Cape Biryani/Breyani

Recipe by Zurie
READY IN: 2hrs 15mins


  • 1 12
    lbs chicken thighs, on the bone (750 g, or use drumsticks and thighs, but don't remove the skin)
  • salt and pepper, to taste, for the dish
  • 34
    cup buttermilk (180 ml)
  • 2
    tablespoons cilantro, fresh, chopped (30 ml chopped coriander leaves)
  • 12
    tablespoon cinnamon, ground (7 ml)
  • 1
    teaspoon turmeric (5 ml)
  • 1
    tablespoon cumin, ground (15 ml)
  • 1
    tablespoon coriander seed, ground (15 ml)
  • 1
    tablespoon masala (15 ml)
  • 1
    hot pepper, chopped (1 chilli)
  • 34
    cup basmati rice (180 ml)
  • 4
    ounces lentils, brown, rinsed (125 g)
  • oil (for frying)
  • 1
    large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 -3
    large potatoes, peeled, chopped into chunks
  • 2
    cinnamon sticks (or use 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
  • 1
    tablespoon coriander seed, ground (extra to amount mentioned above)
  • 3
    cardamom pods, slit and seeds removed to use
  • 1
    tablespoon cumin, ground (extra to amount already mentioned)
  • 1
    pinch saffron, soaked in a little water (sub with a good pinch turmeric)
  • 3
    eggs, hard-boiled
  • chopped cilantro, to garnish


  • Preheat oven to 325 deg F/160 deg Celsius.
  • Season chicken with salt and pepper. Mix together the buttermilk, cilantro, cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, ground coriander, masala and hot pepper. Pour over chicken pieces and marinate 3 hours or overnight.
  • Parboil rice in 2 cups water for 20 minutes, and drain well.
  • Simmer lentils in 2 cups water water for 20 minutes, and drain well.
  • Heat a fair amount of oil in a saucepan, and fry onion and potatoes until softened. Add the cinnamon, ground coriander, cardamom seeds, cumin and saffron (or sub with a good pinch turmeric) and cook, stirring, for a minute. Set aside.
  • Layer half the rice, followed by half each of of the lentils, and the spiced potatoes and onion in an ovenproof dish. Top with the chicken.
  • Repeat the layers with the remaining ingredients, top with saffron/turmeric water, and cover it all with tinfoil and a tight-fitting lid.
  • Bake for 1 1/2 - 2 hours or until chicken and rice are cooked through.
  • Garnish with quarters of hardboiled eggs and sprinkle with cilantro/coriander leaves.