Turkey Biryani

turkey biryani

5 from 1 reviews


  • 2 1/2 cups uncooked basmati rice
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil, plus 2 tbsp
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 cups cooked turkey, bones removed
  • 2 serrano peppers, stems taken off (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced ginger
  • 3 cups plain yogurt (I use low-fat)
  • 5 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp garam masaala
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2-3 tsp chili powder (adjust to preference)
  • 2 tsp black cumin seeds
  • 3-4 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 8 cardamom pods
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 6-8 strands saffron threads, mixed with 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup water


  1. Rinse rice in a fine mesh strainer, with cold water. Soak the rice in a large bowl, with enough cold water to cover it for at least 30 minutes but no more than 2 hours.
  2. Heat 1/3 cup oil in a large pot on medium high heat. Add onions and fry until onions are golden brown, stirring to avoid burning or sticking to pot. Once onions are golden brown, 8-10 minutes, remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Add garlic and ginger to oil and stir fry until golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Be careful, the mixture will spatter! Add garam masala, 3 tsp salt, chili powder,and turmeric and stir for 30 seconds. Add yogurt and reduce heat to simmer. Add serrano pepper. Bring to a boil, stir occasionally, and cook until yogurt has reduced by half, about 8-10 minutes. Add turkey and coat turkey with yogurt mixture. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until turkey is heated. Remove from heat. Remove serrano peppers if desired.
  4. Wrap cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, bay leaves, and whole cloves in a cheesecloth, tying the knot tightly.
  5. In a large pot, add about 12 cups cold water, 2 tsp salt, the spice bundle in cheesecloth, and black cumin seeds. Bring to a boil. Strain soaked rice and add to boiling water. Bring to a boil for 5-8 minutes, until the rice is firm but tender, al dente. Strain immediately.
  6. Fill a heavy bottomed pot with half of the cooked rice. Layer with turkey and yogurt mixture. Top with fried onions and cilantro. Add remaining rice. Drizzle with remaining oil and saffron water and plain water. Place cheesecloth bundle on top.
  7. Cover with aluminum foil and pot lid. Cook on an extremely low flame for 35-40 minutes, until rice is tender.
  8. Serve with yogurt.