10 Best Herbs and Spices for Biryani Rice

Biryani is a beloved Indian dish that combines fragrant rice, tender meat or vegetables, and a medley of aromatic spices.

Its rich and unique flavors have made it popular not only in India but also across the globe.

At the heart of a delicious biryani lies the perfect blend of herbs and spices that bring a depth of taste and aroma to the dish.

If you want to take your biryani rice to the next level, experimenting with the right combination of spices is essential.

Whether you prefer a spicy kick or a milder and aromatic flavor, there are various spices that can elevate your biryani to new heights.

Here, we have compiled a list of the 10 best herbs and spices that are commonly used in biryani rice, guaranteed to tantalize your taste buds and leave you craving for more.

Biryani Rice

Bay Leaves:

Bay leaves are one of the most commonly used spices in biryani rice. They have a distinct flavor profile, combining hints of herbaceousness, bitterness, and floral notes. These leaves add a subtle and earthy aroma to the rice, complementing the other spices perfectly.

When using bay leaves in biryani, it’s important to note that they are usually not eaten, but rather left whole for flavor infusion. Typically, one or two bay leaves are added to the rice while cooking to impart their delightful essence. These leaves are also known for their ability to enhance digestive health and have anti-inflammatory properties.

Cumin Seeds:

Cumin seeds

Cumin seeds are another star ingredient in biryani rice. These tiny, brown seeds are potent and have a warm, nutty, and slightly peppery flavor. When toasted or fried, they release a distinct aroma that heightens the overall taste of the dish.

In biryani, cumin seeds are usually added along with other whole spices at the beginning of the cooking process. They can also be ground into a powder and incorporated into the masala (spice mix) to ensure their flavors are evenly distributed throughout the dish. Cumin seeds are not only known for their culinary uses but also for their potential health benefits, including aiding digestion and improving blood cholesterol levels.

See also  17 Best Herbs and Spices for Pho Soup

Cardamom Pods:

Cardamom pods are treasured for their unique taste and invigorating aroma. These small, green, or black pods contain tiny seeds that hold a combination of sweet, warm, and citrusy flavors. They bring a delightful complexity to biryani rice, elevating its overall taste and fragrance.

To release the full essence of cardamom, it’s recommended to lightly crush the pods before adding them to the dish. This allows the seeds to infuse their fragrance into the rice, imparting a refreshing and aromatic quality. Cardamom is not only revered for its culinary uses but is also believed to have numerous health benefits, including aiding digestion, promoting oral health, and combating inflammation.

Cinnamon Sticks:

Cinnamon sticks are an integral component of biryani rice, providing a warm and slightly sweet flavor profile. These slender and fragile sticks are derived from the bark of various cinnamon tree species and are commonly used in both sweet and savory dishes.

Typically, one or two cinnamon sticks are added to biryani rice during the cooking process. They infuse the rice with a subtle yet distinct warmth and a woody undertone. Cinnamon sticks are known for their potential health benefits, such as improving blood sugar control, reducing inflammation, and protecting against bacterial and fungal infections.


Warm and aromatic, cloves are a key ingredient in biryani rice. These small, dark brown flower buds have a strong and pungent flavor profile with hints of sweetness and astringency. In biryani, cloves are often used in their whole form to lend a powerful and distinctive taste.

When preparing biryani, a few cloves are usually added to the cooking process. They contribute their intense flavors and a warm spiciness to the rice, creating a harmonious balance with other spices. Cloves are not just a culinary delight but also possess antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, making them a valuable addition to any dish.

Coriander Seeds:

Coriander seeds, also known as dhania, are a versatile spice that adds a bright and citrusy flavor to biryani rice. These tiny, round seeds have a delicate yet distinct taste, reminiscent of lemon and parsley. They are often used in powdered form or crushed for their maximum flavor extraction.

In biryani rice, coriander seeds are typically added to the rice along with other whole spices or as part of the spice mix. They infuse the dish with a fresh and tangy zest, enhancing its overall taste profile. Coriander seeds are not only appreciated for their culinary uses but are also rich in antioxidants and may have potential blood sugar-lowering effects.

See also  What Spices Go in Chicken Vegetable Soup? (11 Best Spices)

Fennel Seeds:

Fennel seeds, with their subtle licorice-like flavor, are a beloved addition to biryani rice. These oval-shaped seeds are pale green or yellowish in color and have a mild and slightly sweet taste. They offer a refreshing and delicate aroma that complements the other spices in biryani beautifully.

When cooking biryani, fennel seeds are often added at the beginning to enhance the base flavors. They contribute a gentle background note to the rice, providing a depth that is both comforting and enticing. Fennel seeds are not only prized for their culinary qualities but are also reputed for their potential digestive benefits and antioxidant properties.


Mace is technically the aril (a lace-like covering) that surrounds the nutmeg seed. It has a warm and fragrant flavor akin to a blend of cinnamon and pepper, with hints of citrus and pine. In biryani rice, mace is meticulously added for its unique taste and aroma.

Usually, mace is used in powdered form, as it can be quite tough in its whole form. It is often combined with other spices in the masala or added directly to the rice while cooking. Mace imparts a delightful and slightly floral quality to biryani, enhancing its overall taste experience. Apart from being a culinary delight, mace may offer medicinal properties, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.


Nutmeg, with its warm and subtly sweet flavor, is a beloved spice in biryani rice. This heart-shaped seed is encased in a hard, brown shell and has a rich and creamy taste profile. When used in moderation, nutmeg can greatly enhance the flavors of biryani.

In biryani, nutmeg is typically used in its whole form or as a powder. It is added at various stages of cooking, such as when preparing the marinade or sprinkling it on top of the rice layers. Nutmeg adds a warmth and depth to the dish, complementing the other spices remarkably well. Beyond its culinary uses, nutmeg may have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties.

Star Anise:

Star anise is a strikingly beautiful spice with a strong and distinct flavor reminiscent of licorice and fennel. This star-shaped pod contains several small seeds that hold powerful aromatic qualities. In biryani rice, star anise is used sparingly to impart its bold flavors.

Typically, one or two star anise pods are added during the cooking process, infusing the rice with a subtle anise-like taste. They enhance the overall complexity of the dish, creating a unique and delightful flavor profile. Star anise is renowned for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, making it not only an excellent culinary choice but also a potentially medicinal one.

See also  15 Best Spices for Chicken Casserole (Chicken Casserole Seasoning Guide)


Which spice is used in biryani?

Biryani is made using a combination of various spices. Some common spices used in biryani include bay leaves, cumin seeds, cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, cloves, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, mace, nutmeg, and star anise.

How to get flavor in biryani rice?

To enhance the flavor of biryani rice, it is essential to use a blend of aromatic spices and herbs. Start by tempering whole spices such as cumin seeds, cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and bay leaves in hot oil or ghee.

This process releases their flavorful compounds. Additionally, ground spices like coriander, turmeric, and red chili powder can be added to the dish. Herbs like mint and coriander leaves can be used for a fresh and fragrant touch. It is crucial to ensure that the spices are well-balanced and evenly distributed throughout the rice to achieve a rich and enticing flavor profile.

What are some spices and herbs used in biryani rice?

The spices commonly used in biryani rice include bay leaves, cumin seeds, cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, cloves, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, mace, nutmeg, and star anise. These spices contribute to the distinct taste and aroma of biryani. Additionally, herbs such as mint leaves and coriander leaves are often used to add a fresh and aromatic element to the dish.

What is the secret of biryani taste?

The secret to the tantalizing taste of biryani lies in the careful selection and combination of spices. Each spice used in biryani brings its unique flavors, and when properly balanced, they create a symphony of taste. Along with the spices, the quality and cooking technique of the meat, vegetables, and rice also greatly contribute to the final flavor.

Another factor that can elevate the taste of biryani is the layering technique, where rice and meat are layered together, allowing the flavors to meld together while cooking. Ultimately, the secret of biryani taste lies in the precise blend of spices, cooking techniques, and the skillful handling of ingredients.


Incorporating these 10 best herbs and spices into your biryani rice recipe will undoubtedly elevate its taste, aroma, and overall dining experience.

Each of these spices brings its distinct qualities to the dish, creating a symphony of flavors that will leave your taste buds longing for more. So, venture into the world of spices, experiment with different combinations, and let your biryani rice become a culinary masterpiece!