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Instant Pot Chicken Biryani

Treat yourself to mouth-watering biryani without setting aside most of your day to make it; our quick Instant Pot chicken biryani cooks in one hour and combines chicken, long-grained basmati rice, caramelized onion, and warm spices! 

WHAT IS BIRYANI?

Traditional biryani involves a wonderfully, long, and satisfying process of layering meat, vegetables, rice, and aromatics. The word biryani comes from the Persian word “biran,” meaning “fried before cooking.” As a result, historians believe this flavorful rice dish was born out of Persia. Like many tasty dishes, like pulao and kabobs, biryani made its way to India and Pakistan along with the Mughals.

WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

For the Marinade:

  • Yogurt: Yogurt tenderizes the chicken and adds texture.
  • Lemon Juice: Lemon juice marinates the chicken.
  • Biryani Masala: Biryani masala combines garam masala, Kashmiri chili powder, turmeric, and salt for maximum flavor.
  • Garlic and Ginger Paste: Garlic and ginger paste add a depth of flavor to the chicken.
  • Chicken: I use skinless, bone-in chicken thighs, legs, and quarters. If you prefer boneless chicken, I suggest chicken thighs. You can prepare meat for biryani in two ways. Make kachi biryani, where the raw meat and rice steam together, or fry the chicken partially or separately and allow it to cook with the rice; this method is called pakki biryani.

For the Biryani:

  • Ghee: Ghee is a staple in Indian and Pakistani cuisine and develops a deep, nutty base that sets the stage for the dish and fry the chicken.
  • Onion: Caramelized onions become a rich layer in our chicken biryani.
  • Whole Spices: Add cumin seeds, green cardamom, and star anise to a spice ball for easy retrieval.
  • Ground Spices: Added along with the remaining paste, fry chicken in Kashmiri chili powder, coriander powder, and ground cumin.
  • Bay Leaves: Bay leaves subtly flavor the dish.
  • Salt
  • Basmati Rice: The key to delicious biryani involves soaking the rice in water beforehand; the longer, the better! Soaking results in rice with length and luxury you would expect from biryani; if you enjoy the bright coloring of restaurant-style biryani, consider adding food coloring to the plain rice to give it that effect.

HOW TO MAKE INSTANT POT CHICKEN BIRYANI

MARINATE – Combine the ingredients for the marinade in a mixing bowl, then coat the chicken evenly; cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

PREPARE THE RICE – Wash the rice until water runs clear, then soak it for at least 20 minutes. Set it aside.

Caramelized onion create the base for chicken biryani.

SAUTE – Warm three tablespoons of ghee in an Instant Pot in saute mode. Add the onion and cook until they brown and caramelize.

Reserve some of the caramelized onion for layering in your biryani.

Remove half of the cooked onion and set it aside.

SEASON – Stir in cumin seed, green cardamom, and star anise; cook for 30 seconds until it becomes aromatic.

ADD – Add the chicken and excess paste into Instant Pot, then add the remaining dry spices. Fry the mixture for 3 minutes; stir often to prevent burning. Then, add two to three tablespoons of water to deglaze the pot.

PRESSURE COOK – Stir in the salt and bay leaves. Secure the lid and cook on manual high pressure for 4 minutes with quick release.

COMBINE – Drain the soaked rice and add 1 cup to a rice cooker or saucepan to cook separately with 1 cup of water. Add the remaining 2 cups of rice, salt, and 2 cups of water to the Instant Pot. Stir to release anything stuck on the bottom. Secure the lid and cook on manual high pressure for 8 minutes with quick release.

ASSEMBLY – To serve, layer the biryani mixture from the Instant Pot onto the bottom of a serving platter, followed by a layer of plain basmati rice and reserved fried onions. Repeat this process with the remaining ingredients.

Chicken Biryani topped with cilantro and ready to be served.

SERVE – Garnish with a final layer of fried onion, fresh cilantro, and green chilies. Serve with raita, and enjoy.

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I’M GETTING A ‘BURN NOTIFICATION ON THE INSTANT POT

How do I keep this from happening?

  1. Deglaze the Instant Pot after frying the chicken; this will release onions or paste stuck on the bottom.
  2. Add the rice and water, and stir to combine to release anything stuck on the bottom of the Instant Pot.
  3. Secure the Instant Pot sealing ring before cooking the biryani.

WHAT TO DO WITH THE LEFTOVERS 

  • FRIDGE – Store the leftovers in an air-tight container; it will keep in the fridge for 4-5 days.
  • FREEZE – Allow the dish to cool completely. Then, add it to a freezer-safe container or bag. Biryani freezes for up to two months. When you’re ready to eat, defrost it in the fridge overnight.
  • REHEAT – Warm a single serving in the microwave, or add it all to a saute pan for a quick and easy meal the whole family will enjoy.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can I make vegetarian biryani? Vegan?

I have deep admiration for biryani! It’s versatile, and the protein options are endless! Some biryanis highlight boiled eggs or mixed vegetables as the main ingredient. Use a combination of green beans, cauliflower, carrots, and peas for a mixed vegetable biryani. To make this recipe vegan, replace yogurt and ghee with something vegan-friendly; I suggest coconut milk and vegan butter.

Why do I separate the rice in this recipe?

Great question- cooking biryani in the Instant Pot often results in a layer of sticky rice at the bottom of the pan. I attempt to counteract this by reserving a portion of rice that is light and fluffy to incorporate with it. If you are in a hurry, skip this step altogether and add all three cups of rice to the Instant Pot, along with three and a half cups of water. Doing so won’t alter the recipe; it’s all a matter of preference.

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Chicken Biryani topped with cilantro and ready to be served.

Instant Pot Chicken Biryani

Tressa Jamil
Instant Pot chicken biryani has all the mouth watering appeal of traditional biryani but our recipe cuts the cooking time in half!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Marinating Time 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian, Pakistani
Servings 8 people
Calories 447 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

For the Marinade:

  • ½ cup yogurt, full-fat
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons homemade garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon Kashmiri chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic and Ginger Paste
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 2 pounds chicken thighs and legs, bone-in and skinless

For the Biryani:

Instructions
 

  • Combine the ingredients for the marinade in a mixing bowl, then coat the chicken evenly; cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Wash the rice until water runs clear, then soak it for at least 20 minutes. Set it aside.
  • Warm three tablespoons of ghee in an Instant Pot in saute mode. Add the onion and cook until they brown and caramelize.
  • Remove half of the cooked onion and set it aside.
  • Stir in cumin seed, green cardamom, and star anise; cook for 30 seconds until it becomes aromatic.
  • Arrange the chicken and the excess paste into Instant Pot, then add the remaining dry spices. Fry the mixture for 3 minutes; stir often to prevent burning. Then, add two to three tablespoons of water to deglaze the pot.
  • Stir in the salt and bay leaves. Secure the lid and cook on manual high pressure for 4 minutes with quick release.
  • Drain the soaked rice and add 1 cup of the rice to a rice cooker or saucepan to cook separately along with 1 cup of water. Add the remaining 2 cups of rice, salt, and 2 cups of water to the Instant Pot. Stir to release anything stuck on the bottom. Secure the lid and cook on manual high pressure for 8 minutes with quick release.
  • To serve, layer the biryani mixture from the Instant Pot onto the bottom of a serving platter, followed by a layer of plain basmati rice and reserved fried onions. Repeat this process with the remaining ingredients.
  • Garnish with a final layer of fried onion, fresh cilantro, and green chilies. Serve with raita, and enjoy.

Notes

  • Food Coloring: Add a bit of food coloring to the reserved white rice to make the dish pop, as is the custom in restaurants and large get-togethers. 
 
  • Nutrition Disclosure: The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for professional advice.
 
  • Web Story: Check out our web story for Instant Pot Chicken Biryani!

Nutrition

Serving: 1 ServingCalories: 447kcalCarbohydrates: 52gProtein: 17gFat: 18gSodium: 641mgFiber: 2gSugar: 3g
Keyword chicken biryani, instant pot chicken
Did you make this recipe? Let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and follow @thejamilghar or tag #thejamilghar on Instagram!
Recipe Rating




Vince Pinto

Monday 11th of April 2022

Like what?!? This legit might be the best meal I have ever had in my life. Such a perfect balance of literally everything. I would suggest this meal to absolutely everyone.

Tressa - Jamil Ghar Team

Monday 11th of April 2022

That's such high praise! Thanks, Vince!