Food from Nepal: Chicken Biryani

by Dave from The Longest Way Home ~ June 14th, 2012. Published in: Travel blog » Food around the world » Nepalese food.
Chicken Biryani from Nepal (tourist version)

Chicken Biryani from Nepal (tourist version)

Chicken Biryani in Nepal

Perhaps this is my most frequently eaten rice based dish in Nepal. It’s delicious, fast to order, not that spicy and quite nutritious! Perhaps more importantly it doesn’t change that much between restaurants meaning you can have some regularity with Chicken Biryani.

There are however different types of Biryani ranging from mutton, fish and a popular vegetarian option.

What is Chicken Biryani made from?

With a huge and diverse history Chicken Biryani varies from country to country. In Nepal it’s usually made with rice, chicken, cashew nuts, green beans, carrot with an added range of spices such as cardamom, bay leaves, coriander, ginger, onions, chili and garlic.

Tourist versions of Chicken Biryani in Nepal often add an egg or extra cashew nuts. While more moderate to local versions don’t often have an egg and either have less cashew nuts or substitute them for another type of nut.

History of Chicken Biryani from Iran to Pakistan, India and finally Nepal

Biryani originated in Persia (Iran) where it’s plainer but comes with side dishes like yogurt. Merchants and travelers pushed Biryani into the Indian subcontinent where it garnered many of it’s more recognizable spices today. Making its way up north to Nepal Biryani quickly became a favourite of the Nepalese people who added their own zest to the dish.

Chicken Biryani in Nepal (local version)

Chicken Biryani in Nepal (local version) - no egg or cashew nuts

Today due to its popularity Biryani can be found all over the world. With unique variations also appearing in countries like Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand, Burma and Sri Lanka.

What does Chicken Biryani taste like in Nepal?

I’ve tasted chicken Biryani in nearly all the above countries. The Nepalese version seems to have added more fresh vegetables, cardamom and coriander. There is certainly a strong reliance on those spices but not in a hot way. Occasionally I do wish there was less spice but it certainly doesn’t detract from the overall dish.

The most notable difference in taste between Biryani came from Iran where it’s much plainer. That’s not always a bad thing as sometimes when traveling starting off with something plain is good. Other exceptions were some very hot Biryani’s in India and some plainer ones in Thailand.

Looking for something tasty and nutritious that’s not too hot and spicy, give Chicken Biryani a try when you are in Nepal.

This is an additional article highlighting food from Nepal

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11 Great responses to Food from Nepal: Chicken Biryani

  1. Mark says:

    I never knew this dish was so diverse! I always just thought it was an Indian rice dish.

  2. Cynthia says:

    I love biryani! Could eat it all day

  3. Jan says:

    I find it amazing to read how one dish like this traveled so far across many countries

  4. jonny says:

    I love beryani specially with combinations grilled lamb chops.

  5. Audrey says:

    Hi Dave

    Yum! Chicken Biryani one of my favourite dishes. The Nepalese version sounds and looks great. I find the Malaysian, Singaporean Indian similar to the India Indian versions with cashews and Egg but I guess you can add whatever you wish to it. The South African version has raisins.
    Can I share my favourite version here?
    A good friend of mine Claudette has a spice business(search the web for “No worries curries”) and anyone can cook like a gourmet Indian chef using her products. I have not had a bad curry from her range. She is Melbourne based and you can order online. I promise you best curries all made
    by you at home. Easy and great to impress friends at dinner parties and Delish always :)

    Anyway I can wax lyrical about food all day long……

    Thanks again Dave for your food blogs. Always a hungry read.


  6. My friends who already tried the sought-after Biryani, told me it was excellent. I was so envy that I told them to stop bringing up the details. Haha

  7. roger says:

    whenever i visit a Mideastern restaurant I always order this Chicken Biryani. I tried to get the perfect mix on how to make this dish but I guess I will never achieved that cuz I’m not really a cook. Very good food one of my favorite.

    Dave can you make a post on how to make an authentic Chicken Biryani the correct ingredients to use and how to make them