Omani Chicken Biryani

I spent New Years in Oman this year and was fascinated by this wonderful country. Of course, I was also very interested in the food. We managed to eat out in a very simple traditional restaurant and enjoyed it very much. This one here is with grilled chicken but the idea of it was similar:

Back in Germany, my  friends gave me a book about Omani cuisine for Christmas and I couldn’t wait to try the recipes. This was my first attempt at a recipe and it turned out very well.

For 6 portions:

spice blend:
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

600g chicken pieces (I used breast and legs)
2 cloves garlic
1 small piece of fresh ginger
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 vegetable stock cube

500g basmati rice
3 whole cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick

onion garnish:
250ml vegetable oil
1 medium red onion, very thinly sliced


1 plum tomato, cored and chopped
1 medium red onion, halved
1/2 teaspoons whole black pepper corns
3 whole cloves
2 whole cardamom pods
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
vegetable oil
1 medium red onion, finely minced
6 cloves garlic, pressed/mashed
1 small piece of fresh ginger
1 vegetable stock cube
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
6 tablespoons tomato paste

3 tablespoons ghee for assembly

To make the spice mix, combine cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, and cardamom in a small bowl.

Prepare the chicken by removing any skin and excess fat. Place in a large pot with garlic, ginger, salt, cumin, cinnamon, stock cube, 2 teaspoons of the spice mix, and water to cover  everything. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook uncovered for 45 minutes. Remove the chicken from the broth (keep for other dishes if you like) and leave to cool completely.

Prepare the rice by rinsing with water until it runs clear. Place into a bowl and soak with water for 30 minutes.

To make the sauce,  puree tomato, halved onion, peppercorns, cloves, cardamom pods, cumin seeds, and 2 tablespoons of water in a food processor. Add more water if neccessary to form a smooth paste.

For the onion garnish, heat the vegetable oil in a pot and fry the thin onion slices until golden brown (about 8-10 minutes). Repeat this in small batches to avoid cooling of the oil. Transfer onto a paper towel to remove excess fat and set aside. Keep the pan with oil for later.

Heat a generous amount of vegetable oil in a large casserole dish. Sauté the chopped onions until brown. Add the garlic and ginger and stir. Increase the heat to high and add the pureed paste with 1 tablespoon of the spice blend, the stock cube, coriander, cinnamon, salt, and turmeric. Cook for a few minutes before stirring in the tomato paste and water to prevent burning.

While the sauce is cooking, fry the chicken in the pan used for the onions previously. Add the fried chicken to the sauce and mix well. Cook over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the rice with water, cardamom, cinnamon stick, salt. Bring to  boil rapidly, for 6-8 minutes only! Turn of the heat, drain the rice and set aside.

Remove the sauce and chicken from the casserole dish and set aside. Do not clean the pot!

Assemble the biryani by spreading half the rice into the pot, covering it with the sauce and the remaining rice. Sprinkle with the fried onions and cover for 15 minutes. Serve with some fresh yoghurt and enjoy!

2 thoughts on “Omani Chicken Biryani

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