Thalassery Biryani is quite dissimilar to other biryanis in India – unlike them, it is both sweet and savoury. The secret is the mild Malabar spices and the aromatic small grain rice called Kaima, to which are added generous amounts of sautéed cashew nuts, raisins and fennel.

  • Serves


  • Cook Time

    1h 30m


  • 1/2 kg Kaima rice
  • 1/2 kg chicken
  • 800 ml water
  • 4 tbsp refined oil
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp crushed ginger
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2.5 cups sliced onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomato
  • 15 cashew nuts, split
  • 15 raisins
  • 5 cardamoms
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 green chillies, slit
  • 2 mint stems
  • 2 coriander stems
  • 1 onion, sliced, for frying
  • 1-inch cinnamon stick
  • Salt to taste

For Garam Masala (to grind)

  • 5 cardamoms
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 1-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 piece mace
  • 1 tsp fennel


  1. Marinate chicken with a little turmeric, salt, lime juice for 30 minutes.
  2. Soak rice in water for 30 minutes, and drain.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp of oil and 1 tbsp of ghee in a pan. Toss in cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. Next add hot water, salt and bring to a boil.
  4. Drop the drained rice into the water and cook by absorption method for 15-20 minutes. Keep aside.
  5. In another pan, heat oil and fry cashew nuts along with raisins and keep aside. Also fry the single onion to golden brown and keep aside.
  6. Add 1 tbsp ghee to the pan with oil and sauté the onions and green chillies for 7-8 minutes, until the onions turn golden brown.
  7. Toss in ginger and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.
  8. Add the remaining turmeric powder, coriander powder and pepper powder and continue sautéing.
  9. Add chopped tomato and cook the masala for 6-7 minutes.
  10. Drop in the marinated chicken, coriander leaves, mint leaves and the ground garam masala. Cook chicken for 12-15 minutes in its own juice and masalas. Once done, keep aside.
  11. Take a thick-bottomed vessel and layer precooked rice and chicken masala.
  12. Top with fried cashew nuts and raisins.
  13. Cover the vessel with a tight lid and keep on a hot plate for 15 minutes.
  14. Serve hot with raita, pickle and pappadum.
Regi Mathew

Regi Mathew

Regi Mathew, co-owner and culinary director of Kappa Chakka Kandhari in Chennai and Bengaluru, is Scroll Food’s Chef of the Month for September. His culinary career, which began with the Taj Group of Hotels, has taken him to several countries, where he has learnt many cuisines. After 25 years in the F&B industry, he decided to closely explore the cuisine of his home state, Kerala. For three years, he travelled through the state, researching its food, and working with 265 housewives and 70 toddy shops, some of whom are now part of the restaurant’s kitchen. He has won several accolades in his career, including being adjudged the Chef of the Year at the Times Food Awards, Chennai, in 2018.

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