Kabuli Chana Biryani/Chickpea Biryani

June 22, 2020mayurisjikoni
Blog post




Kabuli Chana Biryani or Chickpea Biryani is a vegetarian biryani that is deliciously spicy, aromatic, flavourful and perfect as a meal on a lazy Sunday. Serve it with a side of raita and a salad.


How did I decide to use Kabuli Chana?

Finally, the local ISKCON temple (Mombasa) opens up its restaurant for takeaway only, after having been closed for 2 months because of the Covid 19 pandemic. Last Saturday, my neighbor placed an order with the temple restaurant for Sunday Lunch and I jumped for joy as I’m fed up with daily cooking. It was a much-required rest from the kitchen for a while at least.
For hubby and me he ordered one thali but it was enough for two. After we finished our lunch, a bit of the vegetable biryani and a bit of Chole (Chickpea Curry) were left over. I mixed both and put them away in the fridge. The next day heated it and enjoyed it for lunch. It was so flavorful and tasty. Thus the idea of Kabuli Chana Biryani came to mind.


This Week’s Theme on FoodieMonday/Bloghop Group:

It is my turn to suggest the theme for this week. My suggestion is Chana, use them whole and not the flour. The other suggestion is milk. Obviously, chana won. I was two-minded as I had a dish with milk too in my head. I chose chana to get the Kabuli Chana Biryani out of my head and the milk idea remains. So yes Theme #252 is Chana Time.


What is  Chana?

Chana or Chickpeas is a legume that is used in a wide variety of dishes all over the Indian Subcontinent. Right from the peas, to split peas to flour. It is one of the staples in any Indian pantry. It is believed that chana is one of the oldest legume or pulse known to mankind. Chickpeas are very popular in the North African, Mediterranean countries, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India. With veganism and vegetarianism gaining popularity worldwide chickpea consumption too has risen. 


Types of Chana/Chickpeas

There are two main distinct varieties of Chana or Chickpeas:

Desi Chana Or Bengal Gram:

One is what is called the Desi Chana or Bengal Gram. Usually smaller in size, they are either brown, reddish brown or black in colour. This variety is usually used to make gram flour, besan or chickpea flour. It has a much higher fibre content and low glycemic index making it a popular pulse for diabetics and for those on weight loss diets.

Kabuli Chana/Garbanzo

The other variety is the much bigger size and beige in colour Kabuli Chana, also known as garbanzo beans. This variety is not only popular in India but also in the North African countries, Mediterranean countries, Pakistan, Afghanistan. In India the name Kabuli Chana is pretty popular as long time ago it was believed that these bigger beige beans came from Afghanistan.


Chickpea Dishes

All varieties of Chickpeas or their flour form are used in almost all the daily cooking in India right from drinks to desserts. Chickpeas are rich, not online protein but also iron, folate, potassium, and manganese. No wonder it is one of the most widely used legumes. Here, I will only mention dishes where chickpea or chana have been used as a whole and not in the flour form:


What is a Biryani?

Biryani is a rich, aromatic, rice dish whereby half cooked flavored rice and a curry as put together and allowed to cook further sealed in a pan or pot over a low flame. Modern times biryani is further cooked in an oven. I’ve watched a cookery show sometime back where a hole was dug out in the soil, burning coal placed in the hole and on top the pan filled with biryani. The lid was sealed tight with some dough. The pan was packed on top with the soil and allowed to cook.

Well, my Kabuli Chana Biryani definitely has not been cooked in such an elaborate fashion.


Ingredients required for Kabuli Chana Biryani/Chickpea Biryani:

  • Rice – best to use basmati or any long grain rice that is suitable for biryani and pulao. These days there are so many varieties available.
  • Chickpeas – Kabuli Chana or the white ones as they are popularly called. I’ve used cooked chickpeas.
  • Onions – Peeled and sliced ones are cooked over low heat till they become golden brown.
  • Garlic – for added taste is used in the minced or paste form.
  • Ginger – fresh ginger used finely grated or minced into a paste.
  • Green Chillis – minced into a paste form. Use according to your taste. I don’t use too many as we don’t like really hot food.
  • Tomato Puree – I prefer to cook the tomatoes first and then puree them.
  • Ghee or Oil – the choice is yours. For vegan version use oil. Personally I love the aroma and flavour of ghee in biryanis.
  • Coconut Milk – for the gravy or curry
  • Fresh Coriander – chopped along with the stems as they are the most flavorful part of the herb
  • Fresh Mint – chopped. I usually chop it just before layering the biryani as chopped mint tends to turn black very quickly.
  • Spices – Bay Leaves, Turmeric Powder, Red Chilli Powder, Coriander Powder, Saffron, Anise Star, Cloves, Cardamom, Cinnamon
  • Biryani Masala Powder – ready made or homemade one
  • Salt – to bring out all the flavours
  • Nuts – almonds, cashew nuts
  • Raisins or Sultanas


Dietary Tips:

  • For Vegan version omit using ghee. Use coconut oil or an oil of your choice
  • Its Gluten Free. 
  • For Satvik version omit onions and garlic. Though the taste will be different but by no means not flavorful.
  • Vegetarian

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Kabul chana biryani collage

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Most satisfying and filling meal which is not only aromatic but very flavourful and delicious.Ideal Sunday lunch meal.
5 from 10 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4 servings


For the Rice:

  • 1 cup basamti or any long grain rice
  • 3 cups water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ghee or oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 star anise
  • 4-6 cardamom pods
  • 2 pieces cinnamon sticks about an inch long
  • 6 cloves
  • ¼ tsp saffron strands
  • 2 tbsp hot rice water

For the Chickpea Curry:

  • 1 cup white chickpeas (kabuli chana) cooked
  • ½ cup sliced onion
  • 1 tbsp ghee or oil
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp green chilli paste
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • ¼ cup fresh tomato puree
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • ¾ - 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp biryani masala powder

For In Between Layer:

  • ½ cup fresh coriander chopped
  • 20-25 mint leaves chopped

For the Top Layer:

  • ½ cup onion sliced
  • 1 tbsp ghee or oil
  • 10-12 almonds cut into halves
  • 10-12 cashew nuts cut into halves
  • 2 tbsp raisins or sultanas


  • Preparation of the Rice:
  • Wash and soak rice in 3 cups of water for 30 minutes.
  • Pour the water from the soaked rice into a big saucepan.
  • Add the bay leaves, star anise, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, ½ tsp salt and 1 tsp ghee to the water.
  • Bring the water to a boil over medium heat.
  • Add the soaked rice and allow it to simmer and cook till half done.
  • Drain the rice out into a sieve or colander.
  • Don't throw the water away. You will need some later on. The remaining can be used up as stock for soup.
  • Add two tbsp of the hot rice water into a small bowl or cup. Add saffron to it and allow it to steep.

Preparation of the Kabuli Chana/Chickpea Curry:

  • Heat ghee or oil in a pan over low to medium heat.
  • Add onions and a pinch of salt. Stir fry the onions over low heat till they become golden brown.
  • Add ginger, garlic and green chilli paste. Stir fry till the garlic turns slightly pink.
  • Add salt, turmeric, red chilli and coriander powders. Mix it well.
  • Add the tomato puree and mix.
  • Cover the pan and allow the mixture to cook over low heat for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the chickpeas and coconut milk. Allow the mixture to simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.
  • Add the biryani masala powder and mix well.
  • Take the pan off the heat.

Preparation of the Topping:

  • Heat ghee or oil in a wide pan over medium to low heat.
  • Add the chopped almonds and roast them till they begin to turn light brown.
  • Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon.
  • Add cashew nuts and roast them till they turn pink.
  • Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon.
  • Add raisins and stir fry till they swell up.
  • Remove from the pan using a slotted spoon.
  • At more ghee is required.
  • Stir fry the sliced onions till they trun golden brown.

Layering the Biryani:

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Lightly grease a baking tray with some ghee or oil.
  • Add half of the rice to the tray and spread it out to make a layer.
  • Sprinkle ¼ cup rice water over it.
  • Sprinke half of the saffron water over it.
  • Add the chickpea curry layer, spreading it out over the rice evenly.
  • Sprinkle the chopped coriander and mint over the curry.
  • Add the remaining rice and spread it out evenly over the mint coriander layer.
  • Sprinkle the remaining saffron water and ¼ cup rice water over it.
  • Add the topping, i.e. the roasted nuts, raisins and browned onion.
  • Cover the tray with an aluminium foil.
  • Bake the biryani for 20 -30 mins or till the rice is done.
  • Serve piping hot biryani with raita, salan or plain yogurt and some roasted papad.


  • Make sure you sprinkle some water over the rice layers so that the rice cooks nicely in the oven.
  • To save time, prepare the chickpea curry the previous day and leave it in the fridge. It helps the spices to infuse making it more flavoruful.
  • Can add other vegetables and chopped paneer to the curry if you wish.
  • If you have a clay pot or individual portion clay pots, bake the biryani in the pots for that traditional feel.
Keyword biryani, chickpea recipes, gluten free option, indian vegetarian, kabuli chana recipe, lunch recipe, lunchbox recipe, rice recipes, vegan option

Pin for later:

Kabul chana biryani

A little request:

If you do try this recipe then please either

  • add a comment below,
  • send a picture to my email mayuri.ajay.patel62@gmail.com
  •  tag me as #mayuri_jikoni on Instagram
  • or tag me on Twitter as #Mayuri1962



  • Rafeeda – The Big Sweet Tooth

    June 23, 2020 at 9:32 am

    5 stars
    I can totally understand your feeling when it comes to getting food from outside. Even we would get so bored of cooking that we would crave for outside food, but wouldn’t order. Hehe… The chana biriyani looks super delicious. I make chana pulao occasionally when we crave for something different, but biriyani has not been up my alley. I must try this. Love how it is so rich with all the nuts and so aromatic too…

    1. mayurisjikoni

      June 24, 2020 at 3:25 pm

      Thank you so much Rafeeda, please do try the recipe out, its really delicious and you can adjust the spices according to your taste. As for the outside food, for now can only trust what is coming from the temple.

  • Priya Vj

    June 23, 2020 at 4:14 pm

    Loved your recipe for biryani .my hubby is a die hard fan of biryani while I love pulao. I shall try this recipe of urs soon to satisfy his biryani craving 🙂

    1. mayurisjikoni

      June 23, 2020 at 6:30 pm

      Thanks Priya, please do make it and share a click.. I hope your hubby enjoys it. My hubby is insisting I make it again this weekend 🙂

  • Poonam Bachhav

    June 24, 2020 at 3:22 am

    5 stars
    Chana biryani in coconut milk sounds so flavorful! I have never tried making biryani in an oven. Bookmarking this recipe to try out soon.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      June 24, 2020 at 3:10 pm

      Thanks Poonam, coconut milk adds lots of flavour, try it. And I usually use the oven for completing the cooking process of biryani.

  • Swati

    June 24, 2020 at 4:55 pm

    5 stars
    I do make Pulao using chickpeas but never made briyani.. need to try this Kabuli Chana biryani with riot of flavours and I liked the use of coconut milk here, which makes it more appealing to try out soon. .. it will be a perfect weekned brunch with some chilled raita on side!!

    1. mayurisjikoni

      June 25, 2020 at 10:25 pm

      Thanks Swati and yes kabuli chana biryani makes a perfect Sunday lunch time meal…as one can take a siesta after the indulgence.

  • The Girl Next Door

    June 24, 2020 at 5:57 pm

    5 stars
    I love the idea of making biryani with chickpeas. I’m a big fan of chickpeas, so I’m sure I would love this flavourful and nutritious biryani. 🙂 Absolutely love your way of presentation and the detailed recipe.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      June 25, 2020 at 10:22 pm

      Thank you so much Priya, and please do try out the biryani.


    June 25, 2020 at 10:41 pm

    5 stars
    Layered biryani with chana looks absolutely scrumptious. with all spices, coconut milk this must be more flavorful. Wish someone makes biryani for me. So bored of eating my own food.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      June 26, 2020 at 5:39 pm

      Thanks Narmadha, it was very flavorful as I also made the biryani spice mixture at home.. yes for now its a relief for me as we are able to buy take away thali from the ISKCON temple on Sundays.

  • Archana

    June 26, 2020 at 7:27 pm

    5 stars
    First I am glad you got the much needed rest from cooking. We may be foodies but that doesn’t mean we can do cooking and conjure delicious food all the time.
    I have tried making chana biryani but it is no where as beautiful and as delicious as the one you have presented. I really must try it out. But will have to make it after a few months. Once my medication stops. So till then I will dream on that I can match your pics.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      June 27, 2020 at 12:34 am

      Thanks Archana and your comment has made me smile… am sure you’ll come up with much better pics.

  • Sujata Roy

    June 27, 2020 at 2:06 am

    5 stars
    Interesting recipe Mayuri. You soaked the saffron in rice water instead of milk. And also loved the use of coconut milk. This baked biryani definitely becomes aromatic and delicious. I would love to try it sometime. I am also missing outside food for this situation. Hope everything becomes normal soon.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      June 27, 2020 at 7:01 pm

      Thanks Sujata, yes the extra rice water is usually hot and flavorful so just used that. We all wish for the situation to get back to normal but in reality this is going to take a long time.

  • Preethi’sCuisine

    June 27, 2020 at 8:39 am

    5 stars
    Delicious and nutritious chana biryani. I would love to try this one pot meal. We are crave for outside food once in while but home made food is always the best. Loved your presentation and pics.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      June 27, 2020 at 6:58 pm

      Thanks Preethi, hope you will try out this chana biryani. As for outside food I must admit I do love which till now took it for granted. Under these circumstances occasional outside food is a relief for me from the kitchen.

  • vasusvegkitchen

    June 28, 2020 at 10:12 pm

    5 stars
    kabuli chana biryani looks super delicious di, it is very tempting and i am really craving to have some. The way you added roasted nuts, brown onions on top is very attractive. Adding this recipe in my wish list and bookmarking to try it soon. You clearly explained recipe di, surely we will get perfect biryani by following your recipe.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      June 29, 2020 at 3:30 pm

      Thank you so much Aruna, please share a photo whenever you try it.

  • waagmi

    June 28, 2020 at 11:47 pm

    5 stars
    Love the kabuli chana biryani…I agree its satifying and flavorful… you took lovely close picture.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      June 29, 2020 at 3:29 pm

      Thank you so much Waagmi.

  • Sasmita

    June 29, 2020 at 10:38 am

    WOW such a nice twist to our fav biryani di here using chickpeas / chana.
    much delicious and nutritious chana biryani you have shared here. I would love to try this one pot meal as I often make chana pulao, this is a nice variation to that for us

    1. mayurisjikoni

      June 29, 2020 at 3:28 pm

      Thanks Sasmita, please do try out the recipe, its filling and delicious.

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