Finger-Licking Good: Spicy Turkey Biryani Recipe!

As someone who has always loved experimenting with flavors, I believe that the best dish is the one that packs a punch. And what could be better than a fragrant and flavorsome turkey biryani recipe to share with your loved ones?

Biryani, which originated in India, is a dish that has been adopted and adapted by people all over the world. It’s a feast for both the eyes and stomach, with each bite revealing layers of aromatic spices and tender meat or vegetables. This turkey biryani recipe gives a delicious spin on this classic dish by incorporating leftover roast turkey into the mix.

During festive occasions like Thanksgiving or Christmas, it’s inevitable to have some leftover turkey. Whether you’re looking for a quick lunch or dinner idea or planning a way to use leftover turkey, this biryani recipe is an excellent choice. It’s perfect for anyone looking to add some variety to their weekly meal plan and fill up their belly with a hearty meal.

The aroma of basmati rice simmering together with whole spices like cardamom, cloves, cinnamon along with ginger-garlic paste is something that can make your taste buds sing praises of this culinary masterpiece. The recipe ingredients along with biryani masala make up the essence of this delicious Vaan Kozhi Biryani (turkey biryani).

So whip up this deliciously simple but flavorsome turley biryani recipe for dinner tonight and transport yourself to an exotic land of mixed aromas and flavors!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Turkey Biryani
Turkey Biryani

Are you a fan of turkey biryani? Then you’re in for a real treat with my famous turkey biryani recipe, which is sure to delight and satisfy your taste buds with its tantalizing blend of spices and herbs. This dish is guaranteed to become an instant favorite, and here’s why:

Firstly, the aromatic blend of whole spices such as cloves, black peppercorns, cinnamon stick, and green cardamom pods creates an intoxicating aroma that will fill your kitchen and has everyone salivating in anticipation. The basmati rice we use as a base in this recipe is infused with saffron strands and rose water, adding a touch of luxury and flavor.

Secondly, the rich flavor profile of chopped tomatoes and curry paste combined with the subtle sweetness of raisins and cashew nuts creates a unique taste that sets this turkey biryani recipe apart from others.

Thirdly, leftovers are never dull or boring when it comes to my turkey biryani recipe. Carryover roasted turkey meat is transformed into an indulgent meal with just a sweet onion sauté, turmeric, and garam masala spices. Everything can be put together within 40 minutes on your stovetop, meaning less time cooking and more time to enjoy a delicious meal.

With all these reasons to love my turkey biryani recipe – not forgetting its hearty servings – there’s no question why it has been a favorite for years. Don’t wait any longer; try this recipe today to experience the delicious spin of classic biryani!

Ingredient List

 A colorful array of fragrant spices and fluffy rice awaits you.
A colorful array of fragrant spices and fluffy rice awaits you.

Here are all the ingredients you’ll need for my Turkey Biryani Recipe:

For the Rice:

  • 2 cups Basmati rice, rinsed and drained
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons oil (use vegetable or canola oil)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 2 cloves

For the Turkey:

  • 1lb leftover turkey or ground turkey
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 large onions, finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp chili powder (or more if you like it spicy)
  • 2 tbsp biryani curry paste
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 4 tbsp raisins
  • 4 tbsp cashew nuts

Garam Masala Mixture:

(This is a mixture of whole spices used to add flavor to your biryani dish.)
– 1 cinnamon stick
– 5 green cardamom pods
– 5 cloves

The Recipe How-To

 A true feast for the senses, this Turkey Biryani is sure to impress.
A true feast for the senses, this Turkey Biryani is sure to impress.

Time to Cook!

Now that we have our ingredients, it’s time to cook my turkey biryani recipe. You will need a heavy-based pot with a tight-fitting lid (make sure it’s oven-safe too) for this step-by-step process.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat in your pot.

  3. Cook 3 large sliced onions, stirring occasionally, for 6-7 minutes or until golden brown and caramelized.

  4. Add the following spices to the pot: 2 finely chopped cloves garlic, 1 tsp turmeric powder, ½ tsp chilli powder, and 1 tsp coriander powder. Stir continuously and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant.

  5. Add 4 cups of cooked turkey meat (or any leftover turkey) to the pot and combine with the onion and spice mix.

  6. Stir in 1 cup of chopped tomatoes, 1/4 cup of raisins, and 1/4 cup of chopped cashew nuts until well combined.

  7. Mix in 2 3/4 cups of basmati rice (previously rinsed under cold water until the water is clear).

  8. Pour 4 cups of boiling water over the rice mixture and season with salt to taste.

  9. Add 1 cinnamon stick, 4 cloves, 4 black peppercorns, 5 green cardamom pods, and saffron strands soaked in rose water (about a tablespoon) into the pot.

  10. Bring everything to a simmer then tightly cover with foil then place the lid on top, leaving no room for steam to escape.

  11. Bake in the oven for about 45-50 minutes or until the rice is tender, and most of the liquid has been absorbed by it.

  12. Finally, let it sit for about 10 minutes. While waiting, scatter some fresh cilantro leaves over for fresh aroma as you serve it with sides or any Indian inspired appetizers – like Popadoms or Naan bread!

There you go! My turkey biryani recipe is now ready to be served as a main course during family dinners or lunch gatherings with your friends!

Substitutions and Variations

 Perfectly cooked Basmati rice and tender turkey mingle together beautifully.
Perfectly cooked Basmati rice and tender turkey mingle together beautifully.

If you’re looking to switch things up with your turkey biryani recipe, there are plenty of substitutions and variations you can try.

Firstly, if you don’t have all the whole spices on hand or you’re short on time, you can use ground spices instead. Use 1 tablespoon of garam masala, 1 teaspoon of ground cloves, and 2 teaspoons of ground black pepper in place of the whole versions. This will still give your biryani a warm and spicy flavor.

For those who prefer vegetarian options or simply want to avoid meat, you can replace the turkey with ground or cubed paneer cheese. You can also use vegetables like cauliflower, peas, and carrots for a veggie-packed biryani.

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to try something different than traditional basmati rice, try using jeera rice (cumin rice) or seeraga samba rice (a small aromatic rice used in South Indian cooking). These rice variations add a unique flavor and texture to your dish.

For those who prefer a little heat in their meals, add some red chili powder to the biryani before baking it. You can adjust the spiciness level to your liking.

Lastly, for a leftover turkey biryani recipe that’s quick and easy, shred leftover roast turkey meat instead of using turkey breast. This will save you time as well as give your leftover turkey a delicious spin on classic leftovers.

Experiment with these substitutions and variations until you discover your perfect turkey biryani recipe!

Serving and Pairing

 Satisfy your cravings with this hearty and wholesome biryani.
Satisfy your cravings with this hearty and wholesome biryani.

Biryani is a one-pot wonder that is a meal in itself, but it can be perfectly paired with raita, mint chutney or lemon pickle for added flavor. A dollop of yogurt raita or cucumber salad helps to cool down the heat of the spices, making for a refreshing side dish.

A good biryani pairs well with any chilled beverage – either a refreshing soda or an Indian mango lassi will do the trick. For a stronger pairing, opt for a bold red wine or even a full-bodied beer.

When serving turkey biryani, I like to garnish it with fried onions and fresh coriander leaves, which add texture and freshness to the dish. You can also serve it with boiled eggs, which are often served alongside biryani in India.

This hearty and flavorful biryani can work as a main course for dinner parties or just as an indulgent midweek meal. It’s perfect for feeding a crowd and is guaranteed to make any dinner party or family occasion special. So grab a plate and dig in!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 A mouth-watering mixture of savory spices and succulent turkey.
A mouth-watering mixture of savory spices and succulent turkey.

A key advantage of making turkey biryani is that it can be prepared well in advance or stored as leftovers for a quick meal later. If you’re planning to make it ahead, make sure the rice and curry are completely cool before storing them in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator.

The turmeric-infused basmati rice and well-seasoned turkey should last two to three days in the refrigerator, allowing you to enjoy it just as much the next day. Make sure to reheat the curry before pouring it onto the rice, to ensure that it’s evenly heated all throughout. A lightly oiled pan or wok is ideal for reheating, and always remember to add a modest amount of water or stock to help prevent drying out or sticking to the bottom.

If you happen to have any remaining turkey biryani after a day or two, consider giving it an exciting tune-up by adding toppings such as cashew nuts, raisins or even boiled egg slices just before reheating for that extra succulent finish.

A good option on hectic weeknights is cooking extra portions of turkey meat over the weekend and storing them in meal-sized tupperware containers for later use in your next turkey biryani creation. Alternately, ground turkey can also be used as a substitute for leftover roast turkey when trying out this recipe – offering an amazing alternative while still retaining its taste and texture!

Above all though, do remember not to keep refrigerated biryani stored for too long, and if it has been sitting around for several days discard small amounts of questionable leftovers that could spoil your dinner experience.

Tips for Perfect Results

 This dish is a crowd-pleaser that is sure to impress.
This dish is a crowd-pleaser that is sure to impress.

To ensure that your turkey biryani is perfectly cooked, here are some tips to keep in mind.

First and foremost, use high-quality ingredients – this can make all the difference in the final taste of your dish! Be sure to choose fresh, aromatic spices such as saffron strands, cloves, black peppercorns, and green cardamom pods for maximum flavor.

When cooking the basmati rice, make sure to rinse it thoroughly to remove any excess starch. Soak the rice in water for at least 30 minutes before cooking to help it absorb more moisture and cook evenly. For best results, use a heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid, and cook the rice on low heat until it is tender but not mushy.

For an extra layer of flavor, try adding a splash of rose water or a couple of drops of kewra water just before adding the rice to the pan. This will infuse your biryani with a delicious floral aroma that pairs perfectly with the savory spices and tender chunks of turkey meat.

To prevent burning or sticking, make sure to keep an eye on your biryani as it cooks. It’s important to stir it occasionally and add more liquid if necessary – this will help keep the rice from becoming dry or overly crispy.

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment with different variations on this classic recipe. Try using ground turkey instead of leftover roast turkey for a different texture, or swap out coriander powder for curry paste for a spicier kick. With these tips and tricks, you’re sure to create a perfect turkey biryani every time!


As with any recipe, it’s natural to have questions and concerns before starting. Below are some frequently asked questions that can help you make the perfect turkey biryani. Whether you’re looking for ingredient substitutions or trying to save leftovers, these tips will help you make this dish a flavorful and aromatic success.

What is the secret ingredient for biryani?

One essential element in preparing Biryani is the addition of fried onions. Begin by slicing the onions and browning them in a non-stick pan using oil over medium heat. It’s crucial to fry them until they become a deep golden brown shade, but they don’t need to be overly crispy. This will not only provide the dish with an authentic flavor but also enhance its visual appeal with a pleasant color.

What is the secret of biryani taste?

There’s nothing quite like the rich and aromatic flavors of biryani rice. Achieving this can be done by boiling rice in a large pot of salted water with a blend of whole spices such as cumin, cardamom, pepper, and bay leaf. As you stir the mixture, the water will gradually take on a new hue, signaling that it’s ready to cook the rice.

What is the Turkish name of biryani?

I am excited to reveal our family’s go-to recipe for Vaan Kozhi (Turkey) Biryani. This dish has become a beloved tradition, especially during Christmas breakfast, where we indulge in hearty servings of aapam/idli/dosa accompanied by mutton curry.

Is biryani a Turkish food?

Biryani is a delicious dish that comes from the Indian subcontinent and is popular among the Muslim population. It typically consists of a delightful blend of rice, flavorful Indian spices, and various meats, such as chicken, beef, goat, lamb, prawn, and fish. In some instances, it is also made without any meat and can include the addition of eggs and potatoes.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, after preparing and indulging in this sumptuous turkey biryani recipe, it has become explicitly clear as to why this dish is a staple in South Asian cuisine. The fact that it’s simple and easy to prepare with the right ingredients makes it perfect for dinner or lunch. It’s also versatile and adaptable to different preferences, whether you want to use leftover turkey meat or ground turkey instead.

The combination of whole spices, aromatic flavors from basmati rice, and the creaminess of cashew nuts, raisins, and saffron strands make this dish stand out from all others. So if you’re looking to add a twist to your rice dish, why not give this recipe a chance? You won’t regret it!

Don’t forget that you can store this recipe in the fridge or freezer for later consumption. Preparing turkey biryani in advance will ensure that you always have quality home-cooked meals ready and waiting. You can even try some of the variations like chicken biryani, mutton biryani or vaan kozhi biryani for a different taste altogether.

In conclusion, I hope these tips and instructions help you create an excellent turkey biryani recipe that will become one of your signature dishes. Not only is it mouthwatering and delicious, but it’s also nutritious and filling. Try it out today, impress your family and guests, and take them on an unforgettable culinary journey!

Turkey Biryani

Turkey Biryani Recipe

This is a recipe that I have found in 'Waitrose Seasons' free magazine (Christmas 05). It is a very good recipe for using leftovers, which is always useful with the Christmas turkey.
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Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Calories 489.9 kcal


  • 5 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 3 large onions, finely sliced
  • 50 g shelled whole cashew nuts
  • 25 g raisins
  • 2 tablespoons curry paste
  • 400 g cooked turkey or 400 g cooked chicken, cut into cubes
  • 690 g chopped tomatoes or 690 g passata
  • 250 g basmati rice
  • 3 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 pinch saffron strand
  • 3 -5 drops rose water


  • Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish.
  • Add one thrid of the onions and fry for 3-4 minutes until they start to brown.
  • Add the cashew nuts and fry for a further 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove the onions and nuts with a slotted spoon, mix withthe raisins and leave until required.
  • Lower the heat add a further 1 tbs oil and cook the remaining onions with the curry paste in the pan, covered, for about 10 minutes, until the onions are very soft.
  • Add the turkey and stir-fry for a further 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and simmer, covered for 15 minutes.
  • Wash the rice in a sieve until the water runs clear and drain thoroughly.
  • Heat the remaining oil in a wide saucepan with a lid, add the spices, except for the saffron and cook for a few seconds.
  • Add the washed rice and stir-fry for 3 - 4 minutes.
  • Add 600 ml of boiling water, seasons, and return to the boil.
  • Stir very briefly, then cover and simmer over a moderate heat for 10-12 minutes, until all the water is absorbed.
  • steep the saffron in the rose water with 1 tbsp hot water.
  • Take the turkey off the heat and sason to taste.
  • Scatter one third of the fried onion mixture over the turkey, then top with half the rice.
  • Scatter half of the remaining onions on the top with half of the saffron and rose water.
  • Repeat with the remaining rice, onions, saffron and rose water.
  • Cover the pan with a tightly fitting lid and cook over a very gentle heat for 10 minutes.
  • Alternatively, place in a hot oven at 200 degrees centigrade (gas mark 6) for 6 - 10 minutes.
  • Serve with roughly chopped fresh coriander.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 324gCalories: 489.9kcalCarbohydrates: 52.7gProtein: 26.1gFat: 20.1gSaturated Fat: 4.1gCholesterol: 50.7mgSodium: 134.5mgFiber: 4.4gSugar: 11.1g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Asian, Curries, Indian, Meat, Poultry, Rice
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