Cornelia's South African Biryani

Cornelia's South African Biryani


7 people made this

This is a traditional South African one pot dish. Don't be put off by the list of spices, because by flavouring each section of the dish as you go, the end result is a rich flavoured centrepiece.

canobie New South Wales, Australia

Serves: 8 

  • 2 kilos chicken pieces with bone cut into chunks
  • 2 cups black/brown cooked lentils or drained 400g can
  • 1 cup yoghurt
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 1 tomato
  • 6 chat potatoes (small round new potatoes)
  • 2 large brown onions
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup ghee
  • Chicken marinade
  • 1 tspn ground ginger
  • 2-3 cloves chopped garlic
  • 4 tspn turmeric
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 4 pods cardamom
  • 6-12 small whole green chilles (depending on how hot you like it)
  • 1 tspn ground cumin
  • 1 tspn ground coriander
  • Cooking spices
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 3 pods cardamom
  • 1 long chopped green chilli
  • 1 tspn cumin seeds
  • 1 tspn ground coriander
  • 1 tblspn grated fresh ginger
  • 2-3 cloves cloves chopped garlic
  • Rice spices
  • 2 pods cardamom
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • Masala mix
  • 1 cup chopped fresh coriander
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
  • Garnish
  • 1/2 tblspn cumin seeds
  • 15 drops rose water (optional)
  • 2 tblspn crisp fried onion (asian style)
  • 3-4 large ripe tomatoes

Preparation:30min  ›  Cook:1hour  ›  Extra time:1hour marinating  ›  Ready in:2hours30min 

  1. Rub chicken pieces with ground ginger, garlic and turmeric. Place in a large bowl with remaining marinade spices, yoghurt and small chopped tomato. Let marinade for at least 1 hr in fridge.
  2. Boil rice with rice spices in 5 cups water until only half done. Drain, remove spices and set aside.
  3. Heat half of the oil and all the ghee in a pan. Add potatoes cut in quarters and cook for 5-10 mins till lightly browned and crisp but only half cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside.
  4. Add sliced onions to pan and cook gently until golden. Add cooking spices and stir for a few mins to release flavours and smells.
  5. Add marinated chicken pieces to onions and any juices from bowl and lower heat. Simmer for 20 mins.
  6. You are now ready to assemble this one pot dish.
  7. Place remaining oil in a very large heavy based pot with a tight fitting lid. (or a couple of layers of foil tightly closed around the top).
  8. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the half cooked rice and all the lentils on bottom of pot.
  9. Gently place cooked chicken and any sauce over lentils.
  10. Layer the half cooked potatoes on top. Gently push, DON'T STIR, potatoes into sauce to level the top a bit.
  11. Sprinkle masala mix on top of potatoes. Slice tomatoes from the garnish and place a layer on top of masala mix.
  12. Cover with remaining rice, half a cup of water and sprinkle with remaining garnishes. Cover pot and cook on high heat for 5 mins. Reduce heat and simmer 1 hour.
  13. Place finished pot in centre of table and tell everyone to be sure to dig down through all the layers. (My favourite part is if the rice and lentil layer "catches" a little on the bottom).
  14. Serve with extra yoghurt with a little mint mixed through and lots of chutney like Mrs Balls "Blatjang".


This dish can be made in advance until you are ready to assemble on the day and cook. Being a curry it is even nicer the next day! It can also be arranged in a baking dish and cooked in the oven for an hour.


You can also use lamb or pork for this dish. Keeping the bones in the curry adds more flavour but you can cook it without bones if you prefer.

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Reviews (2)


. This is great. Let it ready the day before and added more rice. Served 10. I do not know what dash patotoes are so I put other kind of potatoes available here in Brazil. - 08 Sep 2010


- 13 Jul 2011

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