Pakistani Food Recipes/ Rice

Turkey Biryani – A Delicious Spin on a Classic!

June 13, 2017 (Last Updated: December 26, 2018)
turkey biryani
turkey biryani

There are few things in life that are as soul satisfying as a masala-licious biryani. You know what I am talking about – the kind of biryani where you can see the gravy clinging to delicate long strands of rice, wrapping themselves around flavorful spuds and permeating the meat. At the end of long Ramadan fasts all I want is for someone to make it and for me to eat it. With lots of raita, of course. This beauty over here, right down below, is extra delicious. Want to know why (Hint: read the title). Because it is made with Canadian Turkey meat which cooks to tender delicious perfection in this gravy. This Turkey Biryani made its first appearance at our Ramadan table this year, but Turkey Biryani, my new friend, it shall not be your last. 

turkey biryani

I have biryani-ed here a few times before and I am pumped about it each and every time. When the opportunity to be part of this exciting campaign to discuss the benefits of Canadian Turkey came up I knew exactly what kind of biryani I wanted this to be. My usual biryanis rely on tomatoes for flavor, but this time I wanted to marinate the turkey in a yogurt mix and let caramelized onions bring their rich brothy flavor to the Turkey Biryani. I wound up adding a tomato, but should you not have one feel free to skip it. Rest assured that this Turkey Biryani will still turn out yummy.

Some of you are probably wondering what the meat itself tastes like. I’ll be honest it tastes like a more delicious chicken. Honestly, it is really that simple. It took a little longer to cook than chicken does, but is quicker than any of the red meats. It is also a nutritional powerhouse as it is high in protein & contains iron, zinc and selenium which will help restore your energy. Now if you feel sluggish because you over ate since this Turkey Biryani is delicious then well… let’s say I won’t blame you 🙂 Bonus: if you have friends & family who don’t eat red meat for health or religious reasons, then turkey is a delicious alternative at the iftar or dinner table. 

turkey biryani


Before this I hadn’t cooked Canadian Turkey in a desi dish and now that I have I realize just how simple it would be – ground turkey would be amazing in chapli kababs or a “matar qeema” (peas & ground meat). Turkey breast can be used to nutritious effect in curries and karahis with tweaked cooking times. It is incredibly exciting that what I think  of as a Thanksgiving bird is now on my desi table. 

In my research on Turkey Biryani I learnt that it is a festive delicacy in certain parts of India. There they make it to celebrate Diwali. My family hails from Pakistan where Turkey isn’t readily available. However, I love the idea that  a new festive favourite for us has long been part of another kind of South Asian cuisine. I know, I am a bit sentimental. Now excuse me while I contemplate food past and present over a delicious plate of Turkey Biryani . The recipe is right here so you can too!turkey biryani

5 from 1 vote
turkey biryani
Turkey Biryani
A biryani made with Canadian Turkey with a rice spice base that is finger licking good!
Servings: 6
Author: Sarah Mir
Turkey Marinade
  • 1 pound turkey breast cubed into 1 ½ - 2 inch pieces
  • ½ tsp crushed ginger
  • ½ tsp crushed garlic
  • ¾ cup yogurt
  • 3 diced green chillies
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder cayenne
  • 3 ½ cup Basmati Rice
  • Salt
  • Bay Leaf
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 2 large or 3 medium onions sliced
  • Whole spices – 5-6 black peppercorns 4-5 cloves, 2-3 black cardamom, 2 inch stick of cinnamon, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 nutmeg broken into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon crushed ginger
  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • 1.5 teaspoons red chilli powder
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • ½ tsp crushed chilli flakes
  • 1/3 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 6-7 dried plums see notes!
  • 1 to mato diced optional
  • 2 potatoes peeled & sliced into 1 cm rounds
  • Oil for cooking
For layering
  • ½ cup mint leaves
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • Yellow food coloring powder
  • Kewra rosewater essence
  1. - Mix the ingredients for the marinade in a medium sized bowl, add the turkey pieces and stir to coat well. Marinating overnight is best but do what you can. Before cooking put your marinated turkey out to bring to room temperature
  2. - Soak the rice and set aside
  3. - Heat a generous amount of oil in a heavy bottomed pot and add the whole spices.
  4. - When they start to splutter and give of a heady aroma then add the onions
  5. - Caramelize the onions on medium heat, watching carefully to make sure they don’t burn
  6. - Turn the heat down a little and add the ginger and garlic, sauté for a minute
  7. - Now put in all the spices (chilli powder, chilli flakes, coriander powder, turmeric, salt) and cook for another minute or so
  8. - Sauté the tomato with the spice base until softened
  9. - In goes your turkey. Turn the heat up and cook stirring frequently until you can no longer see any raw patches
  10. - Add the dried plums + a cup of hot water and simmer for about 25-30 minutes.
  11. - While the turkey is cooking bring a pot of water to boil with the bay leaf and vinegar. Season generously with salt
  12. - When the water boils add the rice & cook until it is al dente. Drain and set aside.
  13. - After 25-30 minutes the turkey should be cooked through, but not quite tender.
  14. - Now in go your sliced potatoes, give the masala a good stir, add more water if needed and cook for another 20 minutes
  15. - Once the potatoes are tender then crank up the heat and make sure you cook the masala so that the oil rises above the spice base. Excess water makes for a soggy biryani!
  16. - You can tip the dish a little to drain extra oil at this point (I always do).
  17. - Layer half the cooked rice on the bottom of a large wide pot, followed by the turkey masala, the mint and cilantro leaves and the remaining rice.
  18. - Scatter the yellow powder on top along with a few drops of kewra water and leave on low for 20 minutes.
  19. - Take a wide spoon or a small plate and fold the rice and masala over each other.
  20. - Serve with raita!
Recipe Notes

Notes: Aaloo Bukharay or Dried Plums give biryanis their trademark tang. However, if you don’t have any handy simply squeeze the juice of a lemon over the turkey masala when its done!

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Canadian Turkey . While I received compensation for writing this post, the love of Turkey Biryani is all my own. If you’re looking for more Turkey tips, tricks and recipes check them out! #TryTurkeyToday #CanadianTurkey


You Might Also Like