Chicken Breyani

Breyani ready to eat

I have many fond memories of this dish as my Mom used to make it when I was growing up, usually on a Sunday when we had family coming for lunch. It has a load of spices in it so is very tasty, but the curry flavour is extremely mild so it’s a perfect family dish. It’s also a great way to use up left-over chicken if you have some in your fridge and want to do something a bit different with it.

I made this particular dish for my craft club since I was catering that night, and I cooked it till it was just about done. Then I put the lid on, put the whole pot in the car and by the time I arrived at the other end, it just needed a little heating up. I served it with salad since the only downside to this dish for me is that there are no greens in it. Next time I make it though, I’ll experiment with adding some greens along with the rice, maybe something like broccoli florets or green beans.

The original recipe had ingredients like ready-made chicken spice and braai spice in it, but since I don’t keep those in my cupboard, I have put together my own mix of spices to create a similar taste, but without all the added nasties you generally find in ready-made mixes.

Usually you would use chicken stock for this recipe, but I have made it with a combination of Ina Paarman vegetable stock and NoMU Beef Rub, which tasted absolutely delicious. So basically use whatever you have on hand for the stock. Just don’t add extra salt until right at the end as stock is often quite salty.

For the rice, I have used plain white and basmati with equal success – the basmati is just slightly quicker to cook and has a bit more taste. The key is to stir fairly regularly, although gently, while it’s all cooking as the mix can get a bit gluey and stick to the bottom of the pot.

To serve, you can just spoon it onto plates for a family meal or, if you are serving to guests, you can put little bowls of chutney and tzatziki on the table, and a plate of crispy poppadoms, plus some salad if you like your greens.


  • 4 chicken breasts, or the equivalent in left-over cooked chicken
  • 2 medium onions
  • 3 medium potatoes
  • 4cm piece of ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3T olive oil
  • 2t ground cumin
  • 2t ground coriander
  • 2t ground cinnamon
  • 1t ground turmeric
  • ½t ground cloves
  • 1t ground allspice
  • 2T mild curry powder
  • 3 lime leaves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2c basmati or plain white rice, uncooked
  • Chicken or vegetable stock powder or cubes for 1½ – 2l of stock
  • 1½ – 2l boiling water

Optional extras to serve:

  • Chutney
  • Tzatziki, or a simple mix of cucumber cubes, yoghurt and chopped fresh mint
  • Poppadoms


If you are using raw chicken breasts, put those on to cook first. The simplest way is to put them in a saucepan, cover them with water and add a couple of teaspoons of chicken or veggie stock powder.

Poaching chicken

When they are cooked through i.e. no longer pink inside, remove them from the water (you can save the water to use as part of the stock if you like). Then cut them up into bite-sized chunks. If you already have left-over chicken on hand, then just cut that up and set aside.

Chopping chicken

Peel the onion, garlic and ginger, and chop them all up fairly small.

Chopped onion, garlic and ginger

Heat the olive oil in a large pot and then gently cook the onion, garlic and ginger until the onion starts to look translucent but not brown – probably about 5 minutes.

Onion starting to go translucent

While that is cooking, measure out all your spices into a bowl.


Then peel and chop up the potatoes into fairly small cubes.

Chopping potato

When the onion, garlic and ginger mix is ready, add the chicken, spices and potato to the pot.

Add chicken, spices and potato

Give it all a good stir so that the spices coat everything.

Mix in spices

Then pour in the rice and stir again so everything is nicely mixed.

Add rice to other ingredients

Mix the stock powder with boiling water to dissolve it.


Add the dissolved stock to the pot, top up with water to make up to 1½ litres and stir well.

Add stock to pot

Bring to the boil then simmer for 30 – 40 minutes until the rice is cooked, stirring about every 10 minutes so it doesn’t stick on the bottom. You may need to add some more stock or hot water if it starts to dry out too much before the rice is cooked.

It’s ready when the rice is tender and everything else is still moist. Taste at this point to check if you need to add any salt.

Chicken breyani ready to eat

Serve as is, or if you want to get a bit fancy, with chutney and tzatziki (or just a quick mix of chopped cucumber, yoghurt and mint) on the side, and some poppadoms for crunch.


PRINT RECIPE (Print-friendly version)

© Alexandra Lawrence and Inspired Nourishment, 2014




Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s