Kabuli Chana Biryani: Indulge In Layers Of Spices And Protein
Image Credit: Chana pulao

Just like how the humble dal-chawal is the ultimate comfort food, a biryani falls under the extravagant list of comfort foods that can make any day better. A one-pot dish rich in flavours, aroma, and spices, biryani comes with layers of surprises. Though traditionally biryani is prepared with meat, a variation of it with plant-based protein – Kabuli chana - is tastier and equally beneficial. Kabuli chana biryani not only puts the mundane ‘chole’ from chole chawal in an interesting spotlight but at the same time is a healthier palate of carbohydrates and protein. And what better way to consume both – rice and Kabuli chana – than having a plate bursting with a multitude of flavours. Interestingly, though this member of the legume family is grown in India it derives its name from Kabul in Afghanistan. According to historical accounts, since Afghans were good traders they would sell this gram in India. As a result of which it went on to be called Kabuli chana when it was introduced in the country in the 18th Century. But if the history of Kabuli chana, or chickpea, was to be traced it is one of the earliest cultivated legumes. Some 9,500-year-old remains have been found in the Middle East proving its cultivation. And rightly so, as chickpea is one of the main ingredients in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines, such as hummus, and falafel. Over time, chickpea also became an important part of Indian cuisine used in various forms.

As for the concept of biryani, there is no fixed account as to when and where the first biryani recipe was cooked. One theory is that it was a one-pot dish made for the fighting army with the leftover meat, rice, and spices, while another suggests that it originates from birinj, the Persian word for rice. Another states that biryani’s advent into the Indian subcontinent took place with the Mughal and Awadhi cuisine, trickling down to the south and forming multiple variations. With the Mughals, biryani became an elaborate preparation in the royal kitchens accompanied by a mix of regional spices and rice. Moving past the pool of theories, biryani’s existence has been a blessing. And that magic combined with Kabuli chana is a must-try. 

Here is the recipe of Kabuli Chana Biryani:


1. 2 cups rice

2. 4 bay leaf

3. 3 cinnamon stick

4. 10 cardamoms

5. 11 cloves

6. 2 tbsp Oil

7. 5-6 boiled potatoes

8. 2 tsp red chilli powder

9. 2 tbsp ghee

10. 1 cup sliced onions

11. 1 tbsp green chilies

12. 1 cup chopped tomatoes

13. 1 tsp turmeric powder

14. 1 tsp garam masala

15. 1 tsp coriander powder

16. 1 cup curd

17. 2 cups boiled chana

18. 2 tbsp birista

19. 1 tsp mint leaves

20. Salt and water as required


1. In a pan, add 2 cups of washed rice, 2 bay leaves, 2 cinnamon sticks, 5 cardamoms, 6 cloves, water, and salt as required. 

2. Bring rice to boil and then strain.

3. To another pan add 1 tbsp oil, boiled potatoes, add 1 tsp red chilli powder, and salt as per taste. Stir well till potato caramelises and keep aside.

4. In a pressure cooker add oil, 1 tbsp ghee, 1 cinnamon stick, 5 cloves, 5 cardamoms, 3 bay leaves, and stir well. 

5. To this, add onions, green chilies, and tomatoes. Add turmeric, garam masala, red chilli powder, coriander powder, and salt as per taste.

6. Cook for a few minutes then add curd and boiled chana. 

7. To this add the first layer of boiled rice, followed by a layer of fried aloo and 1 tbsp birista. 

8. Place the last layer of rice, 1 tbsp ghee, and 1 tbsp birista.

9. Garnish with mint leaves and close the lid. Cook for 2-3 whistles.

Kabuli Chana Biryani is a filling portion combined with the richness of health. This take on chole chawal will win hearts on a Sunday brunch, partnered with raita and some fitters. The soft texture of chickpea laden in fragrant spices and the goodness of rice make this biryani wholesome.