South Indian biryani? 

Whatever biryani recipe you use, don’t forget to serve it with raita and baigan chutney. The chutney is a must especially in South India where it is served everywhere along with biryani. Find our Baigan ka Salan recipe here.

Are you a beginner? Master Indian Cooking with us through a series of simple recipes explained step by step 🙂

Hope you enjoyed our recipe! If you did, don’t forget to reach out and let us know. We’d love to hear from you x

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