Traditional biryani is a thing of beauty: steaming fragrant rice, layered with rich, deeply spiced meat and sometimes fried onions, nuts, and dried fruits. Just like many traditional dishes, this one varies from state to state, region to region, and even household to household, both within India and among its diaspora.
This version is inspired by a Hyderabadi-style biryani, Hariyali Murgh Biryani. The chicken (murgh) is marinated in a vibrantly green blend—hariyali meaning “greenery” in Hindi—of Indian chiles, cilantro, mint, coconut, yogurt, and spices. Classically, biryani is made of multiple layers of spiced meat and basmati rice, but here, for a pressure cooker, the method that yields the best results is one layer of chicken with one layer of rice and fried onions.
Biryani is truly all about the rice: long grains, tender with just the right amount of toothsome chew and so fragrant you want to stick your head in the pot and breathe in that good good rice aroma. So now is the time to seek out good quality aged basmati rice (I bought mine online). —Asha Loupy
Test Kitchen Notes
This recipe is shared in partnership with SharkNinja™, and was developed using the Ninja Foodi™ 8-qt. 9-in-1 Deluxe XL Pressure Cooker & Air Fryer. —The Editors
- Prep time 1 hour 30 minutes
- Cook time 35 minutes
- Serves 4
bone-in chicken legs, thighs and drumsticks separated, skin removed
large garlic cloves, finely grated
(1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 1/2 teaspoons
fresh lemon juice
full-fat coconut milk
hot Indian green chiles, or 1 serrano pepper, roughly chopped
fresh cilantro, very roughly chopped (about 2 packed cups)
fresh mint leaves (about 2 packed cups)
whole milk plain yogurt
basmati rice, rinsed well
neutral oil, like grapeseed or canola
large white or yellow onion, very thinly sliced
green cardamom pods
stick cinnamon, broken in 2 pieces
warm milk (optional)
- To prepare the chicken, make a couple 1/4-inch deep slashes in the thighs and drumsticks (this will help the marinade penetrate the meat). Place the chicken in a medium bowl, add the salt, turmeric, garam masala, garlic, ginger, and lemon juice, and mix well, massaging the seasonings into the chicken. Set aside.
- Combine the coconut milk, green chiles, cilantro, and mint in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the coconut-green herb mixture over the chicken, add the yogurt and mix well, making sure all the chicken is coated in the marinade. Refrigerate for 1 hour to overnight.
- A half hour before you start cooking, place the rinsed basmati rice in a large bowl, cover with water and let soak for 30 minutes.
- While the rice is soaking, prepare the onions. Select SEAR/SAUTÉ and set to MD:HI. Select START/STOP to begin. Allow to preheat for 5 minutes.
- Add the oil and continue to heat for another minute. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they turn deep golden brown. Move the onions to one side, add the cumin seeds, cardamom, cloves, bay leaf, and cinnamon stick to the empty space, stirring it to coat in any residual oil. Toast spices for one minute, and then transfer the cooked onions and spices to a small bowl. Set aside.
- Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and place it in a single layer in the bottom of the pot, pouring half the marinade over the chicken. Reserve the remaining half of the marinade.
- Assemble the pressure lid, making sure the pressure release valve is in the SEAL position. Select PRESSURE and set to HIGH. Set the time for 10 minutes and press START/STOP to begin.
- When the pressure cooking is complete, quick release the pressure by moving the pressure release valve to the VENT position. Carefully remove the lid when the unit has finished releasing the steam.
- If using, combine the warm milk and saffron and let steep while the chicken is cooking.
- Some liquid will be released from both the chicken and the marinade when it is cooking. To cook the rice, you want about a 1:1.25 ratio of rice to liquid, so in total 2 1/4 cups of cooking liquid. Depending on your chicken and how much marinade was on it, you will have to add 1/2–3/4 cup of water to the pot before adding the rice.
- Drain the soaked rice and sprinkle two-thirds of it over the chicken. Spoon the remaining chicken marinade over the rice and top with the reserved onion and spice mixture. Add the remaining third of basmati rice, sprinkling in an even layer over the marinade and onions. If using, drizzle the saffron-infused milk over the top layer of rice.
- Assemble the pressure lid, making sure the pressure release valve is in the SEAL position. Select PRESSURE and set to HIGH. Set the time for 3 minutes and press START/STOP to begin.
- When the pressure cooking is complete, let the unit naturally release the pressure, leaving it sealed and on KEEP WARM for 10 minutes. Move the pressure release valve to the VENT position, releasing any excess pressure. Carefully remove the lid when the unit has finished releasing the pressure.
- To serve, gently lift the rice and chicken with a spatula and transfer to a serving platter or individual plates. Garnish with extra fresh cilantro and mint leaves, if desired.