Mom's Khao Mok Kai (some call it Biryani)

February 1, 2011

Author Notes: Some might recognize many of the ingredients in this dish as a biryani. I just know it as a dish my mom would bake a pan of on Sunday and we would be eating it for days. I made this stove-top, but I believe it can be baked as well.

The chicken and rice (in Thai, rice is khao and chicken is kai) are moist and the fragrance of the spices fills the house with a warm and inviting aroma.

The super simple method is to use yellow curry powder and skip all the spice blending, but what's the fun in that?

Serves: 4


Spice Mix

  • 1 tablespoon green cardamom (toasted, pods removed)
  • 1 tablespoon black cardamom (toasted, pods removed)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seed (toasted)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed (toasted)
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed (toasted)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh turmeric (1 T if dried)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Rice and Chicken (the Khao and Kai)

  • 1 pound chicken
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 1/2 onion (sliced thinly)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3-5 cloves
  • 2 cups basmati rice
In This Recipe


  1. add all the ingredients from the spice mix to a mortar and ground into a paste
  2. divide the spice mix in half and mix one half with the yogurt
  3. lightly salt the chicken pieces and mix with the yogurt spice mix and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes.
  4. wash and rinse the rice.
  5. heat the ghee and stir fry the other half of the spice mix.
  6. add the rice and coat with the spice mix over medium heat.
  7. Add 2 cups of water to the rice and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer with a cover (10 minutes)
  8. in another pan, melt another tablespoon of ghee and brown the chicken for about 5 minutes on each side.
  9. Add the chicken, onion and whole spices to the half-cooked rice and cover until the rice is cooked (approximately 30 minutes)
  10. Eat with lime and cilantro for garnish.

More Great Recipes:

Reviews (5) Questions (0)

5 Reviews

gingerroot February 1, 2011
This looks really delicious. I love your spice mix. I am saving this and can't wait to try it!
marytarry February 1, 2011
Just made this! Totally delicious and perfect comfort food on a bitter cold and snowy day
Author Comment
edamame2003 February 1, 2011
wow! so glad you liked it--it was comfort food in my house growing up as well.
healthierkitchen February 1, 2011
marytarry February 1, 2011
This dish looks so good that I'm going to brave the subzero temps tomorrow to get the chicken and onion I need. I've only made sweet cardamom dishes but your photo looks so good I can;t wait to try a savory one. This is your mom's dish - where is she from?
Thanks for sharing your recipe