Chicken Biryani—Paleo Style

22 Sep

I think my long-standing readers know my Indian food obsession by now, so don’t worry—I won’t be blathering on about how much I love it, how important it is to toast and grind your own spices, and how delicious it is.

But a main component of Indian food is rice, especially if you can’t have naan bread to soak up all the delectable saucy goodness of a good curry. And saddest of all, I recently found out my stomach is not happy with poppadums, made from chickpea flour, and I have had a hard time coming to terms with this. It’s certain that The Husband had nothing to do with it, because if he could control my digestion, he could. But I did think it for a minute, since he’s never been a fan of chickpeas!

So, back to rice. Luckily, one of my newly acquired paleo cookbooks contained a recipe for cauliflower “rice”. What the what? I’d done cauliflower mash a million times (and loved it), but cauliflower RICE? My mind=blown. With happiness! And a second boon—The Husband has never really been a rice fan either, so it’s all worked out for the best. We both loved the cauli rice when I made a pilaf out of it about a month ago, and when What Have We Got Here? posted a Chicken Biryani recipe, I knew I had to make it, paleo style.

I had to pull out the big guns though, and see if Pushpesh Pant had a recipe in his ginormous Indian cookbook, and he did. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take the time I wanted with the recipe, since we’d gone over to my parents’ house earlier in the evening for a little wine and catch-up, but luckily I had leftover Tandoori Chicken, which made it fairly simple to prepare. That recipe is below too, but you could use a rotisserie chicken from the store instead, but the flavors won’t quite be there.

It turned out great! Even leftovers were delicious! Can’t wait to make this again and finesse the recipe a little bit. I hope you enjoy it too!

Tandoori Chicken

Note: This really needs to be done on the grill to get the right flavor

1 small container of plain goat’s, sheep’s or coconut yogurt
1 Tbs ground garam masala
2 tsp cayenne pepper (less if you aren’t a big spicy fan)
1 Tbs salt
1 Tbs fresh ginger paste
1 Tbs fresh garlic paste
The juice of 1.5 lemons

1 fresh, organic, free range awesome chicken, butterflied

If you can’t make paste out of your ginger and garlic, just throw everything in a blender or Vitamix until its all smoothly mixed. If you don’t know how to butterfly a chicken, do a Google search—there’s a million videos and that’s how I learned. It’s fairly easy. Save the backbone for stock.

Marinate the chicken in the tandoori mixture for at least  a half hour, or up to 24 hours. Grill it until the outside’s crispy and the inside is at least 165° F.

You don’t need the whole chicken for the biryani recipe, so feel free to eat some of it first!

Murgh [Chicken] Biryani

1/2 tsp saffron threads
1 Tbs coconut milk, heated
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 white onion, sliced
1 Tbs ginger, minced or grated
3 garlic cloves, minced or grated
1 green chili, cut in half (seeded if you don’t like spice)
1/4 cup toasted cashew nuts, chopped roughly
1/4 cup raisins (if you like them, I omitted them)
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tsp. garam masala
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. ground cumin seed
1 head of cauliflower, leaves and all stems removed

1 cup of cooked chicken, chopped or shredded in big pieces

First clean the cauliflower as above and break into florets. Pulse carefully in the food processor until it resembles rice. Set aside.

Put the saffron threads into a small bowl, add hot coconut milk. Let steep while you prepare the rest. Put the chicken in the oven on a low heat to get warmed through.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan with a heavy bottom; a Le Creuset would work, but I just used a steel, straight-sided, deep frying pan. Add the sliced onions and salt and cook until the onions have caramelized. Add the ginger, garlic and chillies and stir. Add the spices and cook for 1 minute. Add the cauliflower and lemon juice, and sauté for about 5 minutes, testing the “rice” until it seems cooked, but still toothsome, like rice.

Add the saffron milk, cashews, cilantro, raisins (if using) and chicken and stir well. You can keep this warm in the oven for a little while, but not too hot, as the cauliflower may overcook and get soggy. I recommend serving right away with a big green salad!


21 Responses to “Chicken Biryani—Paleo Style”

  1. lorrielorrieb September 22, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

    Biryani….the gift that keeps on giving!! Dee-lish!

  2. girlinafoodfrenzy September 23, 2012 at 5:04 am #

    Saffron! Coconut milk! Chicken biryani, definite drool… I love exotic spices and flavours, my best friend is a fantastic cook especially regarding Indian cuisine and as a result I’ve rarely tried those recipes at home. That and (unfortunately) my sweethearts hyper sensitive tummy. But, cauliflower rice sounds like an amazing nutritional substitute which I must try sometime 🙂

    • tinykitchenstories September 23, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

      You’re so lucky your friend makes amazing Indian food. I’d never leave her house! 🙂

      • Leigh June 4, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

        Made the biryani tonight and it is FANTASTIC. One question: the instructions say to add lemon juice, but it isn’t listed in the ingredients. I just guessed and added a couple tablespoons. It might have been a little on the lemony side. I cut the cayenne in half and my kids are adding some Greek yogurt to theirs to cut the spice, but it was perfect for me. Thanks!!

        • tinykitchenstories June 5, 2013 at 9:50 am #

          First of all–THANK YOU! What a great compliment, and I so appreciate you taking the time to comment!

          Secondly, thank you for pointing out the missing lemon juice in the ingredients. I hate that in other recipes, so I want to fix that asap. Usually it’s just the juice of half a lemon, or to taste, so sorry about that.

          Great idea about the Greek yoghurt for those who want less spice! I’ll have to add that tip to the recipe.

          I truly appreciate the feedback, and it’s made me so happy to know that one of my recipes was made in a household somewhere across the world. Cheers!

  3. Somer September 23, 2012 at 6:33 pm #

    Great idea about the cauliflower rice! I’m going to have to try it!

    • tinykitchenstories September 23, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

      It’s so delish! Let me know how it goes. And I love my little containers too—cost plus world market find!

      • Somer September 23, 2012 at 7:19 pm #

        K! Oh, and I love world market! I need to make a trip to that store!

        • tinykitchenstories September 24, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

          Online is great too! 🙂

          • Somer September 25, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

            Duh, I didn’t know there was an online store! Time to browse. We’ve got simple grocery stores nearby, but all the good stuff is a good 30-45 minutes away.

          • tinykitchenstories September 27, 2012 at 10:35 am #

            There’s sometimes more on the online store anyway. Our nearest one is at least 30 mins away too. Happy shopping! 🙂

          • Somer September 30, 2012 at 8:27 am #


  4. Somer September 23, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

    p.s. those are the cutest spice jars ever!

  5. The Mouse September 24, 2012 at 12:11 am #

    Sorry to hear ’bout your tummy troubles. Eat more pork. That cures everything. Hope you get better.

  6. Paleo Chili Recipes January 11, 2014 at 11:12 pm #

    I’d like to thank you for the efforts you’ve put in penning this website.
    I’m hoping to check out the same high-grade blog
    posts from you later on as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my very own site now 😉

    • tinykitchenstories January 12, 2014 at 4:39 pm #

      Thanks for the note! I do hope you get started on your own blog. Good luck!


  1. 2 Great Paleo Recipes: Slow Cooker Chicken Curry and Riced Cauliflower | Fits of Health - October 2, 2012

    […] Chicken Biryani – Paleo Style ( […]

  2. 2 Great Paleo Recipes: Slow Cooker Chicken Curry and Riced Cauliflower | Test site for www.fitsofhealth.comTest site for - October 10, 2012

    […] Chicken Biryani – Paleo Style ( […]

  3. Reinventing childhood favorites: biryani and tomato-cucumber sambal | Three Hungry Dames - February 16, 2013

    […] I stayed pretty true to her recipe, I wanted to share my experience with it to show it can be done, even by a […]

Does it make you hungry, baby?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: