Recipe type: MAIN
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-12
  • 2½lb Chicken bone in. (you can also use chicken thighs or breast)
  • 3½ cups Basmati rice, rinsed till water runs clear. I do not keep the rice soaked
  • 1 cup oil
  • 3-4 medium tomatoes, pureed
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 mild or spicy green chilies, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. fresh garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp. fresh ginger minced
  • 6 dried prunes
  • 1 cup full fat yogurt, whisked
  • 2 tbsp. tamarind paste (see notes)
  • Zest of 1 lemon and juice
  • 4 green cardamom
  • 4 brown cardamom
  • 1½ tsp. cumin seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 cloves
  • 1-2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tsp. heaping cumin powder
  • 2 tsp. heaping coriander powder
  • 2 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp. red chili powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp. Kashmiri chili powder or paprika powder
  • 1½ tsp. salt (adjust to taste)
  • ½ cup packed fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ½ cup packed fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 lemon sliced for presentation
  • Red/yellow food color mixed in little water separately. This is optional just for presentation
  • 1 cup plain yogurt, whisked
  • few tbsp. milk
  • ⅓ cup shredded cucumber
  • salt & black pepper to taste
  • Shred cucumber on a grater. Squeeze all water from the cucumber.
  • Add to whisked yogurt.
  • Add a few tbsp. of milk to yogurt to consistency you desire. Not to thick or thin
  1. In a large heavy bottom pot heat oil on medium high.
  2. Add onions. Sauté till light golden brown about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Add green chilies, whole spices, sauté for 2-3 minutes till onions get more golden.
  4. Add ginger/garlic, sauté for 30 seconds. Onions will have gotten nice golden brown color.
  5. Add chicken, let it sear for 5 minutes on high. This adds extra flavor.
  6. Add tomatoes, powder spices, yogurt, prunes & tamarind (you can add everything to the tomatoes to make it easier to mix) Mix well. Let it cook for 25-30 minutes on medium. You should not have to add any water. But if you feel like sauce is sticking and too thick before chicken is done you can add some water.
  7. Oil will separate and rise to top. Sauce should be thick not too watery. Add Zest of lemon and juice.
  8. RICE-minutes before chicken is done. Start on the rice.
  9. Rinse rice till water runs clear, about 4-5 times.
  10. In large pot bring 4quarts of water(16cups) to boil.
  11. Add 1 tbsp. salt to water
  12. Add rice, boil till done, about 10 minutes.
  13. Drain rice and place back in pot with lid covered till ready to layer.
  14. LAYERING-Have everything ready: the chicken, rice, garnish ingredients.
  15. Layer ½ of rice to a serving dish
  16. Drizzle with food colors if using any (don't add too much of color)
  17. Layer all the chicken pieces on top of the rice and half the sauce.
  18. Garnish with some chopped cilantro/mint.
  19. Layer rest of rice over chicken, drizzle with food color. Layer rest of sauce over the rice. Garnish with rest of cilantro/mint. Place lemon slices and squeeze some lemon juice all over. Enjoy!
Recipe by Cooking With Shazia at