Cass Abraham’s chicken briyani

Allow the fragrance to waft through your home with this flavour Cape Malay favourite

  More than 1 hour

 Serves 8

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  • 2 cups (500ml) plain yoghurt
  • 1 can (400g) chopped tomatoes
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 4 allspice
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 Tbsp (15ml) ground coriander
  • 1 tsp (5ml) turmeric
  • 1 tsp (5ml) grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp (10ml) crushed garlic
  • 2 Tbsp (30ml) masala
  • Salt and milled pepper


  • 4 cups (510g) basmati rice
  • 1 stick cassia (cinnamon works too)
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 cup (195g) brown lentils
  • Salt and milled pepper
  • 1 cup (250ml) oil
  • 3 onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 8 (about 1kg) chicken pieces
  • Pinch saffron, soaked
  • ½ cup (125g) butter
  • 1 cup (250ml) water


  1. Mix marinade ingredients together, pour over chicken and marinate for at least 1 hour.
  2. Boil rice, cassia and cardamom together in enough salted water to cover. Drain and set aside.
  3. Cook lentils in water until almost soft. Season, drain and set aside.
  4. Heat oil in a pot and fry onion until golden, about 5-8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  5. Fry potatoes in the same oil until golden, remove with a slotted spoon and set asid. Reserve oil.
  6. Place chicken and half the fried onions in a bowl.
  7. Sprinkle 2 cups (500ml) cooked rice over reserved oil.
  8. Arrange marinated chicken on top. Season.
  9. Layer lentils, potatoes and remaining cooked rice over chicken.
  10. Arrange remaining fried onion over rice and sprinkle over saffron.
  11. Dot with butter, pour over water and cover with a tight-fitting lid.
  12. Cook for 10 minutes over a high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour until chicken
  13. Stir garlic yoghurt ingredients together.
  14. Serve biryani with dollops of garlic yoghurt.
  15. Good idea: Serve with chicken with garlic yoghurt on the side. Combine plain yoghurt with chopped red onion, freshly chopped garlic and coriander for yoghurt topping.


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