Asma Khan’s Chicken Biryani Recipe From Her New Book ‘Ammu’
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Asma Khan, the lady who is pioneer in creating a safe space for many women by hiring an all-women staff, leaves no stone untuned when it comes to breaking the mould. Born and raised in Kolkata, her family roots is something that she always swears by. In her words “most of the time someone or the other was visiting to staying with you. Winter being the wedding season, and with so many of us at home there were conversations, gossips and so much connect that I could see. No one was scrolling phones, you are discussing life, discussing politics. Every family that I knew in Kolkata food was the centre focus for them. Our dining table as a meeting ground of different conversation, community, faith, and more, gathering were around food. Food was part of life not just nourishment. It was my greatest education eating with others discussing food that’s when I saw the link between food and stories”

Recently her latest book 'Ammu: Indian Home-Cooking to Nourish the Soul' was released where she pays hhomage to home-cooking and her Ammu’s (mother’s) recipes who was a Bengali from Jalpaiguri. The book sees recipes ranging from a simple Bhindi Sabji to the Bengali favourite Palong Shak Chingri long with many Mughlai delights that were her mother’s speciality like the Safed Murgh Ka Saalan and Sheer Korma and more. This fire brand lady,  Darjeeling Express, London owner happily says I am not a chef but I am a cook.

Even Nigella Lawson, the famous TV chef also took to Instagram as she referred Ammu as a “a beautiful and heartfelt book about Indian home cooking.”

Here’ the famous Asma Khan Chicken Biriyani from her book. 


200g plain flour

500g good-quality basmati rice

5 tbsp salt

½ tsp saffron strands

80ml full-fat milk

8 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil (sometimes I mix both and it works really well)

2 white onions, thinly sliced into half moons

1kg skinless chicken thighs, on the bone

3 garlic cloves, crushed

5-6cm piece of fresh ginger, grated

2 tbsp full-fat Greek-style yoghurt

½ tsp chilli powder

2 green cardamom pods

2 cloves

1cm piece of cinnamon stick

1cm piece of mace, crushed

⅛ tsp grated nutmeg

¼ tsp sugar

Juice of ½ lemon


    Mix the flour with enough water to make a firm dough, cover and leave to rest.

    Wash the rice in a bowl of cold water, moving your hand in gentle circular movements in one direction to avoid breaking the delicate tips of the rice (the virtually invisible tips, if broken off, will boil rapidly when the rice goes into the hot water, because of their size, and turn into glue-like starch, which will make all the rice sticky).

    Wash the rice in several changes of cold water until the water remains clear. Next, soak the rice. There should be at least 15–20cm of water in the bowl above the rice level. Add six teaspoons of the salt and soak the rice for at least two hours. The long soaking allows the rice to absorb water. As the rice is not hollow and dry when it is put into boiling water, the cooking time is minimised; this will help keep your rice grains long and separate.

    Put the saffron in a small bowl. Warm the milk to tepid: my mother would describe it as blood temperature – if you touch the milk it should feel only slightly warm. If you are using a microwave to heat the milk, remember to stir the milk before checking the temperature as there may be hot spots. Pour the tepid milk over the saffron and set aside to infuse.

    Heat the ghee or oil in a heavy-based pan over a medium-high heat and fry the onions until caramelised. Using a slotted spoon and leaving as much of the oil in the pan as possible, remove the onions to a plate, spreading them across the plate to cool.

    Remove half the oil from the pan and set aside. In the remaining oil add the chicken and cook over a medium-high heat until golden brown on both sides. Add the garlic, ginger, yoghurt, chilli powder and two teaspoons of the salt and cook over a medium-high heat until the garlic and ginger have lost their raw smell and the yoghurt has reduced. Add half the caramelised onions, then add warm water to cover the chicken, bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for about 25 minutes. You do not want the chicken to be tender: it should still be firm, as it will be cooked further with the rice.

    Drain the soaked rice. Boil the kettle and pour the water into a large pan. Bring back to the boil, add another six teaspoons of salt, then add the drained rice and boil until the rice is three-quarters cooked (this should not take more than five minutes). To test, remove one grain from the boiling water and squeeze it. There should be a hard core to the grain of rice. When the rice reaches this stage, drain and spread it on a tray to prevent it from continuing to cook.

    Assemble the biryani in a heavy-based pan with a tight-fitting lid. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken from its cooking liquid and place it in the pan. Strain the cooking liquid and pour over the chicken. Try to squeeze as much as you can from the onion/ginger/garlic residue, so the stock is nice and thick. It should just about cover the chicken pieces. Next, add the cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, mace and nutmeg. Add half the saffron milk, the sugar and squeezed lemon juice. Then add the rice, ensuring it covers the chicken. On top of the rice add the remaining caramelised onions, the remaining saffron milk and the reserved oil.