Quinoa Chicken Biryani in Instapot

A streamlined, healthy, one pot, weeknight meal packed with protein! Instapot recipe!

Best Indian fusion recipe for protein packed, one pot meal for weeknights.
Quinoa Chicken Biryani in Instapot

I have a question for all you foodies. When you set out on a fun trip, is food the first thing on your mind? I have to admit that for us, it is so. And this recipe is inspired by my recent foodie crawl during our 4 day trip to New York City and to New Jersey. Slightly embarrassed by my gluttony, I am sharing only some of the photos here……

#Foodiecrawl around #NYC and in New Jersey show #Shakshuka for breakfast, #simit sandwiches and yogurt parfaits at #Chobani, ramen bowls, steamed bun, biryani, chili idli and dosa
Foodie crawl around NYC and in New Jersey show Shakshuka for breakfast, simit sandwiches and yogurt parfaits, ramen bowls, steamed bun, biryani, chili idli and dosa

We started with a lobster lunch in New England itself…lest we miss our lobsters 🙂 We met friends and family and caught up over delicious Indian and Thai food. In NYC, I loved the simit sandwiches and yogurt lunch at Chobani and the Ramen slurp bowls for dinner. We went to Edison New Jersey, which is like visiting mini India. I had my fill of yummy chat recipes like dabeli, bhel, paav bhaji, dosa and dahi vada.

My recipes for these on Indfused, are the healthy versions, which we enjoy guilt free at home. This foodie crawl was far from healthy, and my guiltiest pleasure was the authentic Hyderabadi Biryani in Edison. It was delicious but, oh so heavy! I am crazy about biryanis, so I wanted to come home and have that same taste with the least amount of oil or ghee, more protein and also a streamlined recipe that is easy to put together even on a week night!

I decided to try a chicken biryani using quinoa instead of rice and making it in the Instapot, imitating a dum recipe. Dum is when the cooking pot is sealed to lock in all flavors. I am very happy with this recipe for a protein packed, one pot, mouthwatering Quinoa Chicken Biryani. The step by step photos show how easy it is to make-

Biryani- a pictorial. Steps from left to right, top to bottom row show how easy Indfused's recipe is.
Step by step Quinoa Chicken Biryani- a pictorial. Steps from left to right, top to bottom row show how easy Indfused’s  Instapot recipe is.

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Quinoa Chicken Biryani in Instapot

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


To marinate the chicken-

  • 1 teaspoon grated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons store bought biryani masala
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • About 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 skinless, boneless, chicken thighs, cut into about 2 inch pieces. ¾ cup chicken pieces

Other ingredients for the biryani-

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 small garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large red onion, sliced thin
  • A pinch of salt
  • 3 plum tomatoes diced finely
  • 1 large fistful of cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 small fist fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • ¾ cup toasted quinoa. I used Kirkland organic quinoa.
  • ¾ cup hot water
  • Additional ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron crushed in 2 tablespoons warm milk (optional)

To make the Quinoa Chicken Biryani-

  1. Combine all ingredients for the marinade, add the chicken pieces and toss to coat. Set aside for at least half an hour while you finish the prep for the biryani or preferably marinate it overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Heat the Instapot on sauté mode. Add the oil, garlic cloves and bay leaf.
  3. Add the sliced onion, stir and sprinkle the pinch of salt. Stir fry until the onion caramelizes. See photo 2 and 3 above.
  4. Add the marinated chicken along with all the marinade. Stir well and spread on the bottom of the Instapot.
  5. Layer the tomatoes, cilantro and mint on top.
  6. Add a layer of the toasted quinoa. See step by step photos above.
  7. Add the ¾ cup water and ½ teaspoon salt. Switch off the Saute mode, close the Instapot and press the rice button.
  8. Quinoa Biryani is ready in 14 minutes!
  9. If using the saffron mixture, open the lid after natural release. Drizzle the saffron mixture in holes poked in the cooked quinoa to distribute the saffron flavor all around the biryani! Yum!


Wishing you a scrumptious weekend! I am looking forward to sharing my foodie adventures and my Quinoa Chicken Biryani with my foodie friends at Angie’s  Fiesta Friday co-hosted by the talented and lovely Suzanne @ apuginthekitchen and Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes.




50 thoughts on “Quinoa Chicken Biryani in Instapot

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    1. Thanks so much Reena! I love Biryani and had to come up with a guilt free recipe to enjoy it often 🙂

    1. Thanks Priyabrata. I am a big fan of biryani too so had to come up with a healthier recipe. Congratulations on your award! Well deserved!

  1. What else can we ask for! Quinoa biryani. Who else could think of it!! Amazing Sandhya👌 Thanks for the idea. Incidentally I posted a quinoa recipe too but quinoa biryani is indeed fusion👌🌟

    1. Ana,
      We both had quinoa on our minds! I love your recipe for the stuffed peppers. I did not know the ‘gender’ differences in the peppers. Good to know. Not sure why this is happening but am unable to like or comment on your blog. So I am doubly glad you wrote to me, my friend.
      For the quinoa biryani, since I had the liquid from the marinade with yogurt, tomatoes and lime juice, 1 :1 ratio of water was enough to cook the quinoa.


      1. Very nice recipe altogether Sandhya. About the comment and like bit a few others have also mentioned it. I guess I need to work this with the wp team. Thank you for letting me know.

      2. Sandhya could you please unfollow and follow my blog. I wonder if that would solve the issue.
        Thanks and regards

      3. 😔Thank you Sandhya. Sorry for the trouble.I reported the issue to WordPress. Hopefully it should get resolved.

    1. Thank you Laura for making me feel better 😉
      In dum recipes, the lid on the cooking pot is sealed with a paste of flour and water, sealing in all the flavors.

      1. Interesting as whenever I slow cook sauces I add my cast iron pot covered with damp baking paper and then the lid into the oven – seems to be achieving the same benefit!

  2. I love biryani, never had with quinoa, it looks and sounds so delicious. Love that its a one pot meal. I don’t have a pressure cooker or Insta pot and never heard of dum cooking before. Brilliant!!

    1. Thanks Rita! I had not seen any quinoa biryani either so decided to give it a try and it tasted amazing.

  3. Since coming across this recipe, I have made it over five times in two months and it never fails to impress with it’s flavors. Thanks to your efforts, I am able to enjoy a healthier version of a dish that I absolutely love. All the best!

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