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Sadia Hussain

Feb 27, 2021

Qabooli/Chana Daal Biryani Recipe

Qabooli is a version of Hyderabadi biryani. Fragrant, long grains of basmati rice layered with a flavorful chana daal mixture is a satisfying, delicious meal.

This traditional Hyderabadi biryani is made with mild spices which makes it a light vegetarian one-dish meal. I love making this biryani because the chana daal cooks much faster than meat or chicken and it’s full of protein and fiber.

I like to soak chana daal overnight because it cooks faster and is easier to digest. I also like to make a big batch and freeze half for another day, which makes a super quick meal even on a busy weekday.

All this needs is a side of yogurt or chutney and you have yourself a nutritious, scrumptious and filling meal.

Qabooli/Chana Daal Biryani Recipe

Sadia Hussain




1 Hour 30 Minutes Not Including Soaking Time


  • 1 cup chana daal, washed and soaked in water, overnight

  • 3 cups basmati rice, washed and soaked in water while you cook chana daal

  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced and fried golden brown (reserve a handful)

  • 1/2 cup full fat yogurt

  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste

  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

  • Oil or ghee for cooking (I use ghee)

For Boiling the Rice

  • 2 tablespoons salt

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 2-3 cloves

  • 2-3 bay leaves

  • 3-4 whole black peppercorns

  • A handful of fresh mint leaves (optional)

For the Assembly

  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads

  • 4-5 small green cardamom pods

  • 1 cup hot milk

  • A handful of fresh coriander, chopped

  • 3-4 green chilies

  • 1 lemon, juiced

  • 2 tablespoons ghee (optional)

  • A handful of fried onions


  1. In a blender, grind onions, yogurt, garlic paste, ginger paste, salt, coriander powder and turmeric powder to a smooth paste. You may need a 1/2 cup of water to get it going. 

  2. In a large pot, heat ghee and fry the paste on medium heat for 10 minutes or until the oil rises to the top. Mix continuously so the paste does not stick and burn. 

  3. Add the drained chana daal and 1 1/2 cups hot water and cook, covered on low heat for 20 minutes or until the daal is tender when pressed between your fingers. Daal should be whole and not mushy. Set aside.

  4. In another large pot, boil water with salt, cinnamon stick, cloves, bay leaves, peppercorns and mint (optional)

  5. Add drained rice and cook for 7-10 minutes or until rice is almost cooked. You don't want the rice to be fully cooked or it will be mushy when steamed with the chana daal. 

  6. Drain rice and let sit in a colander for 10 minutes. 

  7. In a mortar and pestle grind saffron threads and cardamom pods to a fine powder. Add powder to hot milk, mix and set aside. 

  8. In the same pot that you boiled the rice in, layer half the rice in the bottom of the pot. Add the chana daal mixture, milk, coriander, green chilies, lemon juice and ghee (optional).

  9. Top with the remaining rice. Sprinkle 1/2 a cup of hot water over the rice. Gently lay a damp tea towel or damp paper towels on top of the rice. Cover the pot tightly with foil. Cover the foil with the lid. 

  10. Steam on low heat for 45 minutes.

  11. Careful take off lid and foil and gently fold rice and daal until combined. Top with fried onions. 

Tips and Bits

Always use the best quality basmati rice for biryani.

Cooking rice for biryani is trial and error. Once the water is rapidly boiling, keep checking a grain or two of rice to make sure you drain it as soon as it is around half cooked. 

I freeze fried onions so I always have them on hand. It cuts cooking time in dishes like curries and biryanis. 

Before serving, you can fish out all the whole spices. 

I gently mix biryani with a saucer to avoid breaking the grains of rice. 

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