Instant Pot Chicken Biryani

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Instant Pot Chicken Biryani

In our family we all love eating Indian food. As we have recently acquired an Instant Pot we decided we had to try and use it to make a chicken biryani. This post will describe the process and the method we used to make an Instant Pot Chicken Biryani.

pot chicken biryani
Chicken Marinade

What is Biryani?

Biryani is a mixed rice dish that originated in India but is eaten in several other countries in the far east. The meat may be chicken, goat, beef, lamb, fish or prawns so there are clearly many different variations to imagine.

marinated chicken
Marinate the chicken overnight if possible

This link will tell you more about the different types of biryani and their origins and varieties.

Instant Pot or Pressure cooker Biryani?

What is the best way to cook biryani? Well, really I do not think it matters that much. It is more down to what cooking methods do you have at your disposal. We are now lucky enough to have the instant pot that is quick and efficient.

biryani recipe
Rice in layers over the chicken in the Instant Pot

Traditionally people would use a pressure cooker to speed up the cooking on the hob, if you did not want to slow cook the meal.

As the Instant Pot pressure cooker has the ability to slow cook, saute, or pressure cook it seemed a shame not to try the pressure cook function and see how quickly we could actually cook this meal, considering much of the preparation can be done beforehand.

I could also have cooked it slower on the slow cook function, which I am sure would have given a similar result.

chicken biryani instant pot

I would say that this attempt was very successful and produced the meal in a very short time. Also, the kitchen smelled like a real curry house afterwards!

I am beginning to love my Instant Pot!

chicken biryani in instant pot
After adding water and before cooking

What are the main Biryani Ingredients?

Firstly, of course, there is the meat. Often chicken thighs are used in a chicken biryani recipe, but I have chosen to use chicken breast as it will cook a bit quicker when cut into chunks and is easy to marinade. You could, of course, also choose any other type of meat, as mentioned earlier.

biryani instant pot
After pressure cooking

This instant pot biryani recipe does call for a variety of spices, some of which you may or may not have in your pantry. 

As we often cook spicy food, most of the spices we already had, but I did buy a few new ones just to see how close I could get to an authentic biryani.

curry chicken instant pot
Instant Pot Chicken Biryani

So the basic ingredients we have in our pantry anyway were: natural full yoghurt, ginger paste, garlic paste, turmeric, chillis, lemon juice, onion, hot red chilli powder, basmati rice, ghee, coriander leaves, mint leaves, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom pods, bay leaves, cumin seeds, salt, milk and saffron.

instant pot biryani chicken

The only ingredients I had to buy especially were biryani masala powder, green cardamom powder and star anise. But I suppose I could probably have replaced these with garam masala, ground cardamoms and fennel seeds if necessary.

What to do with the whole spices after cooking?

If you were to make a biryani in the traditional way you would partially cook the rice before adding to the pot to finish off. You can then more easily remove the spices used to cook the rice like the cinnamon, cloves, cardamoms and star anise, when you sieve the rice.

However, in this method everything is thrown into the instant pot together, so you are left with these whole spices in the food. Really it is up to you whether you want to fish them out.

chicken biryani recipe instant pot

My wife hates biting into cloves and cardamoms, so I tend to pick them out before serving. But believe me, you will want them in there when cooking, for the aroma and taste that is imparted to the rice.

Let me know how you get on with this recipe in the comments section below, and any improvement suggestions are welcome.

How to Make Instant Pot Biryani Chicken

Chicken Biryani in Instant Pot

Chicken Biryani in Instant Pot

This spicy Indian dish is easy to prepare and very quick to make in the Instant Pot. Prepare everything up front and cook it in no time!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Marinate time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 40 minutes

Ingredients

For the Marinade

  • 1/2 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic paste
  • 2 green chillis, cut to release heat
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp hot red chilli powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp biryani masala powder
  • 2/3 cup natural yoghurt
  • 1/2 tsp green cardamom powder

For the Rice

  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 1 tbsp ghee (or alternatively vegetable oil)
  • a bunch of fresh coriander leaves
  • a bunch of mint leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 piece of cinnamon
  • 6-8 cloves
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 10 strands saffron
  • 1/8 cup milk

For the biryani

  • 500g chicken breast
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced

Instructions

Prepare Marinade

  1. First, make the marinade. Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Chop the chicken into 1-inch size pieces and add to the marinade, making sure all the chicken is properly covered. Refrigerate for at least two hours to allow the marinade to permeate the chicken (overnight is better!).

Prepare the rest

  1. Slice the onion thinly in some ghee and then fry it in a skillet until browned. Then remove the caramelized onions from the heat and let cool and dry on a piece of kitchen paper.
  2. Wash the rice well in a sieve under the cold water tap. Then soak the rice in cold water for half an hour. Remove from the water and drain well in a sieve.

Cook

  1. When ready to cook, start by heating the Instant Pot using the saute switch. Add some ghee to the pot and then place the chicken and marinade into the pot. Brown the chicken on all sides, stirring regularly for about 5 minutes. Then turn off the instant pot.
  2. While you are browning the meat, slowly heat the milk in a saucepan on a low heat and dissolve the saffron threads.
  3. Now add some chopped coriander and mint leaves to the chicken and mix well.
  4. Then add half of the rice to the top of the chicken. Place some more coriander and mint leaves to the top of the rice, then add the whole spice rice ingredients (salt, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom pods, bay leaves, star anise, cumin seeds) in a layer, together with half the dried onions.
  5. Then add the remaining layer of rice and cover with the remaining onions.
  6. Finally, pour the saffron milk onto the rice in a circle. Then add 2,5 cups of water, 2 along the sides of the pot and the final half cup on the top.
  7. Close the Instant Pot and cook at high pressure for about 5-6 minutes (this will actually take longer as it will take maybe 8 minutes to get up to pressure).
  8. When cooked, carefully release the pressure using the quick release pressure valve and remove the lid.
  9. Allow to rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

Notes

Serve garnished with some chopped coriander leaves, and with some raita.

You may wish to remove some of the spices before serving (cloves, cinnamon, cardamoms, star anise) as not everyone appreciates these in the food. Alternatively, put them together in a muslin bag, if you have one, while cooking to impart the taste and keep them out of the food.

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