Nasi Biryani


“Biryani Rice”, or ‘Nasi Biryani’ as it’s known in Malaysia, is a culinary masterpiece that reflects the rich tapestry of flavours and cultural diversity that defines Malaysian cuisine. This dish, with roots in South Asian cuisine, has found a special place in the hearts and kitchens of Malaysia, offering a unique fusion of aromatic spices and local ingredients.

Originating from India, Biryani has a history that dates back centuries. It was brought to Malaysia through the Indian diaspora, and over time, it has evolved into a beloved Malaysian classic. Today, it’s a testament to the harmonious blending of cultures that Malaysia is known for.

How to Make Nasi Biryani

Prep Time
90 minutes

Cook Time
60 minutes



Ingredients for Grinding
3 tomatoes
8 to 10 green bird’s eye chillies
8 cloves garlic
2 inches ginger

Ingredients for Chicken Marinade
3 skinless whole chicken legs, separate thighs and drumsticks
4 tbsp plain yogourt
2 tbsp garlic ginger paste
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp turmeric powder
3 tbsp biryani paste or spice mix

Ingredients for Rice
2 cups Basmati rice
4 litres water
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anises
4 cloves
4 cardamom pods
1 bay leaf
½ tsp salt

Ingredients for Frying
A handful of cashew nuts
8 to 10 shallots, sliced
2 potatoes, cut into quarters

Ingredients for Chicken
1 tbsp ghee
½ cup cooking oil
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anises
4 cloves
4 cardamom pods
1 bay leaf
1 yellow onion, sliced
A handful of raisins

Other Ingredients
A handful of coriander, chopped
A handful of mint leaves, chopped
1 lemon, sliced


Grind Ingredients

  1. Grind tomatoes to a smooth paste. Set aside.
  2. Grind green bird’s eye chillies with 100 ml of water to a smooth paste. Set aside.
  3. Grind garlic and ginger with 100 ml of water to a smooth paste. Set aside.

Marinate Chicken

  1. Mix together yogurt, garlic and ginger paste, salt, black pepper, turmeric powder and biryani paste.
  2. Add chicken and mix well.
  3. Marinate chicken for 30 minutes.

Soak Rice

  1. Rinse rice until the water runs clear.
  2. In a big pot or bowl, add rinsed rice and water until all the rice is fully submerged.
  3. Soak rice for 30 minutes.


  1. In a cold pot, add cooking oil.
  2. Turn heat to medium-low.
  3. Add cashew nuts. Fry until golden brown. Set aside.
  4. Add shallots. Fry until golden brown. Set aside.
  5. Add potatoes. Fry until all sides are crusty. Set aside.

Cook Chicken

  1. Using the same oil, add ghee, cinnamon stick, star anises, cloves, cardamom pods, bay leaf and yellow onion. Stir-fry until the onion turns soft.
  2. Add chicken. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes on one side. Flip the chicken.
  3. Add tomato paste, green chilli paste, and salt and sugar to taste. Stir and mix well.
  4. Add fried potatoes, raisins and a handful of fried shallots.
  5. Continue to cook until oil separates. Set aside.

Cook Rice

  1. In a pot, add water, cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves, cardamom pods, bay leaf, salt and soaked rice. Stir and mix well.
  2. Turn heat to medium. Simmer until the rice is about 70% cooked. The rice should be just soft enough to break through with a fingernail.
  3. [Be careful] Drain all the water.


  1. Using the same pot used to cook the chicken, evenly spread ⅓ of the rice at the bottom of the pot.
  2. Spread 3 pieces of chicken (and some sauces), some potatoes and raisins on top of the rice. Top with some coriander, mint leaves and 3 to 4 lemon slices.
  3. Repeat steps one and two once.
  4. Top with the remaining ⅓ of rice, coriander, mint leaves, lemon slices, and the remaining fried shallots.
  5. Create a few “pores” and spread some red food colouring.
  6. Using the “Dum Cooking” method, cover the pot with a big cloth, place the lid over the cloth, tie the edges of the cloth to the lid handle and let simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.
  7. Turn off the heat and let rest for another 20 minutes. DO NOT OPEN the cover.


  1. Before serving, add fried cashew nuts and gently fluff the rice.
  2. Place a generous portion of the rice on one side of the serving platter or plate. On the other side, add the chicken, potatoes and other ingredients.
  3. Ensure an even distribution of chicken and rice for each serving.
  4. Enjoy!