How to make Ambur Biryani?


What is it about the temp’s dipping and the cold weather that makes your stomach growl louder than the wind outside ? 😉  It’s been raining nonstop for the past few days, suddenly the temps seem to have taken a nose dive, the wild winds are roaring…that’s when you want your home fires on, right ?? 😉

Woke up with a desire to have hot & spicy biryani…YES! some days are like that, your only thought is food & FOOD ONLY!! Coming from South India, one has many flavors to pick from ,when it comes to Biryani….one just has to decide on the location where it originated & then Viola ! you have it served on a platter, even if it means you have to cook for yourself  …..being thousands of miles away . Having tried different recipes from South India, today I planned to try the ‘AMBUR BIRYANI‘.
Ambur‘ is a small town located in South India , along the Chennai – Bangalore Highway ( connecting two Southern States), which is well known for it’s flavored Arcot style Biryani.


A favorite spot for travelers traveling either way, a must stop for many, a family tradition for some.The flavored spicy rice preparation called Biryani is supposed to have been brought to India by the Nawabs & Persian Kings & made it’s home in India, in the hearts of it’s people.It’s one of my favorite rice preparations, from the time I can remember clearly .
Why Ambur one might ask,the two main differences in this preparation is unlike the other Biryani’s, Ghee or clarified butter is not used here,freshly made red chilly paste is used instead of Chili powder, which is most commonly used, forever the traditional “dum” cooking is done with firewood in this preparation.

Cooked on Firewood/ ‘Dum’ Biryani                                        Photo Courtesy : The Hindu

This recipe, I followed the original  to the T except for the firewood/”dum” part…. as such I have had a hard time shooing the neighbors every time the smoke alarm goes off ,any time I cook Indian, which is almost every day  😉  I did not want to start a bonfire & the smoke alarm at the same time grin emoticon grin emoticon…so I resorted to stove top cooking & ended with a flavorful dish, indeed.Nothing to chase away the oncoming Winter blues, like the spicy aroma that fills your home & your winter coats alike…Oh, the stories they will tell, to every passer by  🙂

Ambur Biryani
How to make Ambur Biryani?

How to make Ambur Biryani?

Recipe by Maya Shetty
0.0 from 0 votes

Prep time

Cooking time


Total time



  • 2 sticks Cinnamon

  • 6 -8 Cloves

  • 3 -4 Cardamom

  • 1 Star Anise

  • 1 Bay Leaves

  • 4-5 tbsp Oil

  • 1 large Onion (thinly sliced)

  • 1 tsp Turmeric powder

  • 2 Tomatoes (cubed)

  • A bunch Cilantro/Coriander leaves

  • A bunch Mint leaves

  • 3 -4 pods Garlic ( crushed)

  • Ginger an inch or two

  • 6 -8 Red chillies- ( soaked in luke warm water & then ground into a fine paste)

  • 1 cup Yogurt/curds

  • 6 -8 pieces Chicken thighs

  • 2 – 2 1/2 cups Basmati Rice

  • 5 cups Water

  • Salt – to taste

  • 2 Lime – ( juice to squeeze on top)


  • Heat the oil in a thick bottomed vessel, when warm throw in the spices one by one, till the aroma fills the air.
  • Next add the ginger garlic paste or each one of them individually & sauté till the raw smell disappears.
  • To this add the finely sliced onions, followed by tomatoes, sauté till they become soft.To this add the turmeric powder.
  • Now add the chicken, which is cleaned & cut , red chili paste, cilantro & mint paste and salt to taste.Mix all of them well and cover and let cook in it’s own steam, after adding the yogurt at this point.You can use a pressure cooker to do this or can cover a thick bottomed vessel tight, if you are using one, for the chicken to be cooked well.
  • Next add the washed rice which had been soaking for 15-20 minutes prior , & stir it well. You may add a teaspoon of oil at this point, since this helps in preventing the rice from sticking to each other.
  • If cooking in a pressure cooker wait for 3 whistles & then remove from stove top, if cooking directly with a vessel, check to see when rice is cooked & remove from stove top.
  • Squeeze the lime juice on the preparation & garnish with Cilantro leaves on top.Serve hot with raitha/yogurt dip or as traditionally done with an Eggplant/Brinjal curry.
  • Treat yourself to a nice spicy AMBUR BIRYANI….. no better way to chase the cold temps away! Enjoy!

Some of the links to my published blog post recipes using mint leaves are listed below for your interest :

No Comments

  1. Hi. Dr. Maya. Beautifully Explained. Loved the Synopsis. Thks for the recipes & waiting for more to come. Take care 🙂

    • Thank you, Vanita Amin, for your kind and encouraging words, so appreciate you taking the time, to visit my blog and read my posts.Please don’t forget to revisit often, I would love to hear your feedback 🙂