Hyderabadi Egg Biryani

60 minutes
60 minutes
Recipe developed for BC Egg by Diversivore

With saffron, fried onions, and complex spices, egg biryani is a beautiful and elegant treat from the rich and flavourful culinary traditions of Hyderabad, India. This dish is a bit complex to organize, but it’s not difficult to make – just be sure to read through the recipe and the notes thoroughly before you get started!


Saffron Milk

  • 5-6 threads saffron
  • 1/2 cup milk


  • 15 oz basmati rice (~2.25 cups) preferably aged
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ghee or oil
  • 1 Indian bay leaf (tejpat) (see note)
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 green cardamom pods


  • 3 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • 1/4 cup fried onions (see note)
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chili powder (see note)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp biryani masala
  • 2 tbsp cilantro
  • 1 tbsp mint
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (curd)
  • 3/4 cup water


  • 8 hard boiled eggs
  • 2 tsp biryani masala (see note)
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For tips on cooking the perfect hard boiled eggs, click here!

For Serving

  • 2 tbsp cilantro finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp mint finely chopped
  • 1 cup fried onions (see note)
  • 1 tbsp oil or ghee


Saffron Milk

  1. Wrap the saffron in a small piece of aluminum foil, then toast in a hot frying pan for about 30 seconds.
  2. Add the toasted saffron to the milk and set aside.


  1. Rinse the basmati very well, and drain thoroughly.
  2. Soak the rice in fresh water for ~30 minutes. If you’re ready to parboil the rice, continue to the next step; otherwise, cover the rice and set it aside.
  3. Add the water and spices to a large pot and bring to a boil. Add rice, stirring regularly but gently. Boil until the rice is
    about 75% cooked; approximately 7 minutes. Drain thoroughly and rinse gently with cold water. Pick out and discard the large spices.


  1. Heat the ghee in a frying pan over medium heat. Sauté the gravy spices (cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, bay leaves, black pepper) briefly.
  2. Add the ginger-garlic paste and cook for about 1 minute.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for an additional 3-4minutes.
  4. Add the fried onions, Kashmiri chili powder, coriander, turmeric. Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  5. Stir in the biryani masala, cilantro, mint, salt, and yogurt (curd). Mix well, and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  6. Add water to the pan, then return to a simmer. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes. Add salt to taste.

Note: Do not clean out your pan when you’re finished! You can transfer your gravy to a separate bowl if you wish, but you want to leave the leftover gravy in the pan for frying the spiced eggs (see below).


For tips on cooking the perfect hard boiled eggs, click here!

  1. After your hard cooked eggs have cooled, peel the eggs and cut each egg in half.
  2. Combine the salt and masala. Dip the cut face of the eggs in mixture.
  3. Fry the eggs in the gravy pan with 1 tbsp of ghee (or oil) until crispy.


  1. Oil the bottom of the cooking pot. Assemble the layers in the following order:
    • 1/3 of the rice
    • 1/3 of the herbs and saffron milk
    • 1/2 gravy and onions
    • 1/3 of the rice
    • 1/3 of the herbs and saffron milk
    • Eggs
    • Remaining gravy and onions
    • Remaining rice
    • Remaining herbs and saffron milk

2. Dum cook the biryani (see note) for 5 minutes over high heat, then 20-25 minutes over low heat.

3. Uncover the rice immediately before serving. I like to mix the biryani a bit, but take care not to overdo it. Serve with raita, chutney, bread, etc.


Ginger-Garlic Paste 
A convenient and frequently used staple in Indian cooking, this simple combination is fairly easy to prepare. Peel equal amounts of both ingredients and crush/grind them in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.  You can also purchase crushed (or very finely minced) garlic and ginger, and use 1 tbsp of each instead of doing the crushing yourself.

Indian Bay Leaf
If you can’t get Indian bay, don’t substitute bay laurel (the standard bay leaf found in most Western kitchens).  Instead, use a little more cinnamon and a little extra clove.

Kashmiri Chili
Kashmiri Chili is sweet, and somewhat mild.  If you can’t find it, you can  substitute a 4:1 mixture of sweet paprika and cayenne pepper (or a similar hot chili powder).

Fried Onions (Birista)
These can be purchased at Indian grocery stores, but if you have time, you can make your own. Simply slice your onions very thinly, then fry them until they’re golden in a generous quantity of oil.  You want your oil hot, but not so hot that the onions burn quickly.  Do not attempt to salvage burnt onions, as they’ll be very bitter and sour.

Biryani Masala
This spice mix can be found in many Indian grocery stores, or you can make your own (there are many different recipes). In a pinch, you can also substitute garam masala plus some added ground cardamom, star anise, and nutmeg.

Dum Cooking
This method of cooking with low, indirect heat traditionally involves sealing a cooking pot with dough and cooking it in coals. At home, this is most easily imitated by using a pot with a tight fitting lid (aluminum foil can be used to seal any vents), which is then heated on top of a heavy skillet or pan on the stove top. I use a large Dutch oven and a heavy cast iron pan.

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