Thalapakatti style biryani

You know you’ve reached the steady state when you make an online money transfer to your husband for his birthday present and he in turn checks out your Amazon cart for your birthday present. Win-win. No more guessing if the shirt will fit, no more aspirational “for your good, for us” gifts he never unwraps, no surprise awkward spa experience that makes him blush.

thalapakatti style biryani

Who would think of getting a Quad copter drone for a 33 year old’s birthday present? I wouldn’t. He wanted just that. We are now seasoned enough to appreciate that we don’t know each other’s areas of interest, that it is not necessary or easy to know and it is best to ask. I was the surprise junkie, going for the surprise factor, for difference, extrapolating from my head to his. Not anymore. Now, we discuss, I put forth my ideas, he rejects them all, I agree to buy what he decides, find that it doesn’t fit in my mental make-up (flying toy for $50!) and agree to transfer money instead to avoid the hassle. Cool!

thalapakatti style biryani

I still bake his birthday cake and I decide what to make. I cannot be making a sponge cake or chocolate cake. I have a blog to write for. I cannot be making reruns. I have my bucket list of cakes I want to make in life. Sorry!

But there is one thing that we both agree on, one thing we both love, that we’re both passionate about – biryani. I had to make one of his favourite biryanis for his birthday. After all it is his birthday. So Thalapakatti style biryani it was. It tastes much like Thalapakatti’s signature biryani – spicy, heady, aromatic, ghee laden seeraga samba rice biryani. No tomatoes in this biryani. The magic is in the ground spice paste. I went with 12 green chillies. It is hot but we like it that way. Feel free to reduce it to your taste. I marinated the chicken the previous night and ground up the masala too the previous night. I was making it on a weekday morning before school. I needed to pre-make as much as I could. That is all there is to it actually. This Thalapakatti style biryani is among the easiest I have made in recent times and I am going to be making it many more times. One more biryani crossed out from my biryani bucket list. 

We enjoyed the biryani. Jagan loved it. I loved that it tasted just as great but was nowhere as greasy. Hasini finished it in no time. Yuvi complained of heat but managed to eat it with 2 jugs of water. Common ground at last.

Prep time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins
Serves: 5-6

Ingredients – biryani

Seeraga Samba rice – 3-1/2 cups
Chicken – 700 gm any cut
Red chilli powder – 1-2 tbsp
Salt to taste
Oil – ¼ cup
Ghee – 4 tbsp
Water as necessary
Bay leaves/Biryani leaves – 2
Black cardamom – 1
Marathi moggu – 2 pieces
Pudina leaves – 1 cup loosely packed

Ingredients – Chicken Marinade

Yogurt – ½ cup
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Salt to taste

Ingredients – Biryani Masala

Shallots/Sambar vengayam  – 150 gm peeled (the easiest, fastest way to peel them is to drop them in a bowl of water and let sit for 15 minutes. Then lop off the top and bottom portions and then peel)
Green chillies – 10-12 stalks removed
Cloves – 4
Green Cardamom – 4
Cinnamon – 3 inch piece
Garlic – 1 head peeled
Ginger – 2 inch piece peeled and chopped roughly


1.       Clean chicken well. Pat dry. In a large bowl whisk together turmeric powder, salt and yogurt. Dump the chicken pieces in the yogurt marinade and use your finger to rub the marinade all over the chicken pieces. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

2.       Rinse and soak seeraga samba rice for about 20 minutes.

3.       Grind together all ingredients under biryani masala to a fine paste adding only as much water as necessary.

4.       Heat a large cooker/flat bottomed vessel. Add the oil and ghee. When the oil and ghee are hot, add the whole spices – bay leaves, Marathi moggu and black cardamom and wait till they turn fragrant.

5.       Pour in the ground masala paste and stir. Cook on medium low stirring every now and then for about 3 minutes or till it no longer smells raw.

6.       Add the marinated chicken pieces along with the marinade and stir to combine the chicken and the masala. Add red chilli powder and salt and mix well. Cover and cook on low till the oil separates and floats – about 15 minutes.

7.       Drain the soaking liquid and ladle the soaked rice into the chicken masala. Once all the rice is in, pour in the soaking water little at a time till your index finger inserted into the liquid hits the rice and the liquid level is between the first and second lines on your index finger.

8.       Taste the liquid and adjust seasoning. Mix well.

9.       Use a large flat plate to cover the cooker/biryani vessel. Turn heat to low. Place a large pan of boiling water on top of the plate. Cover the pan of boiling water. Leave this set-up to work its magic. In about 20 minutes, the aroma will beckon you. Switch off, open, fluff with a fork, cover again, replace the pan of boiling water on top to keep the biryani hot. Serve hot with raita and boiled eggs.


  1. Dolly says:

    Thankyou for this wonderful recipe.It was easy to make(simple instructions not too demanding) tasty and flavourful to eat. Very ideal for the average homemaker.

  2. Subashri says:

    Hey, tried the recipe – came out great. I am unsure when to put in the pudina however. I put it in while cooking the chicken. Is that right ?
    That’s for the lovely stories and simple recipes !

    • foodbetterbegood says:

      you could substitute with big onions. i have used big onions several times. should work just as well.

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