Thalassery Biriyani – Chicken Dum Biryani

thalassery biriyani recipe

Thalassery Biriyani – Chicken Dum Biryani

  This post for Thalassery Biriyani has been  in my drafts for a long while now. I make it so often but shooting the photographs and video and getting it all together in the final cut for some reason took a looooong time.  I hope you will try this recipe and give me feedback. To my loyal readers and recipe testers. This one’s for you folks! Scroll down for the video.

Thalaserry, a Coastal Town in the Malabar Region of Kerala is home to the origination of many a mouth watering delicacy. The people love their food and love to serve even more.  Thalassery Biriyani is one of my favorites (I have tested a LOT of Biriyanis).

This Biriyani is made traditionally with a shorter grain rice known as ‘Kaima’. The scent offered by this variety of rice might be one of the key factors. When I can’t find ‘Kaima’ Rice also known as ‘Jeerakasala’ Rice however, good quality basmati can be used with the same great taste.

Unlike some Biriyani Rice preparations, the rice for Thalassery Biriyani is not cooked in excessive water and drained when 75 % cooked. It is cooked with ghee and spices with a specific amount of water till it is cooked but not overcooked. Then this rice is layered in the’DUM’ – Sealed method of cooking that allows no steam to escape during the cooking process.

Green Chillies is also an essential ingredient to this Biriyani. However the amount of green chillies can be reduced to suit your taste. Try out different varieties of green chillies to give the dish some notable difference each time.

thalassery biriyani recipe

Thalassery Biriyani – Chicken Dum Biryani

Recipe Type: Main / Rice / Chicken
Author: Recipes ‘R’ Simple
Prep time: 20
Cook time: 35 
Total time: 55
Serves: 6
thalassery biriyani - dum chicken biriyani

using basmati rice instead of kaima

Ingredients:  (please read through the entire recipe before you begin)

For the chicken masala

  • 1 kg chicken, skin removed – cut to medium large pieces.
  • 3 – 4 Tbsp dalda / vanaspati / vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups sliced onion
  • ½ cup garlic ( I recommend using the Indian small variety of garlic for this    Biryani – it makes a huge difference)
  • ½ cup fresh ginger chopped coarsely
  • 5 – 8 small green chillies, adjust according to heat preferance and de-seed if you want the heat to be be reduced but do not omit the chillies
  • ½ -¾ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 ½ generous Tbsp Special Thalassery Biriyani Masala powder (recipe follows) 
  • 1 tsp rock salt – rock salt is preferred
  • 2 large firm and ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • a handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • a handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp yoghurt
  • juice of one small yellow lime – about 1 Tbsp
  • 2 Tbsp ghee  (clarified butter)
  • 2 Tbsp thick coconut cream
  • ½ quantity of the ‘bista’ Fried Onions – see method for garnish

For the rice:

  • 4 cups Kaima Rice (Jeerakasala Rice)
  •  6 ¼ cups water
  • 3 – 4 Tbsp ghee
  • 3 small sticks of cinamon
  • 12 cloves
  • 6 cardamom pods – bruised
  • 1 small piece of star anise
  • a pinch of fennel seeds
  • 3 tsp salt – you can use rock salt or table salt

For Special Thalassery Biriyani Masala Powder:

  • 3 cloves
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds / aniseed / saunf
  • 1 tsp black pepper corns
  • ¼ tsp cumin / jeera
  • ¼ tsp caraway seeds / shahi jeera / persian cumin
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg / jayphal
  • ¼ tsp mace / javaitri
  • 2 small cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp kasa kasa / poppy seeds
  •  2 mild dried red chillies, seeds removed
  • a small piece ( a petal) of star anise / chakraphool / thakolam

For the garnish:

  • 1  cup oil or ghee for frying the onions.
  • 2 cups very finely sliced onion
  • large handful of cashew nuts
  • handful of golden raisins
  • fresh coriander

For the ‘DUM’:

  • ¼ cup good quality rose water
  • ¹/8 tsp turmeric
  •   handful of fresh coriander leaves
  • a sprinkling of the special Thalassery Biriyani masala powder which is left left over after adding to the masala.
  • a little ghee.
  • You will need to make a dough of 1- 2 cups of wheat flour mixed with water to make a soft pliable dough to seal the lid of the pot.


For the chicken masala:

  • Clean and rinse the chicken pieces. Rub with salt. Rinse again and keep drained.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the fried garnish as well as the Special Biriyani Masala Powder. Also chop and sliced the fresh ingredients needed.
  • Crush the ginger, garlic and green chillies to a paste using a pestle and mortar for best results.
  • Slice onions and chop tomatoes.
  • In a heavy bottomed vessel or cooker, add the dalda.
  • Heat on medium hight till melted.
  • Add the sliced onions and saute while stirring on high heat till softened.
  • Next add the crushed paste of ginger, garlic and green chillies.
  • Saute till the ginger and garlic no longer emit  their raw smell.
  • Add the drained chicken pieces and toss well on high heat to coat the chicken pieces well with the sauteed ingredients.
  • Once the chicken has turned white (no longer pink) and is thoroughly coated, add turmeric and the special Thalassery Biriyani masala powder (1 ½ generous Tbsp of the ground spice – not all of it) .
  • Toss well to distribute evenly.
  • Also add the rock salt and the chopped tomatoes. Stir and cook briefly.
  • Add the fresh mint and coriander leaves now, followed by the yoghurt and mix till the yoghurt disappears into the mixture.
  • Pour the lime juice over the masala.
  • When the masala is simmering, cover and cook on low heat for 10 minutes.
  • Open and add the ghee over the chicken masala. Stir gently.
  • Cover again and cook on low for 5 more minutes.The gravy should be starting to thicken and the chicken should be tender.
  • Gently remove the pieces of chicken from the gravy using tongs and place on a tray.
  • Reduce the remaining  gravy by simmering till thickened, stirring continuously so that NO BURNING occurs.
  • When the gravy looks right add the coconut cream and stir.
  • Return the chicken pieces and coat once more in the thickened gravy to get a wonderful coating on the chicken.
  • Turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  • When cooled down, take half the fried onions (BISTA) and crush them with your hands to form a powdery texture. Add this to the masala as well and stir to mix in.

For the RICE:

  • Before you start cooking the chicken masala : Rinse the Biryani Rice once. Drain. Add a good spoonful of salt and rub into the rice. Scrub the grains gently but thoroughly. Rinse again thoroughly 3-5 times till the water runs clear. Keep drained for a while.
  • While the Chicken Masala is being cooked, we can start preparing the rice.
  • Bring the water to boil in a pot with a tight lid.
  • Add the ghee. Stir.
  • Add the drained rice and stir.
  • Bring back to a boil and add the whole spices  and salt.
  • Cook covered on low with a tight lid, opening and stirring occasionally from the bottom.
  • Cook till the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked.
  • Fluff up the rice with a fork.

For the fried garnish:

  • Heat oil or ghee for frying the finely sliced onions in a small  mouthed wok.
  • When hot, add the finely sliced onions  and fry for around 8 minutes, stirring occasionally so that the slices stay separate. It may seem at first that the onions take some time to change color, but as soon as they start changing color, they will burn quickly so keep a close watch.
  • Drain in and keep aside in a metal spider strainer. This is better than using kitchen paper towel to keep the onions crisp.
  • These fried onions are called Bista. Use half of this fried onion to make the   ‘crushed BISTA’ – see method for masala.
  • In the same oil, fry the cashews till golden  and golden raisins till puffed. drain and set aside.

For the fried Special Thalassery Biriyani Masala Powder:

  • Add all the whole spices except the kasa kasa, dried red chilli and star anise to a small dry pan. Toast on medium heat, stirring till the spices smell aromatic and are crackling well.
  • At this stage add the kasa kasa and stir, followed by the dried chillies and star anise. When these smell toasted as well, remove from heat.
  • Grind the toasted spices in a small mixer jar to a powder. Set aside.
  • Note that  a little powder might be left over after adding to the masala and sprinkling over the dum. Use the next time you make Nadan Chicken Curry.

On to the ‘DUM’ – sealed cooking method:

Now we will cook the chicken masala and the rice together in a sealed, steaming environment.

  • You need a pot, large enough to hold both the rice and masala and enough room for some steam to develop as well.
  • Mix the rose water with the turmeric and set aside.
  • Grease the bottom and sides very lightly with ghee.
  • Add the chicken masala first, separating gently the chicken pieces away from the sides of the pot and towards the centre. ( we need this space to scoop out the chicken masala later without breaking up the pieces.)
  • Add ¾ of the the fluffed up rice over the masala, making sure the rice is thoroughly fluffed up to begin with ( no lumps ). See Notes.
  • Gently press / pat the surface of the rice layer.
  • Drizzle over some ghee, and ¾ of the rosewater solution.
  • Sprinkle some chopped coriander and some of the biriyani masala powder.
  • Top with the remaining rice (reserving a little to be sprinkled over each plating later – optional), drizzle ghee, remaining rosewater solution. Add some chopped coriander and fried onion, raisins and cashews.
  • Mould the kneaded wheat flour dough into a thick rope. Press all around the rim of the pot and quickly press down with the lid to seal. make sure there are no gaps where dough does not seal the thin gap between the pot and lid.
  • Place the pot over an old flat pan/ tawa on a medium flame and cook on this indirect heat for 10-15 minutes.
  • Allow to rest for 10 minutes and later cut open through the hardened dough and open the lid.
  • Fluff up the rice on top without touching the chicken masala.
  • Remove the rice to another wide mouthed pot / urulli and scoop out the chicken masala and place n the side of the rice.
  • For each plate, serve with masala and rice to desired proportions and sprinkle some of the reserved rice over the top to give a more appealing lighter finish.
  • Serve with salad and pickle. Enjoy!
  • Do let us know if you tried it. We love to hear from you.

Thalassery Biriyani – Chicken Dum Biryani

Try it and let us know – Thalassery Biriyani – Chicken Dum Biryani .

  • Rose water is available at most indian grocery stores (do not confuse with rose extract or essence)
  • For the fried onion garnish, very thinly sliced onions must be used. It is advisable to use a mandolin slicer.
  • Sliced shallots can also be fried for the garnish.
  • The fresh herbs used in the biryani(mint and coriander) must be exceptionally fresh – especially mint – if your mint is not really fresh omit it. Using wilted mint will ruin the biryani.
  • If we were to double or triple this recipe,  the layering of the dum should be in several layers. ie. a layer of masala, followed by a layer of rice and repeat 2 or 3 times. For the quantity in this recipe, multiple layers is not required. However, it is good to layer some spice, coriander, ghee and rosewater solution  in between first and second layers of the rice.
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Chicken Roasted with Mild Chilly Powder- Kerala Kozhi Roast

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About Shana Shameer

Love Cooking and discovering the very Best recipes out there.

20 thoughts on “Thalassery Biriyani – Chicken Dum Biryani

  1. Wow! Loved the video. Made it and it was the yummiest!! Thanks so much for this Blog.. I am a Huge fan of your recipes. Hope to see some crab roast recipe soon :)

  2. WARNING: Attempt this biriyani only if you want to savour something out of this world! Growing up in Kozhikode with cousins in Thalasherry, it was a place I went to frequently. Having lived in the US for over 45 years, I was looking for a good biriyani recipe and I came upon this one and was attracted to it because of where it came from! The recipe reads like Mahabharata, but not to worry. Though lengthy, it is very precise and easy and if you adhere to it, the result will be absolute glory!

  3. Very authentic recipe of Thalasseri biriyani…I have tried it a couple of times..It’s really good ……..I trust your recipes now and bookmarked your website,and keep referring it….Thank you so much…

    • Hi:). I am thrilled that you got good results👍we happen to love this Biryani! I hv a simpler version that always turns out well too I plan to feature that one in my e book .. Look out for that.. Thank you for your support. I try to test out the recipes more than 2times to give accurate results. Its comforting to know that they are helping someone somewhere.. Thank you.

  4. Pingback: The Interesting Story of Biryani in India

  5. Tried this out and it came out really well. Although the recipe is a bit long, the level of detail is excellent. I reduced the quantity of ginger and garlic. 1 cup of ginger-garlic paste seemed a bit too much. Might also add that the preparation/cooking time would be slightly on the longer side. That being said, this is one great recipe…thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you.. Glad it turned out to your liking. Its 1/2 cup each of finely chopped ginger and garlic not a paste. And id never think of cutting down on that quantity lol because we love more garlic in there! I will take a look at the timing but must admit.. You do get faster wt it with practice;) hv a great day!

  6. Hello Shana! I prepared your Thalassery biriyani using mutton. Instead of turmeric with rose water, i mixed a little saffron in parts of the rice and sprinkled rosewater in the rice during layering. Because I love the smell and taste of saffron. I followed the rest of your recipe as is. The biriyani turned out amazing. Thank you Shana. Will try out more of your recipes.

    • Dear Aruna,
      Thank you for coming back and leaving your valuable comment. I add saffron occasionally too. So happy you enjoyed it . Do Send me a picture next time:). Thank you for visiting and hope you will come again.

  7. Pingback: The Story of Biryani: How This Exotic Dish Came, Saw and Conquered India! – Center for Pluralism

  8. Hi Shana,

    First of all, a big THANKYOU for sharing this well-explained-detailed recipe.i can blindly say that this recipe is the best ever!!!
    It all started with my husbands urge for having biriyani on a fine FRIDAY(biriyani day :p). i always follow my mums recipe, who is a master in thalaseery biriyani. But then this time i thought to give a try for youtube waala recipe. And then your video came up.I did not think twice and started the preparations.
    Each time, i add in the ingredients, the flavour and smell was irresistble. Biriyani masala (cascas was not added) was the show stopper!!!!And finally when the biriyani was put for Dum, i couldnt stop myself from the smell.
    After Friday prayer, he came home and when the biriyani was served to him, he looked at me and said “Did you buy this from Calicut Paragon”. This should be the best compliment !!! :). Same time, he called my mum and said “your daughter is also now a master, any doubt in biriyanii, you can check with her” :p
    Thanks alot for the wonderful recipe.Will defenitely try again and again!!!

    Shakira Jamal

    • Oh my dear, so sweet of you to share your friday Biriyani day story with me :) I am sure your ‘special touch’ contributed to the success of the dish too. Such a compliment :) I share in your joy. We have biryani day at my place too! Thank you for your kind comment!

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