How to Make Biryani with Leftover Chicken Curry

If you have leftover chicken curry and want to turn it into a delicious and satisfying meal, biryani is the perfect solution. Biryani is a fragrant and flavorful rice dish that is popular across South Asia, known for its aromatic spices and tender meat. With a few additional ingredients, you can transform your leftover chicken curry into a mouthwatering biryani. Here’s a simple guide to making biryani with leftover chicken curry:

Ingredients for Leftover Chicken Curry Biryani

  • Leftover chicken curry (enough for the desired number of servings)
  • Basmati rice, washed and soaked for 30 minutes
  • Whole spices (bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, cloves)
  • Onions, thinly sliced
  • Tomatoes, chopped
  • Ginger-garlic paste
  • Yogurt
  • Fresh cilantro (coriander) leaves, chopped
  • Fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • Ghee or vegetable oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional: Saffron strands soaked in warm milk for garnish

Step-by-Step Guide to Making Leftover Chicken Curry Biryani

Step 1: Prepare the Rice
  1. Wash and Soak the Rice: Rinse the basmati rice under cold water until the water runs clear. Then, soak the rice in water for 30 minutes. This helps the rice cook evenly and prevents it from sticking together.
  2. Parboil the Rice: In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add the soaked rice along with some salt and cook until the rice is partially cooked, about 70-80% done. Drain the rice and set aside.
Step 2: Prepare the Ingredients
  1. Sauté Onions and Whole Spices: In a separate pan, heat ghee or oil over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and whole spices (bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, cloves) and sauté until the onions turn golden brown and the spices become fragrant.
  2. Add Ginger-Garlic Paste: Add ginger-garlic paste to the onions and sauté for a minute until the raw smell disappears.
  3. Mix in Tomatoes and Leftover Chicken Curry: Add chopped tomatoes to the pan and cook until they soften. Then, add the leftover chicken curry to the pan and mix well with the onion-tomato mixture. Allow the curry to simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors.
Step 3: Layering the Biryani
  1. Layer the Rice and Curry: In a separate deep-bottomed pot or biryani pot, spread a layer of partially cooked rice at the bottom. Top it with a layer of the chicken curry mixture. Repeat the layers until all the rice and curry are used up, ending with a layer of rice on top.
  2. Sprinkle Herbs and Yogurt: Sprinkle chopped cilantro and mint leaves over the top layer of rice. Drizzle yogurt evenly over the rice to add moisture and flavor.
Step 4: Dum Cooking (Steam Cooking)
  1. Seal the Pot: Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid or aluminum foil to seal in the steam. You can also place a heavy object on top of the lid to ensure a tight seal.
  2. Cook on Low Heat: Reduce the heat to low and let the biryani cook on dum (steam) for 15-20 minutes. This allows the flavors to meld together and the rice to absorb the aromatic steam from the curry.
Step 5: Serve and Enjoy
  1. Fluff the Biryani: Once the biryani is done cooking, remove it from the heat and let it rest for a few minutes. Then, carefully fluff the rice with a fork to mix the layers together.
  2. Garnish and Serve: Garnish the biryani with saffron-soaked milk for an extra touch of color and flavor. Serve hot with raita (yogurt dip) or salad on the side.

Tips for Making Leftover Chicken Curry Biryani

  1. Choose the Right Rice: Use long-grain basmati rice for biryani, as it cooks up fluffy and aromatic.
  2. Layering is Key: Layering the rice and curry ensures that the flavors are distributed evenly throughout the biryani.
  3. Don’t Overcook the Rice: Parboil the rice until it’s partially cooked before layering it with the chicken curry. This prevents the rice from becoming mushy during the dum cooking process.
  4. Seal the Pot Properly: Ensuring a tight seal on the pot is essential for the dum cooking method, as it traps the steam and allows the flavors to infuse into the rice.
  5. Customize to Taste: Feel free to adjust the spices and seasonings according to your taste preferences. You can also add nuts, raisins, or fried onions for additional flavor and texture.


Transforming leftover chicken curry into biryani is a fantastic way to breathe new life into a familiar dish. With the aromatic spices, fluffy rice, and tender chicken, this biryani is sure to impress your taste buds and make for a satisfying meal. Follow these simple steps, and you’ll have a flavorful and comforting biryani ready to enjoy in no time.

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