thai chicken biryani (khao mok gai)

I found this recipe in Lonely Planet’s Thailand: From the Source cookbook (yes, LP has a few cookbooks!) and we are now all obsessed with this dish.  It’s a southern Thai meets Indian dish where the chicken is braised in rice with turmeric and spices and this specific recipe calls for a generous scattering of deep fried shallots over top.  SO GOOD!!!  Even my increasingly picky toddler was going to town on this. (Although, he wouldn’t eat the shallots ‘cus he said they were ‘octopus’ – you can’t win em all!)

A few things I did different: There’s a recipe for a chilli dipping sauce included but I skipped it and just used store-bought Thai sweet chilli sauce.  I also used coconut milk instead of unsweetened evaporated milk and used de-boned chicken thighs instead of entire chicken legs.  Just though it would make my life a bit easier but if you want, the original recipe calls for 3 chicken legs with the skin removed and cut into big chunks (whatever ‘big’ means, I dunno!)

Serves 4

~700 grams chicken thighs, cut into roughly 1 inch pieces  /  2 tsp curry powder (I used Indian curry)  /  1 tsp ground turmeric  /  1 tsp ground coriander  /  1/2 tsp ground cumin  /  1 tsp ground cinnamon  /  1 tsp salt  /  1 tbsp sugar  /  2 bay leaves  /  200 ml coconut milk  /  1 and 1/2 tbsp butter  /  2 cups jasmine rice, rinsed and drained  /  2 cups water  /  canola oil for frying  /  300 grams shallots, very finely sliced (this seems like a lot but it’s really not after frying)  /  pinch of salt


Mix the spices, salt, sugar, bay leaves and coconut milk in a large bowl.  Mix the chicken in and let it marinate for at least 15 minutes.


In a frying pan or a wok, melt the butter over medium-high heat and then add the chicken, including the marinade.  Fry for about 10 minutes or until the chicken is juuuust cooked.  Transfer to a bowl.


I replaced my rice cooker with an Instant Pot so I used that but you can of course use a rice cooker or cook on the stove top.  Add the drained rice and then put the chicken and sauce on top.  Then add the water and if you have the Instant Pot, just press the rice button.  (I am such an Instant Pot convert!)  If you’re cooking on the stove top, bring to a boil and then cover with the lid and turn the heat to low.  Cook for 20-25 minutes until the rice is cooked.


While the rice is cooking, fry the shallots.  In a frying pan or a wok over medium heat, add just enough oil so that you can deep-fry.  Toss the shallots with the salt in a bowl and then squeeze out as much liquid as you can.  When the oil is hot, fry the shallots in batches for about 1 to 2 minutes until crispy.  When each batch is done, transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain any excess oil.


Plate up the rice and chicken, scatter the fried shallots over top and serve with a small bowl of sweet chilli sauce on the side.  Again, SO GOOD!

thai chicken biryani (khao mok gai)




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