How To Make a Feminist Chicken Biriani

I haven’t blogged on here for 3 years. It feels kinda weird but also nice. I’ve missed this.

Feminist Biriani 

So earlier this year, I had invited a couple of friends to my house for lunch and tweeted about making them biriani. Some random dude on Kenyan Twitter decided to use that to mock me and Feminists in general. And so the term #FeministBiriani was coined. The food and the day ended up being dope and the sad man yelled at his keyboard because his plot to ruin my day was defeated. I took some pictures that day cos I wanted to tweet the recipe but then got lazy and too full.

This week, someone asked for a pilau recipe and as I was sending to her and a few others I decided to finally put down the recipe for the #FeministBiriani. Hope y’all enjoy.

*Warning* Using this recipe might turn you into a Feminist. Tread carefully. 

Ok, so Biryani itself originated from South East Asia, although even Wiki doesn’t know from where specifically. I’m assuming the Swahili learned it from Indian traders who came to the Coast back when. I’ve noticed that there’s slight differences in how the we make it and how Kenyan Indians do it today.


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Like with everything else, there’s a specific way that biryani is cooked that’s considered the authentic way. In the older days there was no gas cookers and pressure cookers or meat tenderizers and all that. I remember the biryani meat used to be marinated in yoghurt and raw pawpaw to soften it. This also works with kienyeji chicken since it’s tougher. Sometimes they used to marinate and then slow cook it the whole night. The deliciousness of this cannot be described. Oh Em Gee! But I haven’t seen this method used in ages, especially the raw pawpaws.

Image from

Image from

Biryani basically is a rice and sauce dish. The rice is cooked separately and the sauce separately. Some versions of it have the sauce and rice mixed during the last stage of cooking and then served as one dish and another, they’re served separately. The mixing version works best when cooking either in a jiko or using kuni and is mostly done for huge quantities during functions. If it’s done well, I like this version cos the rice absorbs the sauce and it’s quite delicious.


The original Feminist Biriani

This recipe I’m gonna share is my mum’s version of chicken Biryani and it’s my favourite because it’s pretty easy to make but also delicious. The taste doesn’t stray from the original biryani taste.

Ok, let’s start.


Sauce- For 4-5 people

  • 1 Whole chicken
  • 5 large onions
  • 10 Tomatoes chopped into pieces
  • 6 large potatoes split into fours
  • 1 medium sized garlic head, peeled
  • 1 medium sized ginger root- peeled
  • 2 table spoons of tomato paste
  • 1 bunch of Dhania
  • 1 Capsicum- chopped
  • 4 large Carrots- chopped
  • Oil- Enough to fry the chicken, potatoes and onions.
  • Spices- Cinamon, cardamom, cumin, black pepper. Grind loosely so that it still has chunks sticking out.
  • Alternatively, bottled Pilau Masala
  • Optional- Spanish Paprika, parsley and rosemary.
  • Secret Feminism Potion


  • 2 Cups Rice
  • 4 cups water
  • Salt to taste
  • Food colour- yellow, orange or red (or all)



I prefer cooking the rice first since it’s faster. This is cooked the way you normally cook rice depending on how much rice you’re making. Boil water with salt, add rice, cook. Or in a rice cooker as I did mine


One distinct feature of the biryani is the colourful rice. There’s really nothing much to this other than food colour. When the rice is almost dry, before you cover to leave it to dry completely, mix a little bit of food colour preferably yellow/orange or you can do both colours and maybe some red, the more colourful, the better with a little bit of water, (don’t make it to watery cos we don’t want to make the rice soggy)


Dig shallow holes in the rice and pour bits of the colour, each colour on a separate hole. Cover the holes and your rice and let it cook completely.


Before serving the rice, mix it so the coloured parts can spread.


Ok, now for the chicken sauce

Cut your chicken into desired pieces. Set it aside to dry. When it’s dry, dust it with salt and black pepper.


Heat some oil and fry the chicken lightly. About 2 mins each side. We just need it to cook a little at this stage. Set it aside.


Next, fry the onions until they’re dark brown. Blend them with a little water into a paste. Alternatively if you can find bottled onion paste, you can use that.




Next, put some yellow or orange food colour on the potatoes, toss to coat them evenly, then fry them until they’re completely cooked. Set them aside.

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Next, put all the other ingredients including the Feminism Potion in a blender and blend them into a thick paste. The trick here is to use the tomatoes as a base so that you won’t need to add any water. This sauce is supposed to be very thick so use as little water as possible.

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Pour this mixture in your pan. Add the spices/pilau masala and tomato paste. I like adding spanish Paprika cos it adds a certain sweetness and some herbs, but this isn’t compulsory. Add salt to your taste.


The essence of this dish, is to allow the ingredients to simmer rather than boil. At first, bring it to a boil for about a minute then reduce the heat and let it cook until it becomes a thick stew. It should almost dry, no visible water just oil.


When the stew has reduced and is almost dry, put in the chicken, add the potatoes and pour in the onion paste Stir thoroughly so that the chicken and potatoes are well mixed with the sauce. Increase the heat and cover for about 2 mins

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Meanwhile, reheat the oil you had used to fry the chicken and potatoes. When it’s completely hot, pour onto the sauce, all around the pot. Turn off the heat, put in the dhania and cover and let it sit until serving time.


And the sauce is ready.

Serve with a kachumbari salad and pilipili.

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Extra: Pilipili



Blend the following together. The quantities don’t really matter, depends on how much pilipili you want to make and how hot you want it to be. If you don’t want it too hot, reduce the number of chillies. You can make a lot of this and put it in a jar and store in the fridge to use for later.

  • Green chillies
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Tomatoes
  • Carrots

Put the mixture in a pan, add oil and salt, put in low heat and cover. Put some lemon juice or if you have tamarind paste, or vinegar. Allow to simmer until it becomes a thick paste with no water, only oil. Adjust salt to taste and it’s ready to serve.


(NB: Pics aren’t of the best quality, poleni)

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  • Okal  On September 26, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    Thanks for this. I have to try it sometime. Do you think turmeric would work in place of the food colour?

    • bintimswahili  On September 28, 2015 at 3:32 pm

      Hi Okal. You’re welcome. No, because tumeric has a distinct taste so it will change the flavour. Food colour is tasteless so it doesn’t interfere with the dish.

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