Lemon Chicken Biryani

Lemony Chicken Biryani is a lush comforting one pot meal ~ theviewfromgreatisland.com

This Lemon Chicken Biryani recipe is a delicious gift that comes to us from Persia, via India ~ the fragrant basmati rice is flavored with a blend of spices and the juices from the chicken that cook along with it…cashews, currants and sliced almonds round out this lush one pot meal.

Lemony Chicken Biryani in a blue cast iron pot

Biryani is my standing order whenever I dine in or take out from an Indian restaurant ~ it’s carby and comforting with lots of interesting favors and textures. Originally Persian, and then adopted by India, biryani is a much loved dish made with basmati rice, caramelized onions, spices, and yogurt, along with meat, chicken, or seafood. It can also be vegetarian, which is my usual choice. The rice is layered with the other ingredients before baking so all the flavors get a good chance to mingle together. There are more versions of biryani than you could possibly imagine, and believe it or not, this one is on the simpler side. A hint of lemon makes it special.

Lemon Chicken Biryani is a lush, comforting one pot dish made with basmati rice, lots of spices, and chicken thighs ~ theviewfromgreatisland.com

It’s the spices that set biryani apart from a regular Western chicken and rice casserole. This recipe features coriander (in leaf and seed pod form,) cumin, fennel, both black and green cardamom, peppercorns, and turmeric, along with fresh ginger and garlic. You’ll toast the spices in a dry pan for a minute or so to bring out their flavors before grinding them up with the ginger and garlic to form a paste. A mini food processor works perfectly for this, although if you’re more low-tech, you can use a mortar and pestle.

TIP: All these spices for this Lemon Chicken Biryani are readily available in your grocery store with the exception of the cardamom pods. These are well worth tracking down, the flavor is incomparable. If you don’t have a local specialty or gourmet store, try buying them online.

Making Lemon Chicken Biryani

One of the defining characteristics of a biryani is the layering of the ingredients. The browned chicken is layered into the onions and par-cooked rice so that the juices permeate everything as it bakes.

TIP: A wide shallow cast iron casserole with a lid is perfect for this dish. These can range from very pricey, to less pricey to very reasonable.

Lemon Chicken Biryani topped with herbs and pomegranate seeds

Basmati is a long grain rice from India that you’ll find right in the rice section of your supermarket. I love it because it has a beautiful aroma and flavor, and always cooks up fluffy and separate, not sticky. I’ve used it before in my Basmati and Wild Rice with Chickpeas, Currants and Herbs, and in Mejadra, a comforting Middle Eastern dish made with basmati, lentils and spices. It also stars in one of my favorite dishes, Persian Jeweled Rice.

TIP: Many stores carry imported basmati rice from India, and I highly recommend giving it a try. The fragrance and flavor is far better and more pronounced than you’ll get with American varieties.

Lemon Chicken Biryani in a cast iron pot

“I made this for dinner last night. Enjoyed by us both and was lucky enough to have ‘leftovers’. I used quinoa in place of rice as one of us doesn’t eat rice. I guess that changes it from being Biryani but it was delicious. Thank you for another enjoyable feast..”


This recipe is adapted from Thomasina Miers in The Guardian

chicken biryani
3.61 from 48 votes

Lemon Chicken Biryani

The fragrant basmati rice is flavored with a blend of spices and the juices from the chicken that cook along with it…cashews, currants and sliced almonds round out this lush one pot meal.
Course dinner
Cuisine Indian
Yield 8 servings
Calories 610kcal
Author Sue Moran


  • 1 3/4 cups basmati rice
  • 27 ounces just under 3 1/2 cups, chicken stock, divided
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil or ghee clarified butter
  • 8 chicken thighs or a combination of legs and thighs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large onion thinly sliced
  • 1 large shallot thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 2 black cardamom pods seeds removed, husks discarded
  • 15 green cardamom pods seeds removed, husks discarded
  • 1 thumb-sized knob fresh ginger peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves peeled
  • 1/2 cup whole cashews raw preferred
  • approximately 1/4 cup 50g ground almonds
  • 8 Tbsp Greek yogurt whole milk
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/3 cup currants
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon


  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • fresh coriander leaves
  • pomegranate seeds
  • lemon wedges


  • Set the oven to 350F
  • Put the rice and 1 3/4 cups of the stock (400ml) in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, turn down the heat and cook for 8 minutes, then take off the heat and set aside.
  • Coat the bottom of a large skillet with olive oil or ghee and heat on medium high until hot. Season both sides of the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, and then brown, in batches, for 5 minutes on each side. Set the chicken aside on a plate and cover with foil.
  • Add the onions and shallots to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and saute for about 15 minutes, stirring often, until softened.
  • In another dry skillet toast the spices over medium heat for a couple of minutes, keeping them moving the whole time. Take off the stove and grind them in a small food processor. Add the ginger and garlic and process together into a rough paste.
  • Add the paste to the pan with the onions, along with the cashews and saute for 3-4 minutes, stirring almost constantly so the garlic doesn’t brown.
  • Stir in the almond meal, yogurt, turmeric, currants, lemon juice and zest, along with the rice, and combine everything well. Add salt and pepper if necessary.
  • Now you will layer the rice and chicken in a large casserole dish. Start with 1/2 of the rice, and nestle down 1/2 of the chicken. Add the rest of the rice and chicken, and arrange evenly.
  • Add the rest of the hot stock (make sure it is hot) and pour over the casserole. Cover tightly.
  • Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. This will depend on the size of your chicken pieces. If you have a thermometer it should read 160-165F.
  • Fluff the rice a bit, rearrange the chicken, and garnish with the almonds, coriander leaves, and pomegranate seeds. I like to serve with a few lemon wedges on the side, too.

Cook’s notes


Calories: 610kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 16g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 114mg | Sodium: 236mg | Potassium: 677mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 101IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 105mg | Iron: 3mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although theviewfromgreatisland.com tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

You Might Also Like


    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    Tressa J. May
    September 19, 2017 at 5:55 am

    I told my mom to prepare this recipe for me. Eagerly waiting to taste this.

    • Reply
      September 20, 2017 at 7:27 am

      I love this recipe, Tressa, hope you do too 🙂

  • Reply
    Barbara Jean
    February 11, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    Why do you add 1/34 broth before it goes in the oven ? Cooking this tonight in Iver BC Canada Barbara Jean

    • Reply
      January 26, 2019 at 2:08 pm

      The added stock helps the dish cook and adds flavor Barbara.

  • Reply
    November 12, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    This Lemon Chicken Biryani looks and sounds wonderful. I would really like to make it, but a little clarification of the second part of the directions on Step #9 would be appreciated.
    These are the directions as shown in the recipe on your website: “9. Add the rest of the hot stock (make sure it is hot) and pour over the casserole. Cover with a clean dishcloth and cover tightly.
    Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. ” Cut & Pasted directly from your website.
    My confusion starts with the instructions to cover the casserole with a clean dishcloth & cover it tightly. Then being instructed to bake the casserole in the oven for 30-40 minutes.
    First, I am not sure how you would cover a casserole tightly with a dishtowel. Second, It doesn’t seem very safe to place a dry dishtowel (even on top of a casserole) in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes.

    I am hoping that some part of the directions are missing or that I totally missed an important detail.
    At any rate, your posts, recipes and assistance is appreciated.


    • Reply
      November 12, 2016 at 8:35 pm

      You do cover the casserole with a dish towel, and then put the lid on top of that. I set the casserole on a baking sheet and put it right in the oven. The dish towel technique is common in Middle Eastern pilaf recipes, and it should be fine in the oven. If you’re concerned, I think you could just omit it and cover the casserole with a lid, or foil if you don’t have a lid. I think the towel is meant to absorb excess moisture.

  • Reply
    November 12, 2016 at 11:31 am

    5 stars
    I made this for dinner last night. Enjoyed by us both and was lucky enough to have ‘leftovers’. I used Quinoa in place of Rice as one of us doesn’t eat rice!! I guess that changes it from being Biryani but it was delicious. Thank you for another enjoyable feast.

    • Reply
      November 13, 2016 at 8:24 am

      Thanks Mary ~ I wouldn’t have thought to use quinoa, but that sounds great!

  • Reply
    Laura | Tutti Dolci
    November 2, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    5 stars
    Such a gorgeous and fragrant recipe, Sue! This is exactly the kind of meal I’ve been craving for dinner!

  • Reply
    November 2, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    5 stars
    This is such a light but wholesome and fragrant supper for the whole family and setting it in the center of the table will only bring out the good part of ourselves. What a great meal you put together, Sue!

  • Reply
    November 2, 2016 at 11:11 am

    Gorgeous dish Sue, love all the flavors and textures here!

  • Reply
    November 2, 2016 at 10:54 am

    Once again, great minds think alike. You seem to have a knack for that! This is exactly the type of dish my husband and I have been craving, but didn’t have a recipe. Will be trying it tomorrow evening. It seems like when I have a craving for something, you have the recipe for it, thanks!

  • Reply
    November 2, 2016 at 10:37 am

    In my mind I can smell the aroma of this dish, so I can’t wait to make it. Thank you, Sue. Oh, thank you for the reminder to pin the recipe. For the first time, I would have forgotten to otherwise. Cheers, Ardith

  • Reply
    Karen @ Seasonal Cravings
    November 2, 2016 at 11:26 am

    5 stars
    So bright and colorful. I know my kids would love this one!

1 2 3

Sharing is Caring

Help spread the word. You're awesome for doing it!


Get my tips, tricks & recipes for easy

foolproof baking


logo png