Murgh Biryani “dum” Recipe

written by: Mary Brown Malouf      photo by: Adam Finkle

A new dish at the new Saffron Valley in Sugar House.

Lavanya Mahate loves Indian food from all regions and wants you to love it too.

Her latest restaurant is on the outskirts of Sugarhouse, and it brings together ideas from all her previous places—there’s a pastry case in the front, there’s a section of street-style snacks and there’s a menu of kebabs, curries and biryanis. But this being Mahate’s restaurant, there are also surprises—she is always pushing to expand Utahns’ ideas of Indian food beyond tikka masala. One of the restaurant’s signature dishes looks like a chicken pot pie. It’s called Murgh Biryani “dum” style



Biryani is an elaborate rice dish made with basmati rice, goat or chicken meat, yogurt, onions, lemon, saffron and other spices. Cilantro and mint leaves along with fried onions are used as garnish.

Biryani originated as a blend of Mughlai and Iranian cuisines in the Royal kitchens of the Nizam, rulers of the historic City of Hyderabad in Southern India and hence the name Hyderabadi Dum Biryani.

Dum or slow oven cooking is a cooking method in which meat and vegetables are cooked over a very low flame, generally in sealed containers. Dum cooking uses a round, heavy-bottomed pot, preferably a clay or brass pot (handi), in which food is tightly sealed and cooked over a slow fire.

Fresh herbs and whole spices are used liberally in the making of biryanis. The process of slow cooking allows for the spices to release maximum flavor. The sealing of the lid of the handi with dough achieves mellowing of flavors. Cooking slowly in its juices, the meat retains all its natural aromas and imparts a rich taste to the rice.

At Saffron Valley Sugar House, naan dough is spread over the dish, like a lid, to seal the biryani. On cooking, the lid becomes bread which has absorbed the flavors of the food and the two are best eaten together. An accompaniment of raita- cooling yogurt cucumber sauce- complements the spiciness of the dish.



For Chicken Marinade:

2lbs skinless boneless chicken thighs

2 tbsp ginger garlic paste

2 tsps red chilli powder

1 tsp turmeric powder

2 tsp salt

1 bunch cilantro leaves

1 bunch mint leaves

2 green chillies (serrano peppers)

3 cloves

2 inch cinnamon stick

3 green cardamoms

¼ tsp black peppercorns

1 cup fried onions

1 cup plain yogurt

2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tsps garam masala powder

Ingredients for rice:

Water for boiling

2 lb basmati rice

3 cloves

2 inch cinnamon stick

3 green cardamoms

1 tsp salt

Ingredients for Dum seasoning:

2 tbsp ghee

2 tbsp cilantro leaves

2 tbsp mint leaves

2 tbsp fried onions

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsps saffron flavored milk (soak 10 strands of saffron in 2 tbsps hot milk)


Marinate the chicken by adding ginger garlic paste, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt.

Blend cilantro leaves, mint leaves, green chillies with a couple of tablespoons of water. Add this green paste (masala) to the chicken marinade.

Add whole cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper corns, crushed fried onions.

Add beaten yogurt, garam masala, lemon juice and oil to the marinade and mix well.

Refrigerate the marinated chicken for 1-2 hours.

To Cook The Rice:

Wash the basmati rice and soak it in water for 20 mins.

Fill a cooking pot with 3/4ths water. Add cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamoms and salt to the water.

Bring it to a boil.

When the water starts boiling, add the soaked rice to it.

Cook the rice for about 8 minutes until it is 3/4ths done.

Strain the rice in a colander and keep aside.

Dum Cooking:

Smear the bottom of a cooking pan with 1 tbsp ghee.

Spread half the marinated chicken evenly on the bottom of the pan.

Next add half the rice and cover the chicken with it.

Sprinkle the rice with half the cilantro leaves, mint leaves, fried onions.

Also sprinkle half the lemon juice and saffron milk all over the rice.

Repeat with the remaining chicken, rice and garnishes.

Make an elastic dough with 1 cup all-purpose flour, ½ cup water and ½ tsp salt. Roll out the dough into a thin disc and seal the edges of the lid of the cooking pan tightly. Alternately use aluminum foil to seal the edges of the pan and the lid.

Slow cook the biryani on very low heat for 1 hour. Carefully remove the lid.

Garnish the Hyderabadi chicken Dum biryani with more fried onions, cilantro.

Serve with yogurt cucumber raita.

Yogurt Cucumber Raita:


2 cups plain yogurt

1 cucumber, seeded and chopped finely

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper powder

1/ tsp roasted cumin powder

1 tbsp cilantro leaves chopped


Mix all ingredients and refrigerate for an hour before serving.

See more inside our 2017 November/December Issue.

Mary Brown Malouf
Mary Brown Malouf
Mary Brown Malouf is the late Executive Editor of Salt Lake magazine and Utah's expert on local food and dining. She still does not, however, know how to make a decent cup of coffee.

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