Malabar Biryani Kerala Recipe

Malabar Biryani

The Biryani is a well-loved dish all across India with interesting variations from different parts, the fragrant Lucknowi biryani, the spicier Hyderabadi biryani, the milder Bengali biryani with potatoes added that become incredibly flavourful, the Bombay biryani and plenty more.

Our favourite however, is the Malabar Biryani with its ghee and clove infused rice and delicious, tender chicken cooked in a beautiful mix of spices. The Malabar Biryani Masala spices, that you can get at our shop here, are beautiful whole spices like pepper, star anise, cinnamon and more that are roasted and ground to be used in the recipe we’re sharing here. This recipe makes a soul-filling biryani dish that is wonderfully balanced in its spiciness, with little morsels of savoury sweetness from generous amounts of golden onions and cashews.

We love this recipe and spice mix and love even more that we’ve introduced so many of you to it. We’ve just brought back a fresh stock of spices from Kerala and we’re going to be setting up at the Lil Flea market this weekend (5th & 6th April) where you can get yourself a jar that promises many fantastic meals. See you there!

Malabar Biryani


For the Biryani Masala:
Dry roast and grind all the masalas in the Biryani Masala jar.
For the Chicken:
1kg to 1.5 kg Chicken, cut into pieces, cleaned
6 Green Chilies
2-3 inch piece Ginger
10-12 cloves Garlic
3/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
1/2 tsp Red Chili Powder
2 tbs Biryani Masala
250 gm Ghee
4-5 large Onions, thinly sliced
3 Tomatoes, finely chopped
Handful of Cashew Nuts and Raisins
A small handful each, Curry leaves, Mint leaves, Coriander leaves
Salt and Lemon juice to taste

For the Rice:
500 g Basmati rice (or fragrant small-grained rice like Kaima or Jeerakashala)
1 bay leaf, 1 small stick Cinnamon, 3-4 Cloves, 3-4 Cardamom
750 ml Water
Salt to taste and a squeeze of Lemon Juice


Make a paste of the ginger, garlic and green chilies. Add 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/4 red chili powder, salt to taste, 1 tablespoon of the ground biryani masala and some lemon juice. Marinate the chicken in this mix for about 2-3 hours.

For a vegetarian version, replace the chicken with Paneer or a combination of vegetables like potatoes, carrots, beans and more. You won’t need to marinate vegetables for long.

Heat most of the ghee in a heavy bottomed Kadhai and cook a quarter of the thinly sliced onions till dark brown, remove and set aside to use as a garnish. Fry the nuts and raisins in the same ghee. Reserve the flavored ghee for the Biryani.

Heat some more ghee and sauté the remaining onions till translucent, add the chopped tomato and the rest of the turmeric, chili powder and salt to taste. Add the chicken and marinade along with 1 tbs of the Biryani Masala, the curry leaves, mint and coriander. Add a little water if it is too dry. Cook till the gravy reduces, then cover and cook till chicken or vegetables are done and you have a thick gravy.

If using Basmati, wash and soak the rice while you heat some of the reserved ghee and add the whole spices and stir. Add rice and stir for a few minutes. Add water and bring to a boil. Cover and then let the rice cook on a low flame, till the water is absorbed.

In a large kadhai or pot, spread half of the chicken or vegetable masala and top with half the rice and repeat.  Squeeze a little lemon juice over the top, the rest of the ghee used to cook the onions, the fried onions and nuts.  Cover with a hot tawa and cook over a low flame till you the get the aroma of chicken.

Serve with chammanthi, papadum and end with a freshly brewed cup of coffee.

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