Chicken Biryani

Many Indian dishes are built around a seasoning paste of ginger, garlic, and various spices. Traditionally, of course, such pastes were homemade but as Indians, especially those in the UK, US, and Canada, have become affluent and pressed for time, commercially prepared cooking pastes have become popular. Patak’s, located in the northwest of England, is one of the largest producers of cooking pastes and their products are widely available across the country. I poached this recipe from the back of a jar of Patak’s Biryani Paste with some minor modifications.


  • 2 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 6 Tbsp. Patak’s Biryani Paste
  • 6 ounces chicken breast, diced
  • 4 ounces basmati rice, rinsed and drained
  • 7 ounces fresh or canned tomatoes
  • 4 ounces fresh or frozen peas or other vegetable, optional
  • 1¼ cups water
  • Fresh cilantro to garnish, optional


Heat the oil in a large pan with a tightly-fitting lid and sauté the onion until golden, at least 10 minutes. Do not cut this step short; light caramelization of the onions is important to a rich flavor. If the onions begin to burn, turn down the heat and continue cooking, stirring often until deep golden.

Stir in the biryani paste and cook for 2 or 3 minutes until the oil begins to separate. Add the chicken to the pan and cook until lightly browned.

Add the rice, tomatoes, peas if using, and water, stirring to combine well. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer over low heat until rice is done and the water has evaporated, about 15 to 20 minutes.


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