How to Make Biriyani

How’s self-isolation going for everyone? At the beginning, did anyone promise themselves they’d learn how to cook and then just… never did? While there’s nothing wrong with ordering delivery or takeout (in fact, I encourage you to do so and support local small businesses!), or just eating junk food 24/7 (it’s a pandemic, you can eat as much junk as you want), this is an excellent time to develop a good skill – and maybe get in touch with your Asian roots. Back in the day, before I founded Overachiever Magazine, I used to have a food blog – every Friday I’ll be posting an Asian recipe from there, and what better place to start than biriyani?


You know, sometimes I lose sight of the bigger picture. I’ve been trying to make perfect biriyani for years- every time, I make it with a different combination of spices, different type of oil, with vegetables, with chicken, with herbs- I’ve tried everything. Everything except using different rice. See, when I was little, my mom exclusively used basmati rice. Then, ingrate that I am, I started wanting sticky rice all the time. So my mom stopped buying 10-pound bags of Basmati, and started buying regular, short grain rice. Fast forward 10 or so years, I’m a food snob (and a closet Shake Shack fan. They have good cheese fries, okay?), and I demand basmati. While carrying previously mentioned 10 pound bag of rice to the checkout, I had a breakthrough- I wasn’t using the wrong ratio of turmeric to cumin, I was using the wrong type of rice! Ok, so that’s a lie. I was on the ground in the fetal position, scrolling through recipes on Pinterest (I spend several hours in a day doing this. And I spend my several other waking hours complaining about how much work I have to do), and I saw a picture of biriyani- made with basmati. Then I ferreted out the one, tiny bag of basmati we had, and I made biriyani. And it was worth it.


1/2 cup basmati rice (you can certainly use more, this was just all I had on hand)

2 inch piece of ginger

6 cloves garlic

2 teaspoons turmeric

1 teaspoon cumin (ground or whole)

1/2 teaspoon peppercorns

2 teaspoons red chili flakes (use 1 teaspoon if you’re a wimp)

2 black cardamom pods (biting into a whole cardamom pod- and subsequently gagging and spitting it out- is part of the biriyani experience)

2 tablespoons oil


Start by cooking the rice. I should mention, this kind of makes the whole 10 minute thing moot. I just like clickbait titles. While the rice is cooking, peel the ginger and garlic, and crush them up together in a mortar and pestle. You could certainly use ginger-garlic paste from the store, but I personally consider it beneath me. I won’t judge you if you use it, though*. Saute the ginger and garlic with 1 tablespoon oil,


and then throw in the spices. Let that cook til the cardamom gets puffy, and then fluff the rice with a fork


and toss that in. IMPORTANT: Let the rice cool slightly before throwing it in, otherwise the rice will break, the biriyani will be mushy, and it’ll all be for naught. We can’t have that. Once the rice has cooled, add in 1 tablespoon more oil, and some salt. Stir it all around on high heat for 2 minutes,


and serve it hot!


Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.

Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.

We have grown since then, putting out bimonthly issues (we are contributor powered: apply to write for our next one!), and weekly reviews of culture, and news that is important to us.

You can find announcements, more news, and get to know our staff on social media: give us a follow, and learn how you can get involved today!

We do not claim to speak for all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. We are just here to give them a place to speak for themselves.

We hope you’ll join us.

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