Chicken Biriyani

Ashwin is now 7.5 months old and he is growing fast. He has started crawling, standing up and squeals with delight when he sees us after his nap or when R comes home from work.  While everyone is happy for us, they are also concerned about our, “open adoption”. I decided to talk about it a little bit. A few questions we get asked

1.       Do you “have” to keep in touch with Ashwin’s birth family?

Yes, that is a choice we made. In our opinion, Ashwin needs to know where he came from. And it is only healthy that we talk about it openly.

2.       Are you not uncomfortable when they meet Ashwin?

Absolutely not.  We are happy that Ashwin gets to meet them, while he may not understand it now. He will cherish the pictures and memories we have for him. His birth parents have given us a blessing, why should we be uncomfortable?

3.       Is all this good for Ashwin?

We are doing what we think is best for him. Only time will tell, but from the research we have done, we think it is good for him.

4.       So who are his parents? Where are they from?

While we say open adoption, it means open among us – Ashwin, us and his birth parents. We want to respect their privacy.

This was the analogy I gave my friend when I was explaining about open adoption.  When we tell a child, don’t go into that room or don’t touch that- the child only wants to touch or go into that room more than he ever wanted. But if you let the child into the room or touch a particular object, his curiosity is satiated and he will not sneak behind your back to see what is in that room. That is exactly how adoption is. If you want to keep his birth parents info from him, he will wonder why and want to know more. It is his right to know about them, Period!

Every adoption situation is unique and we have been extremely lucky that we are able to have this open relationship.

Now what does all this have to do with Chicken Biriyani? This is what I cooked when Ashwin’s birth father came to visit. It was a success I think. It definitely was on the spicy side. If you are looking for a quick recipe, you should stop reading further on. This is time consuming, but well worth the effort. You know what, make an extra batch and freeze it.


Chicken  thighs – 1 lb ( can be boneless or with bone in) cut into 1-2 inch bite size pieces

To grind

Cilantro – ¼ cup, roughly chopped

Ginger – 1 T, minced

Garlic – 4-5 pods

Yogurt – 1/3 cup

Cloves – 1

Green Cardamom – 4

Green chillies – 4 (Serrano or thai)

Salt to taste


Basamati rice– 2 cups

Cardamom – 3

Star Anise – 1

Cinnamon – 1 inch stick

Cloves – 3

Saffron – 1 tsp

Milk – ¼ cup ( warm)


Oil – 3 T + 2 T

Red onions – 2, thinly sliced

Cashew nuts – 2 T

Bay Leaf – 1

Cilantro – 2 T, chopped

Mint – ½ cup

Fennel seeds  1 tsp

Garam Masala – 1 tsp

Tomato paste – 3 T

Salt – to taste

  • Grind all the items marked, ‘to grind” to a smooth paste and add it to the chicken. Let it marinate for at least an hour to overnight in the refrigerator. Easy tip : add everything in a zip lock freezer bag, and it’s easy to mix without making a mess
  • Heat oil in a sauté pan and cook until the onions are caramelized. Cook it on medium low.
  • Add rest of the ingredients and sauté for a minute or two on medium low and set aside.
  • While the onions are cooking, cook the rice
  • Heat a large pot with water and when the water comes to a boil add whole spices and rice. Cook until the rice is done. ( cook rice like you cook pasta)
  • Drain all water and set the rice aside with the whole spices.
  • Heat 2 T of oil in a Dutch oven or a heavy bottomed pan with a lid
  • Sauté the marinated chicken until it is almost done. Transfer the chicken to a plate, leaving a little bit on the bottom
  • Add a layer of cooked rice and over it the onion mixture, repeat until all the chicken, onion and mixture and rice is over.
  • Add saffron to the warm and slowly drizzle that over the rice
  • Cover the pan with a moist towel and then cover with a lid and cook on very low heat for 20 minutes
  • Serve warm with raitha
7 years ago


  1. I agree with you wholeheartedly, of course! We are all exceptionally lucky to have extra people in our children’s lives who care about them. They aren’t there to take them from us; WE are the parents. When they’re older and naturally have questions, there will be available resources in the birthparents. It’s not easy opening your life to someone who seems like a challenge to your place in your child’s life, but it’s such a gift for everyone when it works out well. We can honor the birthparents by continuing to know them and allowing them to share our love for our children.

    Thanks for putting this out there, Shankari and Rajesh!

    1. I am so glad you agree with me on this. We had a lot of people friends, strangers ask how comfortable we are with open adoption and decided I pen down my thoughts here.

  2. I know I’ve probably asked you all those questions 🙂 I whole heartedly agree with you, as he grows up Ashwin will know all his family and that can only be good for him. I think you truly have been blessed to have such good birth parents and the relationship you have with them.
    As for your Biriyani, I already know how awesome that is.

  3. beautifully said shankari!
    as ever, well thought thru. decision.
    with your upbringing, i feel Ashwin will grow up to appreciate your choice.

  4. Oh! You got to meet Ashwin’s birth father, too. That’s great.

    Already have heard your wonderful stories about the birth mother, a seemingly incredible person with clear ideas on what her motivations and intent were.

    Ashwin’s a blessing all round. I can completely understand what an HONOR it was for his birthparents to be the conduit of such a bright joyous being being brought into your lives. Pure seva. Makes me smile.

  5. your posts about ashwin just make me so emotional. I dont know who is luckier here – rajesh and you for having such a wonderful blessing or ashwin for having the best parents in the world or the birth parents who choose you to give the best set of parenting for Ashwin.

    Wishing all of you the happiness forever Shanks. I am sure your parents are very proud of you –

  6. Shankari,
    It is always great to know about Ashwin and hear how he is doing. You always say how lucky you are to have Ashwin I bet it is the same other way around. The birth parents are indeed very lucky to have you and Rajesh in their lives.

    As for the biryani I make it slightly different and always on the lookout for new ways to make them.

  7. OMG….I love that baby! I love whatever you cook…and remind me what you made today? BTW…I think you should teach people how to drink beverages..”the Indian Way”. I am still so impressed!

    You and Raj are such good parents..and Ashwin is a total delight.

  8. Fantastic, Shankari. I’m a stranger who lucked upon your site. You both have integrity and understand the true meaning of love. May all of you have a sunshiny life.

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