Kolkata special chicken biryani – a Bengali style biryani recipe with chicken

Today I’m going to make one of the most delectable recipes of Kolkata special chicken biryani a Bengali style Murg(murgh) biryani recipe with step-by-step pictures. In one word, Kolkata biryani is the most flavourful Indian style biryani that comes with long grain basmati rice, soft & juicy meat(murg or gosht), aloo, and a distinct flavor created by the mixed punch of mughlai mitha attar-kewra essence-rose water-saffron-ghee, & special Bengali biryani masala. Mostly served with chicken chaap, mutton chaap, and chicken rezala in restaurants of Calcutta.

a full plate of Kolkata style special bengali chicken biryani with aloo, dim siddho & garnished with onion rings a full plate of Kolkata style special bengali chicken biryani with aloo, dim siddho & garnished with onion rings

As per history, Biryani is basically originated in shahi Muslim Gharana and almost famous all over the world. Especially to every country that came in touch with the Muslim emperor created their own style biryani with their own spices and flavors, right? Though Biryani is hard to describe in one word but in a simple manner when rice and meat are cooked together in a dum pukht method with a perfect ratio of ghee, garam masala, and a little flavor and color of saffron called “Biryani”.Though our Kolkata biryani is also a dum pukht biryani however totally different from other biryanis for its distinct color and a combined flavor of spices with essence.

“Biryani” the name itself makes me crazy even increases my hunger ten times, what about you? Do you feel the same as mine? In India, biryani is mainly popular and classified according to the style of different royal cuisines, like, Mughals, Nizams, and Nawabs and most of the Indian states follow that same style and flavor while making this recipe. However, few Indian states prepared their own style of biryani. And true biryani lovers always happily accept all of these varieties to satisfy their cravings.

Today I’ll prepare my favorite Kolkata-style chicken biryani recipe, the ultimate satisfying dish for almost all Bengali. But while talking about Kolkata biryani, it would be unfair if I don’t mention its origin. Though I guess, most of us are aware of the history of Kolkata biryani, then also I should present a little introduction about this delicious food. Originally our Bengali biryani comes from the royal kitchen of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, the last king of Lucknow who was forced to leave his kingdom by the British. That time, due to circumstances the king reached Calcutta(the old name of Kolkata) with his closed associates and lived in the Metiabruz-Garden reach area till his last breath. During that time all the delicacies of their royal cuisine including biryani slowly reached Bengalis palate through the Awadhi or Lucknowi cooks and their eateries.

This way Kolkata was first introduced with this exotic dish “Biryani”. As we Bengalis are always great admirers of good food so we easily welcomed this dish. As all know, Bengalis are a great fan of aloo and most of our vegetables couldn’t make without it. So after seeing Bengalis’ immense love for potatoes, Awadhi cooks started making their biryani with aloo to attract more Bengali customers. Though in traditional Lucknow or Awadhi biryani, there is no use of aloo or potatoes. In spite of being the same taste and flavor as Awadh biryani, our Calcutta biryani aka Kolkata biryani got a completely different identity for making it with aloo. When the potato is added to this recipe it’s easily enlisted in our Bengali cuisine forever. 

This Kolkata-style biryani is pure bliss to almost all Bengali people. Our Kolkata biryani is popular for its combined flavor of kewra water, mitha attar, ghee, garam masala, a piece of butter-soft potato(must in bengali biryani recipe), and juicy succulent meat(chicken/mutton) which makes it different from others. Not only for its flavor even mixed of the milky white and jaffrani yellow textured long rice grains attract me more.

kolkata restaurant style full plate of bengali chicken biryani aka kolkata murgh biryani is served with butter soft potato, hard boiled egg, sliced onion and a bowl of bengali chicken kosha or kosha murgir mangsho

As I’m Bengali and of course from Kolkata so since my college days I’m a huge fan of Kolkata biryani basically it drives me crazy like other Bengalis. Even on those Kolkata days, I have tasted many biryani recipes from almost all popular restaurants of Kolkata like Aminia, Arsalan, Regent, Rahmania, Shiraz, and many more. But after coming to Bangalore I was disappointed to taste all South Indian style biryanis. Though that was not bad, I really started missing my Kolkata biryanis.

Those days Koramangala was the only stop for all Bengali foods in Bangalore and it was far away from my house. However, my love for Kolkata biryani took me to Lazeez and Alishan many times as those days these Bengali restaurants used to make the best Kolkata style chicken or mutton biryani recipe in Bangalore. But later I decided to make it at home to satisfy my craving at any time. Though still, I bring biryani if visit Koramangala but these days I love Zeeshan for its less oily biryani.

Even when I started making Kolkata biryani at home, I always brought the biryani masala and mitha attar from Kolkata. Though now all the Bengali biryani masala is easily available in Bangalore. Several times I made it by using different recipes and all the time I was not satisfied with its taste and flavor. Then I started making this recipe in my way by increasing and decreasing its ingredients. I have seen many failures with this trial-and-error method but never gave up until I got the exact taste. It took years to get that authentic kolkata restaurant-style taste in my biryani.

Now my husband says I can make the best bengali biryani and the taste of my homemade chicken biryani is close to Kolkata’s arsalan style biryani recipe. And that’s the best compliment I ever got from him as he is the biggest critic of my cooking. Though he gives me real feedback all the time.

To celebrate any special day, like our birthdays to anniversary I must prepare this Kolkata style biryani at home and it is quite popular in my family and among Bengali friends too. That’s the only reason to share it with you all. I hope, you’ll love it too.

Though our Kolkata biryani is itself so delicious and doesn’t need any accompaniment apart from salad or raita. You may try my other chicken and mutton gravy recipes from my website which Bengali people generally order from the restaurant’s menu with our Kolkata style Biryani like, Chicken Chaap, Chicken Rezala, Chicken Kosha, and Mutton Kosha recipe. 

Even you may try my Kolkata style mutton biryani recipe and even my Bengali flavored ilish or hilsa biryani too, which is perfect for monsoon.

Try this Kolkata restaurant-style chicken biryani at home and write down your valuable feedback about this recipe in the comment section below.

Kolkata special chicken biryani – a Bengali style biryani recipe with chicken

Prep time: 2 hr

Cooking time: 30 mins

Served in: 2 hrs 30 mins

Served for: 6 people

Course: Lunch or Dinner

Cuisine: Bengali

Author: Moumita Paul

Ingredients of kolkata chicken biryani

1 cup = 250 ml

  • 1 kg Basmati rice or long grain dehradun rice
  • 1 kg 200 g chicken or murg(skinless biryani cut pieces)
  • 4 medium potatoes/aloo(cut into halves)
  • 3 medium to large onions(julienne cut)
  • 2 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp ginger paste
  • 1/2 lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup tok doi or curd or yogurt
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • 3 1/2 tsp biryani masala
  • 3 drops of rose essence 
  • 1 1/2 tsp kewra water
  • 8-9 drops mitha attar
  • 1 pinch of saffron strand
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 2-3 inch cinnamon stick
  • 8-10 cloves
  • 10 green cardamom or elaichi 
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 10-12  tbsp of ghee
  • 1/2 cup of refined oil
  • salt(as required)
  • 6-7 hard-boiled eggs(optional)
  • 50 gms bay leaves(for spreading on the bottom)

Ingredients for Bengali Biryani masala

  • 1 tsp shah jeera
  • 1 tsp white peppercorn
  • 25 green cardamom or elaichi
  • 1 1/2 mace or javitri
  • 1 1/2 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 nutmeg or jaifal
  • 1 tsp kabab chini or allspice
  • 5 cloves

How to make Kolkata style special chicken biryani with step by step pictures


Prepararation of kolkata biryani

  • First, take the medium to large size potatoes or aloo, wash, peel, out, cut into halves or four into pieces according to their size and put them in a pressure cooker.
aloo or potatoes cut into halves and put into pressure cooker for boiling and make it soft
  • Add 4-5 cups of water,  add 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of turmeric powder to it.
adding salt + turmeric powder for boiling potatoes in pressure cooker
  • Then place the cooker on high flame and after  2 whistles turn off the heat.
boiling the potatoes in pressure cooker
  • Let the pressure release automatically, then take out the potatoes in a plate and let it be completely cool down. Once the potatoes completely cool down then heat a pan with 1/2 cup of ghee and half cup of oil on medium flame. Then fry the potatoes until it gets golden brown in colour.
golden fried potatoes for Bengali special biryani

In the meantime, take the same pan used for frying potatoes, use to fry onions for making beresta or barista(or you may check my mutton seekh kabab recipe or mutton kofta curry recipe to know how to make beresta or barista.

How to make bengali biryani masala

  • First, take a pan with 1 tsp of shahi jeera +1 tsp white peppercorn(shah morich)+25 green cardamom (or elaichi or elach) +1 & 1/2 mace (or javitri or joitri) +1 &1/2 inch cinnamon stick +1/4 nutmeg or Jaifal +1 tsp kabab chini or allspice +5 cloves and dry roast in a low flame. 
whole spices 1 tsp of shahi jeera +1 tsp white peppercorn(shah morich)+25 green cardamom (or elaichi or elach) +1 1/2 mace (or javitri or joitri) +1 1/2 inch cinnamon stick +1/4 nutmeg or Jaifal +1 tsp kabab chini or allspice +5 cloves for Bengali biryani masala
  • When the aroma starts to come out from the spices then turn off the heat. Cool it down and then ground all spices by using a grinder to make a powdered form of it. As shown in the below pic. Get the biryani masala ready to use in this Kolkata-style biryani recipe.
homemade Bengali biryani masala powder

How to prepare chicken

Take the chicken pieces(require biryani cut chicken pieces) in a bowl, clean them, and wash them properly. For making biryani I always choose to keep the pieces a little big in size, as I generally request the chicken vendor to cut a whole chicken( medium size) into 4-6 pieces. Though you may choose the medium size pieces too. 

  • First, take a bowl with 1/2 cup of curd or tok doi, then add 1 tsp of kashmiri chilli powder and and 1/2 tsp of salt. Beat it well together.
curd or tok doi with kashmiri red chilli powder and salt
  • Once the beating is over then add the chicken pieces, 2 tsp go garlic paste, 1 1/2 tsp ginger paste and mix it well together.
chicken pieces with curd+kashmiri chilli powder+salt mix with ginger+garlic paste
  • Then add 1 1/2 tsp of powdered biryani masala(prepared earlier) and mixed it nicely with the chicken.
powdered Bengali biryani masala is added to the chicken
  • Now squeeze 1/2 lemon(medium size) to mix its juice for marinating the chicken pieces.
squeezing the half lemon over the chicken
  • Lastly, add a handful of beresta or birista and mix it together. Now marinate chicken or murg for at least 45 mins to 1 hour.
beresta is added to the chicken for marination
  • After 45 mins to 1 hr, take the same pan for making barista, place it on medium flame, then put the marinated chicken to the pan. Let it cook
cooking chicken for Kolkata biryani
  • After 1-2 mins turn down the pieces and cook it for 10 mins by covering the pan with a lid.
after turn down the chicken pieces
  • Again turn the chicken pieces and cook it for the next 8-10 mins, but don’t cover it then. I don’t add water to it, but you may add a little if you wish to.
after turned down the cooked chicken pieces
  • Turn off the heat when the gravy of this chicken will be mostly dry up as shown in the pic.
chicken is ready with its thick gravy

How to make the rice for biryani

Rice is an important ingredient for biryani, so choosing the best rice and its perfect preparation is most for this recipe. First, choose superfine-scented long basmati rice or long grain Dehradun rice.

  • Take the rice, wash it gently for 5-6 times and then soak it up for at least 30 mins.
soaking basmati rice /dehradun rice in ample water the most important task for making biryani
  • After 30 mins, take a big vessel with its 3/4 of water, place it on high flame. Add 1 1/2 tsp of salt+ 2 tsp of refined oil + 5 bay leaves +10 green cardamoms+ 8-10 cloves + 2-3 inches cinnamon sticks(break into 3-4 pieces). Let the water boil.
water is in big vessel with lots of whole garam masala and bay leaves
  • When the water starts boiling then strain the soaked rice and add it to the water. Let the rice boil in water.
making the rice perfectly for Kolkata style biryani
  • While cooking the rice must check it frequently as rice can not be cooked more than 80% or 80 percent as shown in the picture. Then turn off the heat and immediately drain the starch from the rice.
80% cooked rice
  • Then you may spread the rice in some plates and completely cool it down. This procedure will prevent the rice from overcooking. Once the rice totally cools down then keep it aside. 
rice is spread in a plate to completely cool down

Making of saffron milk

This saffron-flavored milk is a must-required ingredient for making Kolkata-style biryani as all Kolkata biryani flavors are compiled in it. Made by 4 tbsp lukewarm milk + 1 pinch of saffron/kesar/ zaffran strands + 1&1/2 tsp kewra/keora water + 3 drops of rose essence + 8-9 drops of mughlai mitha attar.

  • Take 4 tbsp luke warm milk in a bowl, add a pinch of saffron strands or kesar or zaffran and let it soak for 15-20 mins.
saffron is releasing its colour in hot milk
  • After 15 mins, when saffron strands get soft and almost leave its color in milk, then first use your fingertips to rub the strands to release more color from it. Even you may use a little saffron color if the strands don’t leave a strong strain into the milk.
milk with zaffran is ready
  • Then add 1 1/2 tsp of kewra or Keora water and 3 drops of rose essence one by one.
adding kewra water and rose essence to the saffron milk for flavour
  • Lastly add, 8-9 drops of mitha attar(not more than that) to the milk, and mix it well. Keep it aside for using it later.
adding mitha attar( most important ingredient of this kolkata special bengali chicken biryani recipe) to the kesar added milk

How to assemble the biryani in layers

To assemble kolkata biryani first spread over the bay leaves then rice and lastly place the cooked chicken on it. Then put aloo, little chicken gravy, a sprinkle of biryani masala, saffron milk, ghee, fried onions, salt, and again add rice. Spread the rice to make sure the last layer could not be visible from the top. Continuing the process until the rice, chicken, and aloo is finished.

  • Take a thick bottom wide mouth vessel. First, make it dry, then first spread the bay leaves in the bottom of the vessel. As shown in the pic. 
bay leaves are spread on the bottom of biryani vessel
  • First spread 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick layer of rice on the bay leaves.
first layer of rice for this old Calcutta style biryani
  • Then place two chicken pieces and three pieces of aloo on the first layer of rice. Mainly I used murg leg pieces, though that’s not mandatory but you may use breast pieces too.
cooked chicken pieces and cooked aloo is placed on the first layer of white rice
  • Then add 3-4 tbsp of chicken gravy on the rice and chicken pieces.
chicken gravy is spreaded over the cooked chicken leg pieces, aloo and rice
  • Now first sprinkle 1/2 tsp biryani masala all over the layer.
sprinkling bengali biryani masala
  • Then sprinkle 3-4 tsp of essence or flavour added saffron milk all over the layer.
adding flavoured yellow coloured saffron milk to this layer
  • Next, sprinkle 2-3 tsp of ghee from the top of the layer. 
adding ghee to this layer of Bengali style biryani
  • Lastly, sprinkle a handful of crispy fried onion or beresta or birista(in bengali) on the layer and half tsp of salt.
adding beresta + salt to this biryani layer
  • The first layer is complete and looks like this as shown in the picture below.
First layer of this kolkata special chicken biryani is done
  • Then add rice from the top to completely cover the first layer, shown in the pic.
First layer of this bengali biryani is completely covered by white rice
  • Then again assemble the next layer with the same process described just before.
next layer of this kolkata special chicken biryani is done
  • Again cover the second layer with white rice and make the third layer in the same way. 
biryanis third layer is also ready to cover with rice
  • Lastly, cover the last layer with an ample amount of rice to make sure nothing can be visible from the top. 
third layer of this bengali biryani is totally covered with rice
  • Then end up the assembling process by sprinkling 3-4 tsp of ghee, a pinch of biryani masala(not more than that) from the top. 
after adding ghee on the top layer, sprinkling a pinch of bengali biryani masala powder
  • Lastly add salt and the hard-boiled eggs on the top of the rice and close its lid.
lastly sprinkling salt and then hard boiled egg on the top of this kolkata special chicken biryani aka bengali chicken biryani pot

How to put biryani on dum

People use wheat or atta dough to seal the mouth of the biryani pan before placing it on dum. Actually, dum pukht style is a traditional method of Awadhi or Oudh cuisine which maintains few conditions like lowest heat, the sealed mouth of biryani pan or handi, and lastly place burning charcoal on the lid of the handi or pan. As I’m totally against wasting food. Without wasting my atta I always prefer to place a hot water-filled pan on the top of my biryani pan. Which works as charcoal does in dum pukht style means biryani pan gets dum from top & bottom.

  • I place my biryani vessel on the lowest heat of the oven. Place another pan on the top of the biryani vessel full of hot water.
Kolkata special chicken biryani - a Bengali style biryani recipe is on dum from the bottom and top
  • It’ll take a maximum of 30 mins-45 mins to be perfectly done. Or when the outer side and the lid of the vessel will be so hot that you can not touch it also, that indicates your biryani is done. Then turn off the heat.
- a Bengali style biryani recipe is ready with sidho dim and aloo Kolkata style special chicken biryani aka bengali style chicken biryani is ready with sidho dim and aloo
  • Our Kolkata style chicken dum biryani is ready, best to serve this biryani with any Bengali style chicken or muton chaap or reazala or just with salads.

Tips for making Kolkata style best chicken biryani

  • Though old basmati rice is perfect for biryani. The seller must have such information, so just ask him before buying. But if you are buying the packet, then the best option is, go with the well-known brands.
  • As newly harvested basmati rice is done quickly so you must be there from the beginning to end while cooking the rice. When you will observe it’s done as I described above then immediately drain its starch and do the same as I told you.
  • But don’t do anything else or go away from your kitchen while making the rice.
  • Here I’ve mostly used leg pieces, you may use breast pieces too.
  • Including Kabab chini and shahi jeera all the whole spices are easily available in most of the general stores in Kolkata as biryani masala. But for the people staying outside Kolkata may order it (kabab chini or shahi jeera) online. If you are not able to find it out, then instead of shahi jeera you may use 1/2 tsp to 3/4 tsp regular jeera and skip kabab chini.
  • It is my four-layered biryani and that’s not mandatory, you can make three layers too.
  • If you don’t have bay leaves then put your biryani pot on a regularly used tawa which will be placed on the lowest flame of your oven. Bay leaves or tawa both will prevent it from burning from the bottom.
  • I won’t say it’s an easy recipe as it takes a long time. But to make it easy, we must do some time management by doing multitasking during its preparation. Like, while cooking the potatoes, make its dry roasted masala ready. Or even after soaking the rice, first, make beresta or birista, then ginger-garlic paste, and then marinate the chicken.
  • If you ever overcook(after boiling) the aloo or rice, then keep it in the refrigerator for at least half an hour. Then use it, as usual, hope that’ll solve your problem.
  • As I’ve put one hot water-filled pan on my biryani pot while in dum, similarly, you may put a cloth on the mouth of biryani pan and then place its lid to secure the inside air could not pass.
  • It’s best to store your excess powdered biryani masala in an airtight container for further use.

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Kolkata chicken biryani | Bengali chicken biryani recipe
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11 thoughts on “Kolkata special chicken biryani – a Bengali style biryani recipe with chicken”

  1. I want to say a huge ‘thank you’ to you for posting this amazing biryani recipe. The steps are very clear and detailed, and the inclusion of photos is super helpful. It does take a huge effort to make but it is worth every bit. I have already made it three times and will be making it many more times in the future.

    • Hi Moni, I use the ittar named moglai mitha atar written in bengali on that packet which is easily available in the Bangalore (on those stores usually sell Bengali food items). But sorry I forgot the name of the manufacturer. Just check out in your nearby Bengali stores, hope they can help you to find.

    • Hi,
      Mitha attar is also essence, a particular flavour used in kolkata biryani or in any mughlai dishes. It is different from the biryani essence.
      You may get it in USA through Bangladeshi or Indian grocery store, though I am not sure about it.
      However, you can ask to your Indian or Bangladeshi friends around if they may have any idea about mitha attar.

      • Biryani essence smells different from meetha attar. Mitha attar brings kolkata biryani flavour, whereas biryani essence (available almost everywhere in India) is used to make other non Bengali biryani recipes.
        Absense of meetha attar you can use little more kewra water, that will also bring a kolkata biryani flavour.


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