The best Thalassery Chicken Biriyani

This is one of the best biriyani recipes ever. My family loves this and it is a bit spicier than normal thalassery biriyani. Difference here is that I marinate the chicken pieces with spices for atleast half an hour. This makes a huge difference in the taste of the chicken.

Thalassery is a town on the Malabar Coast in Kannur district in Kerela. The biryani is named after this place, and also the most popular and best served biryani throughout Kerela.

Let me tell you what is so special about this biryani and how it is different from other biryanis. Other than spices, it is the technique and also a different kind of rice used.

In other type of biryani, we usually cook the rice in lot of water and then strain it. Whereas, here we will cook the rice like a regular pulao, by cooking the rice in the measured amount of water or similar to steamed rice. Instead of using the regular long grain basmati rice, we use the short grain aromatic ‘Jeera Rice’. This type of rice is very popular in southern part of India.

Jeera Rice can be substituted with Basmati rice in case if it is not available, but the technique remains the same. Other dominating ingredients are the flavor of curry leaves and green chilies.



For biriyani masala powder

  • 1 star anise small

  • 4 green cardamoms / elaichi

  • 4 cloves / laung

  • 2 inch cinnamon sticks , thin / dalchini

  • 2 strands mace / javithri

  • ¼ tsp nutmeg / jaiphal, grated

  • ½ tsp shahi jeera

  • 1 tsp fennel seeds / saunf

  • 1 red chilli

  • ½ tsp pepper corn

To marinate chicken

  • 1 tbsp chilli powder

  • 1 tbsp coriander powder

  • 1 tsp turmeric powder

For gravy

  • 3 to 4 tbsps Ghee/ oil

  • 1 Handful cashews (about ¼ cup split & cleaned)

  • 2 tbsps raisins (use sweet raisins)

  • ½ to ¾ cup onions thinly sliced , for making fried onions

  • ½ cup onions (heaped) sliced , for gravy

  • 2 tbsps ginger garlic green chilli paste (1 tbsp ginger paste, 1 tbsp garlic paste, 2 to 3 green chilies)

  • ½ kg Chicken cleaned & cut

  • ¼ tsp turmeric / haldi

  • ½ cup tomatoes chopped & deseeded, ripe

  • Salt as needed

  • 2 tbsps curd / yogurt/ dahi

  • ¼ cup mint / mint leaves , chopped

  • ¼ cup coriander leaves chopped

For biriyani rice

  • 2 cups Jeerakasala rice / kaima (or basmati)

  • 1 to 2 tbsp Ghee(use more if desired)

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 star anise / biryani flower

  • 4 green cardamoms / elaichi

  • 4 to 5 cloves / laung

  • 1 inch cinnamon stick , thin

  • ¼ to ½ tsp fennel seeds / saunf/ sombu

  • Salt as needed

  • 3 ½ cups Hot water

For layering rice

  • Handful mint leaves , chopped

  • Handful coriander leaves , chopped

  • 1 tbsp Ghee

  • ½ tsp rose water , edible (optional)


Make Chicken Masala

  • Marinate chicken pieces with ingredients listed for atleast half an hour.

  • Meanwhile, prepare the fried garnish as well as the special Biriyani masala powder.

  • Also, chop and slice the fresh ingredients needed.

  • Crush the ginger, garlic and green chillies to a paste - using a pestle and mortar for best results

  • Slice onions and chop tomatoes.

  • In a heavy-bottomed vessel or cooker, add the ghee.

  • Heat on medium heat till melted.

  • Add the sliced onions and saute, whilst stirring on high heat- till softened.

  • Next, add the crushed paste of ginger, garlic and green chillies.

  • Saute till the ginger and garlic no longer emit their raw smell.

  • Add the drained chicken pieces and toss well on high heat to coat the chicken pieces well with the sauted ingredients.

  • Once the chicken has turned white (no longer pink) and is thoroughly coated, add turmeric and the special Thalassery Biriyani masala powder.

  • Toss well to distribute evenly..

  • Also, add the rock salt and the chopped tomatoes.

  • Stir and cook briefly.

  • Add the fresh mint and coriander leaves now, followed by the yoghurt and mix till the yoghurt disappears into the mixture.

  • Pour the lime juice over the masala.

  • When the masala is simmering, cover and cook on low heat for 10 minutes.

  • Open and add the ghee over the chicken masala. Stir gently..

  • Cover again and cook on low for 5 more minutes.

  • The gravy should be starting to thicken and the chicken should be tender.

  • Turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly.

  • When cooled down, take half the fried onions (BISTA- see the section for Fried Garnish) and crush them with your hands to form a powdery texture. Add this to the masala as well.Stir to mix in.

Make Biriyani Rice

  • Rinse the Biryani Rice once.

  • Drain.

  • Add a good spoonful of salt and rub into the rice.

  • Scrub the grains gently but thoroughly.

  • Rinse again thoroughly 3-5 times till the water runs clear.

  • Keep drained for a while.

  • Bring the water to boil in a pot with a tight lid.

  • Add the ghee.

  • Add whole spices listed.

  • Stir.Add the drained rice and stir.

  • Cook covered on low with a tight lid, opening and stirring occasionally from the bottom.

  • Cook till the water is absorbed and the rice is half cooked.

  • Add the cooked rice to the chicken masala.

  • Add mint leaves , coriander leaves, fried onions, cashews and raisins.

  • Cook covered on low heat for 10 minutes or until rice is cooked fully.

  • Serve with salad and pickle.

  • Do let me know if you have tried it and liked it.

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