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A top down image of a plate of leftover chicken biryani with potatoes. On the top right is a small plate with sliced tomatoes, and on the top left is a bowl of yoghurt raita that is half cut off from the top.
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5 from 3 votes

Leftover Chicken Biryani

Too many leftovers in your fridge? Turn your leftover curries / salan into delicious leftover biryani with the use of a few pantry staples. The recipe I have shared is for leftover chicken biryani, but it can be used for any meat or vegetables.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Indian, Pakistani
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 300kcal
Author: Kiran


For the rice:

  • 2 ½ cups / 500g Basmati rice
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Leftover Biryani Masala

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 cups leftover curry / salan see note 1
  • 150 g / 1 medium onion sliced
  • 125 g / 1 medium tomato chopped (optional) – see note 2
  • 2 tablespoons yoghurt optional – see note 2
  • 2 potatoes cubed
  • 1 ½ tablespoons store bought biryani masala see note 3

For the garnish:

  • ¼ cup cilantro / coriander leaves
  • 2 green chilies cut into half


Prepare the rice:

  • Thoroughly wash the Basmati rice, and soak in water for 15 minutes.
  • Place a medium pot over medium-high heat and bring 1 ½ litres of water to a boil. Once the water comes to a boil, add the rice along with salt. Wait for it to come to a boil, and then cook for around 5 minutes. The rice should be about 65% cooked – test by breaking the rice with your finger. The rice should have a bite to it – it should not be raw, and it shouldn’t be cooked completely. Drain the rice and set aside.

For the leftover biryani masala gravy:

  • In a medium sized pot or deep frying pan, add oil along with the sliced onions.
  • Cook the onion, until they become golden brown and crispy. Take about 2 tablespoons of the crispy onions for the topping.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, followed by the yoghurt. This step is optional and depends on the amount of gravy in the leftover curries you are using.
  • Once the tomatoes are soft, add the biryani masala or use your own spices (see notes for details). Fry for a minute, and then add the potatoes (if using).
  • Add the leftover curry / salan, and cook for about 3 – 4 minutes till the meat and vegetables heat up and oil can be seen separating from the side. The potatoes should also be 80% done at this stage.
  • Once the leftover biryani masala mixture is ready, set it aside.

Layering and steaming (dum):

  • Take a medium sized pot or dutch oven – it should be enough to fit the rice and the biryani masala and still have 2 – 3 inches space from the top.
  • Layer ½ the biryani masala at the bottom, and then add ½ the rice. Top with the remaining biryani masala, followed by the rice.
  • On top of the rice, add the coriander and reserved fried onions, along with green chilies.
  • Cover the pot and seal the lid with aluminium foil, or a kitchen cloth to seal the lid tightly. This is important as it helps in ensuring that the steam doesn’t escape. A heavy weight can be kept on the lid as well to help in this step.
  • Place the pot on an insulator – this can be a tawa, a flat gridle or a heat diffuser (available at Asian and Indian stores). If you have a cast iron Dutch oven or another heavy bottomed pan, this diffuser can be skipped. Turn the heat to medium for about 3 – 4 minutes. This will help in creating the steam. Once the steam is formed, turn heat to low / simmer, and cook for about 15 minutes on ‘dum’ – this means that the rice will cook in its own steam. Turn off the stove, and let the biryani rest for 10 minutes.
  • To serve, carefully mix the biryani using a small plate or a rice spoon. Move the rice from the sides, and lightly mix ensuring that the rice doesn’t break. Serve the leftover biryani hot with yoghurt or raita.


  1. Leftover Curry: This recipe is super versatile – pretty much any meat and vegetables can be used to make leftover biryani. Be it a dry style curry or a gravy style salan, and even shredded chicken. It can be a mix of different types of curries as well. As long as the curry base is made of either onions, tomatoes or yoghurt it can be used to make leftover biryani masala. 1 cup curry / salan is usually enough for 1 cup of rice. In the case of meat for leftover biryani 3 – 4 pieces of meat (be it chicken, beef, or lamb) are good for 1.5 cups of rice. In case there isn’t enough meat or no meat at all, just add potatoes or other hearty vegetables.
  2. In case there isn’t enough gravy / salan in the leftover curries, tomatoes and yoghurt can be used. I usually add 1 chopped tomato, along with a few tablespoons of yoghurt.
  3. Biryani Masala: Store bought biryani masala is a convenient option for this biryani. I prefer the Shan Bombay Biryani masala or the National Masaleydar Biryani. 1 ½ - 2 tablespoons is good for about 2 ½ cups of rice.  In case you want to use your own spice mix, add a mix of whole spices and powdered spices. 4 black peppercorn, 1 cardamon pod (elaichi), 2 cloves, ½ inch cinnamon with ½ teaspoon red chili powder and salt to taste.


Calories: 300kcal
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