Serves 6


2 USA turkey legs, 1.3–1.5 kg, cut into thigh
and drumstick

2 tsp fine salt
135 g natural yogurt
30 g grated ginger
30 g grated garlic
10 g meat curry powder
10 g biryani masala powder

Saffron Milk
60 ml milk
15 saffron strands

550 g long grained, aged basmati rice
1000 ml water

Biryani masala paste
70 g ghee or clarified butter
300–350 g red onions, thinly sliced half moons
5 whole black peppercorns
4 cloves
4 green cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick, about 2 inches
2 green chilies, slit horizontally
200 g tomato, roughly chopped
10 g mint leaves, roughly chopped
10 g coriander leaves, roughly chopped
1200 ml low sodium chicken stock
1 tsp garam masala powder

125 g dried cranberries or raisins
70 g cashews, halved
Fried onions
Handful of mint leaves


  1. In a bowl, mix the marinade ingredients. Keep aside ½ of the marinade.
  2. Make 2 deep slashes on each turkey thigh and drumstick and massage the remaining marinade onto each turkey piece. Marinate overnight or for at least 4 hours in an airtight container in the fridge.
  3. Before cooking, remove the marinated turkey from the fridge for at least 1 hour and bring to room temperature.
  4. In a small saucepan, bring milk to a simmer, switch off the stove and add all the saffron strands. Set aside for the saffron to bloom.
  5. In a large bowl, wash the rice until water runs clear. Cover completely with all the water and soak for 20 mins. Drain completely with a colander.
  6. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the marinated turkey pieces on a baking tray and bake for 20 mins or until internal temperature is 60-65°C. Remove from oven and set aside.
  7. While the turkey is in the oven, heat a large, thick-bottom, oven proof pot on medium heat. To make the biryani masala paste, add ghee to the warm pot. Once the ghee melts, add the sliced onions and fry until deep golden brown. Remove the fried onions immediately with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate lined with
    kitchen paper.
  8. In the same pot with the remaining ghee, add whole black peppercorns, cloves, green cardamoms and cinnamon. Sauté for 30 seconds with a wooden spoon until aromatic.
  9. Add marinade that was set aside the previous day and add the green chilies, chopped tomatoes, chopped mint and coriander leaves. Sauté until oil separates from the side and tomatoes are very mushy. Add ¾ of the fried onions from earlier and all the garam masala to the biryani masala paste.
  10. Add drained rice to the pot and all the low sodium chicken stock. Gently stir to coat rice grains evenly in the biryani masala paste and bring the mixture to a simmer. Season to taste and add salt as needed. The mixture should be slightly salty.
  11. Arrange partially cooked turkey pieces on top of the rice including the turkey roasting juices from the baking tray. Cover the pot with lid and bake in the oven for another 20-25 mins, or until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice grains start to point upwards.
  12. Remove the pot from the oven. Remove the lid and quickly drizzle saffron milk on top. Cover with lid again and let the pot stand covered for another 20 mins.
  13. Remove the lid. Carefully remove and place the cooked turkey onto a serving tray. Using a fork or a rice paddle, gently scoop and fluff up the rice from the sides of the pot. If the rice grains break, let the pot stand uncovered for another 10 mins and gently fluff up the rice grains to evenly coat with the masala. Scoop the rice onto the serving tray.
  14. In a small saucepan on low flame, heat 1 tbsp of ghee and fry the cashews until golden. Scoop the fried cashews onto a plate lined with kitchen paper. Next, fry cranberries for 5 secs and remove.
  15. Sprinkle additional mint, fried cashews and cranberries and remaining fried onions on to the Turkey Biryani. Serve immediately while warm. A side of cucumber or onion raita and fried appalams would be perfect accompaniments.