East African Chicken Biryani


Biryani is a staple dish in most Indian restaurants you go to. However, depending on which region you are from, each biryani dish can taste different and utilize different ingredients.

Today we are sharing a Chicken Biryani recipe that comes for the region of East Africa, where many Muslims and Hindus grew up. It is a simple and delicious recipe that utilizes charcoal to giving it an amazing smoked flavour.


Ingredients for Biryani:
2 medium russet potatoes
1 large container of plain yogurt (750grams)
4 boneless chicken breasts, each one cut into three pieces
3 cinnamon sticks
6-8 closed cardamom pods
1.5 full tbsps of minced ginger
1/2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp butter or ghee
1 tsp of salt
1-2 tsp of yellow food coloring
5 fistfulls of fried onions
1 small piece of charcoal (optional)
¼ tsp butter or ghee (optional)

Ingredients for Rice:
2 cups of basmati rice
2.5 cups of water
1.5 tsp salt
2 tsp of ghee or butter
yellow food coloring (optional)

The instructions are very simple and straightforward for this chicken biryani and except for cooking the rice on the side, it’s actually a one-pot meal.

Adding the charcoal or the dhoongar, is an extra step, that is totally optional, but adds immense flavour.

Instructions for Biryani:

1. Wash and soak your rice in warm water for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. Wash and clean the potatoes, then cut each one into quarters. To ensure they are cooked fully and don’t break, coat the potatoes in oil and sprinkle salt. Then cook them in the toaster (or regular) oven for about half an hour. Make sure they are cooked through.

3. While the potatoes are cooking, heat a large pot on medium (make sure the pot has a lid that closes).

4. Add the yogurt, cut chicken breasts, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, garlic, ghee, salt and food colouring . Mix it all together until everything is well combined. Once it’s mixed, let it cook for 30-40 minutes on medium heat.

5. When the chicken is cooked, add the fried onions and cooked potatoes into the pot. Continue to cook on medium/low heat for 15 min until everything is well combined and cooked through.


That is the simple recipe for the biryani. Next you have to make the rice and the instructions are below if you need them.

If you have some time and are so inclined, you should add the dhoongar. Loosely translated, it would mean smoking charcoal with ghee. It’s a little complicated, but if you’re up to the challenge, here are the instructions.

Adding the Dhoongar to your Biryani:

1. Take a small piece of foil and make it into a bowl. Make a small hole in the center of your biryani and place the foil in the hole.



2. Hold your charcoal with a pair of tongs. Put the element on high heat. Holding the charcoal in the tongs, place it on the hot element until the charcoal is hot and lit.

3. At the same time, take 1/4 tsp of ghee or butter, on a long metal spoon. Heat it on the element at the same time as the charcoal.

4. Once the charcoal is ready, put it in the small foil bowl. Drip all the melted ghee on the charcoal and quickly close the lid of the pot. Let it sit for 8-10 minutes. Then take out the charcoal and foil.

Instructions for Rice: (You can make this while the biryani is cooking)

1. Put your ghee in a pot and turn the element on to medium. When the ghee is melted, add your washed and soaked rice in and stir it around for a few minutes.

2. Add 2.5 cups of water in the pot and mix it with the rice. Turn the temperature to high and bring it to a boil.

3. Then turn the temperature down to medium-low and simmer until the rice is completely cooked, usually about 20 minutes.

4. When the rice is cooked, add a few randomly placed drops of yellow food coloring on top and lightly mix it. (This is an optional step and is just for aesthetics) You can also sprinkle some fried onions over the rice.



This should make enough for 4-6 people, depending on their appetites. When serving, put rice on the plate first and then add the biryani mixture on top. You can serve it with cucumbers on the side as well as carrot pickle.