For Indians, chicken biryani is not just another meal; it’s an emotion for them. It is a royal dish that stars in most Indian celebrations.
The layers of basmati rice are immersed in beautiful spice and cooked to the perfection we all appreciate, as its grains are always intact, with juicy, tender chicken coated with that spicy goodness and finished off with a saffron topping. What other way do you describe royalty?
However, as celiacs or individuals with nonceliac gluten sensitivity, a question will always bug our minds: Is chicken biryani gluten free? Here is all you need to know.
What Is Chicken Biryani?
Chicken biryani is a rice dish with roots in either South India or Iran. It is the most popular South Asian dish, with different variations prepared in other countries like Thailand, Iraq, Malaysia, and Myanmar. Chicken biryani is the most ordered food online in India, highlighting its popularity.
This dish is made with chicken, basmati rice, and a blend of spices. It is then prepared by marinating the chicken in spices and yogurt and then cooking it with rice and other ingredients like tomatoes, mint leaves, and onions. Then cashews, raisins, or fried onions are often used as garnishes before being served with salan (gravy) or raita.
There are over 5 variations of chicken biryani, with each region using spices and ingredients peculiar to the region, but one mistake you’ll often make when you start having Indian dishes is to liken chicken biryani to pilaf.
While they are both made with similar ingredients, the pilaf is layered with onions or potatoes at the bottom and cooked for a shorter time, making it lighter than biryani. Also, the biryani is the main dish, while the pilaf accompanies the main dish.
What Does Chicken Biryani Taste Like?
Biryani is a representation of unique cultural flavors—mouth-watering and delicious. Different variations of chicken biryani all have different tastes, but you can expect a mild fragrance with a hot and tangy flavor with a hint of sweetness from the vegetables and cashews (if used).
Is Chicken Biryani Gluten Free?
Chicken biryani is naturally gluten-free. It is made with chicken, cashews, vegetables, spices, and basmati rice, which are all free from gluten, making it safe for individuals with gluten sensitivity. However, gluten could sneak in through marinade; be sure to inquire if soy sauce was used in marinating the chicken.
Just like every other meal we eat outside, the biggest gluten threat comes from cross-contamination: using utensils or countertops used in preparing gluten-containing meals to prepare our meals.
However, that could be at its lowest here as the chicken is not fried, so the risk of having to deep fry the chicken in oil that was used to fry other gluten-containing chicken, like the breaded general tso, is eliminated, which means you’re likely to have a gluten-free experience at restaurants if they observe primary hygiene, but also look out for the fried onion toppings; some restaurants may coat it in wheat to give it extra flavor.
Still, make it a norm to communicate your dietary restrictions to ensure proper care is taken while preparing your food.
What Is In Chicken Biryani?
Here’s a table outlining common ingredients in chicken biryani and whether they typically contain gluten or not:
|Typically gluten-free, but check for additives
|Gluten-free, but pre-packaged spice mixes may contain gluten; check labels
|Ghee (Clarified Butter)
|Generally gluten-free, but it depends on the source
|Gluten-Free Soy Sauce (if used)
|Gluten-free, but traditional soy sauce contains gluten
|Gluten-free if homemade or labeled gluten-free
|Nuts and Raisins
|Gluten-free, but cross-contamination is possible
Is Chicken Biryani Healthy?
Consuming chicken biryani could provide you with numerous benefits, be it butter chicken biryani, chicken dum biryani, chicken tikka biryani, or boneless chicken biryani.
Chicken biryani is packed with proteins, thanks to the chicken and cashew nuts. Chicken possesses selenium, an antioxidant that could make this dish reverse aging. Further, chicken reduces the probability of heart disease and strokes while also boosting the immune system.
The spices used and the preparation method of chicken biryani aid in digestion. Cumming aids the liver to expel bile by quickening the activities of the digestive enzymes and also regulating blood sugar levels. Tumeric is also rich in anti-inflammatory properties and does a great job of averting bloating.
Basmati rice has a lower glycemic index and is a source of fiber, which also aids in digestion. The ginger, onions, and garlic contain selenium, vitamins B6 and C, copper, manganese, and allicin, which are all necessary for proper bodily functions.
Other Chicken Dishes You’ll Love to Try
Chicken tikka masala
There is no way you have been eating Indian cuisine without knowing about chicken tikka masala. This dish consists of a blend of spice, tomato sauce, and tender chicken, which is often spicy. To crown it all, chicken tikka masala is gluten-free.
Jerk chicken is a gluten-free dish that consists of scotch bonnet, thyme, peppers, garlic, citrus fruits, spices, herbs, and vinegar. It is not the easiest chicken dish to put together, but it will surely reward you with its hot, sweet, and tangy taste.
Does Chicken Biryani Contain Gluten? Final Thoughts
The traditional chicken biryani recipe doesn’t contain gluten, making it a healthy meal that celiacs or individuals with gluten sensitivity can enjoy. However, different restaurants may add a signatory ingredient that may contain gluten. Always ensure to communicate your dietary needs to ensure you have a gluten-free dining experience.