Apricot chicken biryani

Make use of the spices in the back of your cupboard with this flavour-packed biryani. The authentic Indian flavours burst through the rice so beautifully, and the juicy pop of apricot is just delicious!

  • 40 mins preparation plus overnight marinating
  • 50 mins cooking
  • Serves 4 - 6
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  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 150 ml vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp each black peppercorns, cumin seeds and coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp each ground turmeric and ground chilli
  • 1/4 tsp each ground cloves, ground cinnamon and finely grated nutmeg
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 500 ml thick natural yoghurt
  • 1/2 cup each finely chopped mint and coriander, plus leaves to serve
  • 1 1/2 tbsp finely grated ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 2 long green chillies, thinly sliced, plus extra to serve
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 4 chicken Marylands (thigh with drumsticks attached), halved through the joint
  • 40 g dried apricots, softened in hot water for 15 minutes, drained
  • 6 fresh, slightly underripe apricots, halved, plus extra wedges (optional), to serve
  • 400 g basmati rice
  • 50 g butter, diced
  • 90 ml milk
  • 1/4 tsp saffron threads
  • fried onion or fried shallots, chopped pistachio nuts and lime cheeks, to serve


  • 1
    Fry onion in 120ml oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a bowl and cool. Dry-roast spices and bay leaf over medium heat, then pound to a fine powder with a mortar and pestle. Add to onion along with yoghurt, herbs, ginger, garlic, chilli and sea salt and mix well. Add chicken, stir to coat, cover and refrigerate overnight to marinate.
  • 2
    Spread chicken mixture in a heavy-based casserole with a tight-fitting lid and tuck dried and fresh apricots in between chicken pieces. Combine rice, 20g butter and remaining oil in a saucepan and add enough water to cover by 2cm; season generously and bring to the boil. Drain and spread rice over chicken.
  • 3
    Bring milk, saffron and remaining butter to a simmer in a saucepan, then pour the mixture over rice, cover casserole with foil, then place the lid on. Cook over low heat for 50 minutes, then, without uncovering, stand for 15 minutes. Serve hot scattered with extra apricot wedges, if using, mint and coriander leaves and green chilli, and fried onion, pistachio nuts and lime cheeks.

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