Biryani Rice

Requested by Mr Lim

Biryani rice is fairly popular in South East Asia not just in South India, even amongst non-Indians. Here is a home recipe from an Indian friend of ours. There can be some slight difference in terms of spices used in different recipes, as every family cooks it differently.


  • 5 cups basmati rice, rinsed
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 Bay leaves
  • 10 cardamom pods
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
  • 3 whole cardamom pods
  • 10 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon saffron
  • 1/2 cup organic raisins
  • 2 tablespoons Vegetable oil
  • 50g ghee (Or 3 tablespoons vegetable oil)


  1. In a large skillet, heat ghee (or vegetable oil) and quick-fry the onions till they are golden brown. Add in saffron, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon stick, raisins, turmeric, cumin seed, coriander seed, and cook till toasted and fragrant, stirring constantly.
  2. Add in rice and stir till the rice is completely coated with the oil and mixed well with the spices.
  3. Pour in the water and salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat for 20 minutes or till rice is tender, covered (wrap the lid tightly with a large kitchen towel or layered muslin cloth).
  4. Turn off the heat and let it stand for 10 minutes, covered. Fluff it with a fork and serve with curry of your choice.
  5. Serve 7-8 persons.

Versatility Note:

  1. Ghee is a specialty ingredient that makes Biryani rice tastes so good, besides saffron. But it can be quite fattening so you can use vegetable oil or vegetarian butter instead.
  2. To keep warm, cover the skillet full of rice (keep the lid wrapped in cloth) over boiling water in a wok. Just keep it under low heat. Alternatively, transfer the whole step 3 and onwards in Preparation, into a rice cooker. Once it's cooked, keep the mains turned on and it will stay warm all day.