Saudi Biryani

Traditional biryanis are not as complex as people have made them to be today. They can be rather simple yet filled with exotic reminders. I took an Indian biryani and turned it into a Saudi biryani by changing out India’s flavor to the taste of kingdom by adding such things as shabaih leaves and kholengan. If all of the spices are not available where you live just skip them and if you do not have rice maggi you can substitute it for any bouillon cube.

1 large chicken, cut into 4 pieces
3-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
3 chili peppers, stems removed and slit lengthwise
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, grated
1/3 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (10-inch) piece dried kholengan
3 shabaih leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons rose water
pinch saffron
1/2 cup yogurt
2 cups rice, cleaned and soaked
1 rice white maggi cube
butter (about 1/4 stick) sliced
3 boiled eggs

1.In a 9-inch skillet on medium high heat add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add chicken and dust with salt and pepper. Allow to cook until golden brown all over. Set chicken aside. Leave chicken fat in pan.

2.In the same skillet on medium heat add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Add onion, garlic, chilies and ginger. Allow to cook until tender. Add salt, pepper, cumin, kholengan, shabaih, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon and bay leaves. Mix well, cook for 1 minute. Add yogurt, mix well. Add chicken back into pan coating with mixture. Cover and allow to cook on low-medium heat 20 minutes. In a small microwave safe bowl add 1 juice of lime and rose water. Add saffron and allow to sit until needed.

3.In a Saute-pan on high heat add 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and crushed rice maggi. Add rice and water to cover top of rice 1 inch. Cover and bring to a full boil, reduce heat to low and allow to cook 8 minutes never uncovering. Place half of of half cooked rice into a medium sized bowl. Half should remain on bottom of pan, level out. Add all of chicken mixture a top then add remaining rice on top of chicken. Add lime mixture all over top of rice. Add slices of butter all over top. Cover pan, raise heat to medium then reduce to low to steam for 20 minutes. Do not uncover pan. In a serving platter add rice, chicken and arrange slices eggs.

Yields: 4 servings

8 Responses to Saudi Biryani

  • NeverEver says:


    This is really similar to the way I make Biryani as well :-)

    I learned how to cook from Saudis :-P

  • steetoa says:

    Looks really delicious – I’m wondering, though, what kholengan
    and shabaih are? An could I buy that in the US or something to substitute? Thank you!

  • Sonia says:

    Assalam alaikum!

    Mmmm! Looks YUM and very easy! I don’t have neither kholengan or shabiah (sp?) .. but will try the recipe tomorrow.

  • Arlette says:

    This is delicious
    and i have all the ingredients to try your recipe…Never cooked Biryani before..

  • Noor says:

    Sorry for the late reply everyone blogger comments were not working for me all week :( ..

    To learn more about those spices go to the spice link under my banner and click on the spice name.

    Shabia leaves are also popular in India but they call them lichen which you may know. Kholengan is from Indonesia originally I guessing the maids brought it over and made it popular. Its in the ginger family and it looks just like dried ginger but the taste is kind if a licorice flavor. You can do fine without these two spices and I never saw them in the states only here in Saudi I think you can get them.

  • Sonia says:

    I tried the recipe last night and its very delicious!!!!! But my husband wouldn’t call it Biryani, he kept saying “Chicken Pulao” and I would correct him “Saudi Biryani” and he would counter that with “No, Chicken Pulao” =))

    It has mild flavors, and very easy to prepare. I tossed in 5 small potatoes for my little one, since she’s very fussy. Since I didn’t have those 2 very exotic spices on hand, I tossed in a star anise and couple of leaves of taragon just to give it some boost. Overall I think this recipe is a definite keeper, and something I would love to make again in the future inshAllah!.

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