Award-winning chef Aktar Islam shares this fantastic family recipe for chicken Biryani, which originates from the courts of the Nizams of Hyderabad.

He says: “The dish consists of slow simmered legs of free range chicken, spiced with whole garam masala, flavoured with mint and coriander cooked with basmati rice in a sealed pot.”


Whole spices

6 green cardamom

3 cloves

5 cassia leaves

1 large stick of cassia bark

10 black peppercorn

Ground spices

3 tsp ground chilli

3 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground nutmeg

2 tsp salt

8 chicken legs, trimmed and thighs separated

3 tbsp Corn oil

4 medium onions finely sliced

5 cloves of garlic finely chopped

1” ginger crushed

4 tbsp yoghurt whisked

2 tomatoes

Juice of 1 lime

Generous pinch of garam masala

Generous handful of mint, finely chopped

Generous handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped

Handful of dried fried onions (optional)

750g basmati rice

150g flour made in to a stiff dough


1 Pre-heat your oven to 120°C.

2 Wash the basmati rice, until the water is clear and soak in cold water for 15/20 minutes ready to be added to the chicken.

3 Take a large heavy-based pot and heat the oil, add all the whole spices and infuse for five minutes over a medium heat.  Add the onion, salt and soften the over a low heat and allow to caramelise for 15 minutes. 

4 Add the chicken and mix thoroughly with the caramelised onion, keep stirring occasionally and brown the chicken legs.  Once the chicken is evenly coloured add the ground spices along with 2 tbsp of water and cook the spices out for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and keep stirring,  release the oil  and pour in enough boiling water to cover the chicken.  Cover and simmer slowly for 10 minutes.

5 Slowly pour in the yoghurt, add the tomatoes and garam masala, cover once again and simmer for another 20 minutes add the mint and coriander, stir in well.

6 Drain the rice and mix in with the chicken.  Pour in enough boiling water to just cover the rice, add the lime juice and sprinkle over with the dried caramelised onion. 

7 Cover and seal the pot with dough and place in to the oven for 30 minutes.  Crack the lid open and check the rice is soft, if so, fork through and serve. Dish up with a simple raitha or salad.

Aktar Islam owns Lasan and Lasan Eatery, both based in Birmingham. 0121 212 3664/