Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Lamb Biryani

Biryani - even the word sounds exotic, smells aromatic and promises a yummy treat, doesn't it? If you ask me to define Biryani, I could use only one word. Royal! Yes, of course. Being born in an Indian islamic family, I was very well accustomed to Biryani right from childhood. Though we were no royals, we were never denied of this treat on every special occasion. Be it a wedding, a house warming function, on Eid, on Birthdays or even for special guests - every now and then, I used to get an opportunity to lay my hands on Biryani even as a child. But, back then, I never understood the historical influences or the geographical significances behind this lovely one pot meal.

India is a land of rich history, whose culture is varied, strongly influenced by the many invaders in the past. Biryani is said to have got its origin in India during the Mughal dynasty. It is an aromatic rice dish flavored by a blend of rich spices cooked along with meat or vegetables, specially prepared for the royals. With changing times, slowly this dish gained popularity and started spreading to many parts of India. Taking in the many likes and dislikes of the regional cuisines and availability of spices, Biryani metamorphosed and thus many varieties of Biryani came into existence.

Hey hey, I'm not going to write a thesis here. Just wanted to give a good intro into the post. Those who still find 'Biryani' to be an alien word, kindly refer to wiki. Coming to my story... Mom used to make tasty Biryani. When I was in school and then in college, Mom's Biryani is famous among my friends. Whenever they visit me at home or at times of Eid, she prepares it happily for them. During my college days, she used to prepare vegetable Biryani for my vegetarian friends too. I felt secretly proud of my mom for this. But I never cared to know the amount of labour and love that goes into making it.

After marriage, I got to taste the Biryani prepared by my mother-in-law. The way she prepared and the taste was entirely different from my mom's. I liked it this way too. Only then, I was intrigued to find the difference. My mother-in-law prepared Biryani in layers unlike my mom, who cooked meat and rice together. After coming to Germany, my dear husband prepared Biryani and it tasted different again. I'm not sure myself which one I like the most.

Being here in Germany, with a family and a home for myself and my husband, it was the first time, I as a host started inviting and entertaining friends. At such times, I and my husband give some thought about what our guests might like to eat, prepare a menu beforehand and plan who is going to make(cook) what. If we plan to make Biryani, my husband dons the apron. I proudly, still humbly, admit that whoever has tasted his Biryani liked it very much and asked for more. Praises be to the Lord. I was waiting for a long time for the perfect moment to share his recipe in my blog. Ramadan is around the corner and Taste of Pearl City's Iftar moments is a good chance. So, here I am, taking extreme pleasure in presenting you my husband's Lamb Biryani recipe. I sincerely hope, you would enjoy this.

Preparation Time: 40 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins + 20 mins for Dum
Serves: 5-6

Meat of lamb - 1250g (with bones) *
Basmati Rice - 1 kg *
Salt - to taste
Ghee - 4 tbsp

Onions - 3 medium sized, sliced thinly
Tomatoes - 3 medium sized, chopped
Potato - 1 big, sliced
Green chillies - 3, slit lengthwise
Yoghurt - 1 cup / 150 g
Ginger garlic paste - 3 tbsp

Cumin seeds - 2 tsp
Whole garam masala - cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon and bay leaves
Oil - 3 tbsp (Sunflower or canola oil)
Lemon juice - juice of 1 lemon

Mint and Coriander leaves - 1/2 a bunch each, chopped coarsely
Cashews - a handful
Raisins - a handful
Roasted onions - 2 handsful
Saffron - a few strands, soaked in 2 tbsp luke warm milk

For Biryani Masala:
Coriander powder - 3 tbsp
Red Chili powder - 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Crushed black pepper - 2 tsp
Garam masala powder - 1 tsp
Nutmeg powder - 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 2 tsp

Kindly note, all the ingredients and measurements mentioned above can be varied according your taste.

Getting the things ready for Biryani is the main labour that goes into the making. Actual cooking is damn easy. So, let's get the things ready now.

Step 1: Cut and clean the meat. As opposed to curries, for Biryani, the meat pieces should be of 2-inch cube sizes. Meat with bones is preferred. After cleaning, drain the meat of excess water.

Step 2: Prepare the marination - In a large mixing bowl, take half of the masala powder mix given under 'For Biryani masala'. To this, add the cleaned meat, yoghurt, ginger garlic paste, 2 tbsp oil, juice of half a lemon and enough salt and mix well. Cover with a fresh foil. Let this marination rest in the fridge for about an hour. Reserve the rest of the masala powder for later use.

Step 3: In the meantime, get the other things ready.
Slice the onions thinly. Cut the tomatoes into small cubes. Slit green chillies lengthwise. Clean and chop the green leaves. Slice the potato and keep aside.
In a small bowl, take 2 -3 tbsp of lukewarm milk. To this, add the saffron strands, cover and save aside.
If you do not get roast onions readymade, take a few onions(as per demand), cut into thin slices, fry in hot oil till crispy and golden brown, drain in kitchen towels and keep aside.
Roast raisins in 1 tbsp of ghee slightly. Take care not to burn them. If you do not get roasted cashews, you can roast the cashews along with the raisins.

Step 4: Prepare the rice - Clean the rice carefully not to break it. Take rice in a big vessel or rice cooker, add double the amount of water, add 2 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tbsp oil and enough salt. Cook the rice only until half cooked. When you feel the rice is half cooked, switch off the heat, drain the rice and take it in a bowl separately.


Step 1: Cooking the meat: In a cooker, heat 3 tbsp of ghee. After it is slightly hot, add the whole garam masala and fry for a minute. Now add the onions and saute until they become translucent. Add the green chillies and marinated meat. Stir fry for a few minutes. Add rest of the Biryani masala and fry for a few more minutes. Now add the chopped tomatoes and about a quarter of the chopped mint and coriander leaves. Please take care not to add water at this stage. The meat would get cooked in its own juices and from that of the tomatoes and the curd. Close the lid of the cooker and cook until 3-4 whistles.**

Step 2: Layering: Take a heavy bottomed vessel. Add one tablespoon of oil (We used the ghee leftover after frying the raisins) and leave the flame/hot plate on low heat. Now spread the sliced potatoes to cover the base completely. You got it? They are just to avoid burning of our Biryani***. Above the potato layer, spread about half of the meat with a little gravy. On top of it, spread half of the rice. Now, spread half of the mint coriander leaves, followed by one handful of fried onions. Now, take one or two ladles of gravy and evenly pour it over, followed by a few drops of lemon juice. Repeat the same process for another layer of meat, rice, mint-coriander, fried onions, some more gravy and lemon juice drops. Now, on top of all this, add the roast cashews and raisins. You can save some for garnishing later. Finally, spread the saffron milk evenly all over.

Step 3: Dum: Now, close this set up with an aluminium foil, sealing the edges tightly so that no steam gets out. Leave this on low heat for about 20-25 mins. In native language, this process is called "Dum". What happens now is that, the heat slowly spreads from the bottom upwards. During this, the meat and rice are cooked slowly, which finally gives the softness and aroma to the Biryani. There are many ways of putting Biryani in Dum, but this is what we find convenient and best on our electric stove. After about 20 mins, you can check the evenness of heat by touching the top and bottom surface of the vessel. If you find the heat to be even, it means it is almost done. Then, switch the flame off and leave for a few minutes before you open the foil.

Tips for Serving:
While serving, take Biryani in sections, cutting through the layers, so that you have a good mix of meat, rice and everything. Do not stir or mix directly in the vessel. After you take it in another serving bowl, you can garnish with more raisins, cashews and coriander leaves. Biryani goes well with Raita.

* Usually, the meat to rice ratio would be 1:1.5. This can be varied according to your needs. We have used here 1:1.25.
** After cooking the meat, in case you get a lot of gravy, please don't be tempted to pour all of it into the layers. That will make the Biryani soggy. Use your best judgement here. You can save the excess gravy for supper with Rotis.
*** If you find the potato slices at the bottom to be burnt, you can discard them. Otherwise, you can still serve it along.

Sending this to Taste of Pearl City's Iftar Moments Event and Torview's Food Palette Series Black and Lubna's Joy from Fasting to Feasting -  IV.


  1. Flavorful recipe...very beautiful presentation...

  2. This looks like a great biryani. I seldom see lamb in the supermarkets or butcher shops around these parts. I haven't eaten lamb in decades.
    But I make a pressure cooker biryani with chicken. I don't know from whistles, but mine cooks on high pressure 3 minutes, and then sits off the flame for 7 minutes, then is cooled under the faucet to open. I use anise seeds in it plus other spices.
    I think I can adapt your recipe to chicken, I certainly like the ingredients.
    Thank You.

  3. wow awesome biriyani...love the clicks...looks perfect

  4. thank you for linking this delicious biryani to the food palette series black this looks wonderfully aromatic

  5. Wow! Looks royal and exotic, I din't know that secret of layering potatoes at the bottom. Thank you for sending this royal treat to Iftar Moments :)

  6. It's almost lunch time here & you're making me hungry with this delicious looking biryani. Wow, an incredible mix of flavors! Absolutely delicious! Thanks to your husband for sharing the recipe :)

  7. something i can never get tired of eating...love biryani..

  8. No better word to describe biryani than 'royal'!! You said it right gurl..!!And no better recipe than islamic biryani!!! I have a muslim friend & have tasted the biryani made by her mom & since then in no star hotels too have i come across such taste, perfection & finesse!! No doubt yet another biryani recipe by ur dear hubby will win many hearts!! Will try it out with eggs..And do post ur mom`s recipe too sometime :)
    Prathima Rao
    Prats Corner

  9. Lamb Biriyani looks to be deliciously prepared. Already drooling over it.

    Hamaree Rasoi

  10. Wow!! What a tempting platter of delicious royal biryani... I am hungry for some:)

  11. @All: Thank you all for your lovely comments :)

    @Anthony Stemke: Of course you can try the layering method with chicken too. The number of whistles I've mentioned was for the standard Indian pressure cooker. It might be different from what you use. In any case, you can just follow your own cooking method. Let me know after you have tried. Thank you :)

    @Prathima: Of course you can try with eggs or vegetables too. Sure I shall post my mom's recipe when I get a chance..

  12. Hello my dear, happy to see you back and posting these wonderful recipes which I sadly being a ghas phoos do not eat :)
    This must be a treat to meat lovers!

  13. wow..Biryani!!..can have it anytime ..anyday!!..and these clicks are making me crave more!!..nice blog :)..first time here.i am always on a look out for different biryani recipes...will try it soon!!

  14. Biriyani looks so flavourful and tempting

  15. Amazing! Just loved this biriyani. So so tempting!!

  16. beautifully presented and nice write-up ! ...having tasted "his" biriyani, i can rate this to the topest score :)

  17. Beautiful Pictures.. Very very well presented.. New to ur space and absolutely love it here.. following u..

    Do visit mine as time permits..

    Jabeen's Corner is hosting an event with a surprise giveaway.. U are Invited !! Do send your entries..

    Jabeen's Corner

    Ongoing Event-Iftar nights

  18. This biryani sounds so delicious!

  19. Well presented mutton biryani,looks so tempting and inviting too...

  20. Hey girl, you nailed it-- yes, royal it is! And very much so. A muslim myself, I totally relate to your description of enjoying biryani for any occasion plus savoring different methods of preparation-- and all so yummy! You have made it to perfection by the looks of your gorgeous clicks. Now I'm craving biryani, oh boy!

    Hey, what's your name..?

  21. Hiya, came across ur site and i love ur clicks, we love biryani in our lil home too-in fact we have it at least once a month! come over to my site as well..maybe one of these days i shall post my version in the blog for iftar if u want to try out a different version albeit tasty too!

  22. Never seen such a well presented biryani....love it....looks extremely delectable......thank u for sending down to my event.....

  23. wow! looks mighty tempting...superb clicks!!
    first time here and loved your blog!
    happy to follow you!
    do visit me when time permits


  24. First time at ur space,biryani looks delicious,will try this sometime

  25. ur lamb biriyani is sooo delicious.Must definitly give a try.