Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Thalassery style Chicken Biryani

Thalasserry, a city on the Malabar coast of Kerala has always been popular for its amazing food including the biryani. In our eyes, this is the Biryani to die for, the very best in its kind. And ever since this blog came into existence, this is one item we endlessly talked about making. Though it comes with such a delay and such a tedious procedure, its truly worth a try.  

Prep Time: 2 hrs
Chicken (medium size pieces): 1 cup
Jeerakasala rice* : 2 cups
Onions (finely sliced) : 4-5 medium sized
Tomatoes (medium size chopped): 3
Green chillies: 5-6
Ginger (crushed): 1 teaspoon
Garlic (crushed): 1 teaspoon or 2 pods
Coriander leaves (chopped): 1 bunch
Mint leaves: 1 bunch
Cashew nuts: handful
Raisins: handful
oil: 1/4 cup
Ghee: 1/4 cup
Lemon Juice: 2 tablespoon
Saffron Milk : 5 -6 saffron strands mixed in 3 tablespoons of warm milk

Spice powder : 3/4 - 1 tablespoon (Adjust to your liking)
Dry roast the following on low flame and  grind into a fine powder.

Cardamom: 2
Cinnamon stick: 1
Cloves: 4-5
Nutmeg (grate  a pinch)
Javithri/Mace: 1/4 teaspoon 
Saunf: 1 teaspoon
Shahi Jeera/Caraway seeds:  1/2 teaspoon
Pepper: 2 teaspoons
Cumin seeds: 1 teaspoon

* Jeerakasala also called Kaima / Jeerakasamba  rice is a special type of Indian rice mainly used in Biryani preparation. It has shorter grains compared to Basmati rice, but is equally aromatic and flavorful.
* You can fry the onions fully in ghee or like we did, in a mix of oil and ghee.
* Deep fried onions are called bista in local thalasserry slang
*  Rice/water ratio = 1 cup rice : little more than 3/4 cup or 85% of  1 cup
* Frying the cashew and raisins are optional since it will anyway get steam cooked in the Dum procedure.

Heat oil and ghee (1/4 cup each) in a deep dish/kadai to deep fry the onions until golden brown. Make  sure you fry onions in batches else the water content will make it mushy. Keep aside 3/4 rth of the fried onions  for the chicken and the rest is for Dum/garnish. In the remaining oil fry the cashew nut and raisins.

Heat a deep heavy bottom dish (like a stockpot). Add the chopped tomatoes and stir. Its not like we missed the oil, this recipe doesn't call for any oil to make the chicken base. Add 2-3 table spoon water to cook the tomatoes. Once the tomatoes start softening add the crushed ginger, garlic and green chilies and stir. When the raw smell fades away, add the cleaned chicken pieces and mix well. Add salt and chopped mint leaves. Cover and cook. Make sure it doesn't burn at the bottom. If its drying up too much add 1/4 cup water and mix. 

When the chicken is almost cooked, add 3/4 of the fried onions and stir well. Let it simmer. Add the spice powder, lemon juice and chopped coriander leaves. Keep it on low flame and mix thoroughly until  the gravy thickens. It should be a semi dry to dry consistency. Adjust the salt. If you want it to be more spicy, add some more pepper powder.  Turn off the heat.
Parallelly cook the rice in a deep dish. We usually cook the rice in a pressure cooker. Boil the water, add salt, 2 teaspoons ghee, 5 cloves, 1 cardamom pod and 2 cinnamon sticks. Add the washed rice to the boiling water. Cover it with the pressure cooker's lid without the whistle until steam starts to come. Now keep the whistle on and cook at medium heat for about 10 mins. Remove it from the heat and keep aside. Fluff it up with a fork.
To do the final Dum procedure, add the fried onions and chopped coriander leaves on top of the cooked chicken. Now spread the rice evenly over it. Sprinkle the saffron milk. Add the cashew and raisin. Top it off with any leftover fried onions. Cover it tight and leave it either on the gas stove on low flame or in the oven at 350F for 15 - 20 mins. 

Mix well before you serve.  Typically this Biryani is served it with coconut chammanthi, pappadam and dates pickle.

After a thousand searches we hit the right note with this recipe courtesy Taste of Kerala, Amrita TV.  


  1. I always wanted to try a Thalassery style biryani. This looks simply perfect, amazing & yum!! I'm bookmarking to try it soon :)

  2. Yum ...looks so gud ..gud recipe ..thanks for sharing

  3. a mouthwatering biriyani.....superb

  4. where can I buy that rice? Is it available in Indian stores here in Seattle area?

  5. Sounds delicious. Wish we could have that rice in our stores here; do you have a specific brand or are there others available in your Indian grocery store? Thanks!

  6. Looks really yum... but just one point, since my husband's place is close to Thalasery, once the dum is done, the rice is seperated into another bowl, mixed well with the dum items (cashew, raisin, etc.) and the masala is served seperately.

  7. heavenly...

  8. I tried at home and it was really delicious... My husband loved it so much and said this is the best biriyani I have ever made.. Thanks a lot!

    One thing I really should appreciate you both is the exact measurements you guys specify for the recipes.. You are really awesome!!

  9. Yummy and delicious...
    happy to follow visit mine if time permits..

  10. Amazing the visit was worth…

  11. That looks so delicious :) !

  12. Hey,

    Currently I am doing my research on The different ways of cooking Biryani. I made a document which has some questions about the process of cooking Biryani. \

    Attached is the link of the document.

    Please feel free to go through it and if you have some suggestions please let me know.

    thank you

  13. Mouthwatering here,what a terrific and super tempting.Thanks for sharing. from -

  14. Nice recipes..The visit was useful.Thanks for sharing.
    from -

  15. Thanks for sharing this. Made this yesterday and it was absolutely delicious! I too have tried several recipes claiming to be Thalassery style but as you rightly said this is spot on!

  16. Yummy and delicious...visit was useful and informative.
    from :

  17. tried it...came out very well.. :)

  18. This was the tastiest biryani I've ever cooked

  19. can u tell me the normal basmati rice is ok for this receipe

    1. Normal basmati rice will not give authentic Thalassery biryani taste or aroma, it is the Jeerakasala rice which gives it the taste and aroma

  20. came out very well...option for baking instead of dum procedure was very useful............thnaks for sharing the receipe

  21. Yeah its so delicous in its looks and taste but for we guys from thalassery its so common dish (2+ times a month in my home always) and it has to be ultimate to say even its good...!!! For every thalassery guy mostly biriyani by his/her mother will be best. :)

  22. One of the best recipes of Thalassery Biryani I have read so far, though I think rice cooked in stockpot will give better results, pressure cooker seem to over mix the rice, unless you are an expert, it is always better to make ghee rice in stockpot or vessels of similar kind.

  23. This is one of a kind chicken biryani recipe, it look tastier than ever and thats why I will also include this on my what-to-cook-list. I hope I can make a delicious one, thats like the image you provided haha :). Thanks for sharing it. :)

  24. Excellent post with useful information..And the combination of elements are very different and unique on the special day

  25. very nice article. Hey can you please post Malabar Chicken biryani recipe ? you are really very good chef.

  26. Very nice food item biriyani. I like this. Thanks for sharing the preparation of biriyani.
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  28. It is a long pending thank you :-) My husband works with central govt and we get transferred every other year or so. I have been in most of South India and in north Indian cities. Currently based in Delhi. I have always missed Kerala biryani and have always yearned for that taste, which I could never find in any of the other state biryanis. I also tried many online recipes amd one that came almost close was that from Tasty Circle. And then I bumped in yours and I cant thank you enough. This recipe brought back the memories and I could prove it to my husband why I crib when it comes to other biryanis :) I make this almost once a week amd today I am planning to cook and take it for a potluck with my friends here. I love this biryani and so does my husband. I hope my friends too will enjoy this. Thank you so very much for sharing this recipe and I think the biryani masala makes all the difference :-)

  29. Hi..first time in your blog.really impressed by this recipe too.and I want to make it for my family.usually I cook pressure cooker biriyani . with half kg bullet I have a doubt if I am trying your recipe what is the measurement for rice and chicken in kg..can I use 1/2 kg rice and 3/4 kg chicken nd proceed with the same ingredients given above???

  30. Love your recipes.

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