Sunday, 7 September 2014

Meat Biryani; Lamb/Mutton/Goat

Lamb Biryani

Biryani: a word that has lately become popular here in the West. It seems to be generalized referring to anything that has rice and meat/fish chicken vegetables all cooked together! 

While in all honesty there are many different varieties and specifics to an authentic biryani. The spices and the protein like the meat, chicken, prawn or fish  should be marinated and cooked separately while the rice is boiled with its own spices in a different pot. The two combined through steaming create the one fantastic dish. 

Growing up I remember visiting the large open Kitchens of a famous Bohri caterer where the Biryani was being cooked in a hue deep pot, sealed on top with dough to avoid any steam from escaping. The rice was par-cooked before adding it to the pot of meat. This would finish off cooking with the intense steam created within. The end result  being a moist and delicious dish. I can still recall how each grain of rice would fall perfectly as the aromas were simply divine. The trick was the shameless addition of generous amounts of ghee or clarified butter to be able to achieve that feat.

Globally, regionally, country specific and even race and area specific people have created their versions of a Biryani to suit their personal taste. Some have saffron added, while others orange and yellow food colouring. While flavours vary from cardamom to the kewra/kewda;an extract from the Pandanus flower typical of North India and Pakistan. 

To myself a biryani must have yogurt, saffron and cardamom for the perfect flavour besides of course the umpteen other spices. The lamb must be accompanied by wonderful fried or roasted potatoes and the lamb/mutton/goat must be with bone for best results.

I can only recommend that it is the Bohri community that probably makes the worlds best Biryani. One can only try to compete with that!!

Gos ni Biryani ~ Lamb Biryani served with egg and yogurt raita

Serves 6 to 8 persons


1 tbsp oil
3/4 kg or 1 1/2 lbs pieces; choice of lamb/mutton/goat meat, bone in
1 finely chopped  raw large onion
2 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 finely chopped green chillies
2 tsp garlic puree
1 tsp ginger puree
1 tsp salt

2 large finely chopped tomatoes

1 cup water

2 large onions, fried to a golden brown and crushed

1 cup yogurt, slightly beaten with a spoon and seasoned with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar plus

1/2 tsp saffron threads, crumbled

1/2 cup ghee or oil

3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces 

Bay leaf

6 cloves
6 peppercorns
1 tsp whole cumin
6 cardamom pods, pounded
1 cinnamon stick
1 whole pod of garlic, peeled and sliced or hand chopped

3 cups rice, boiled with salt and 1 tsp oil and drained off all water

Step 1

Heat 1 tbsp of oil and saute the meat and then all the spices. Do this on a medium flame and keep stirring from time to time. Add the tomatoes and 1 cup of water, cover and cook for 45 minutes to an hour till the meat is soft and tender. The cooked meat mixture should be fairly dry.
Let it cool down.

Step 2

Add the crushed fried onions, yogurt and saffron mixture. Mix and keep aside at room temperature.

Step 3

Heat the 1/2 cup oil
Fry the potatoes until cooked, they must be crisp from the outside and soft from the inside. Sprinkle them with salt.
Add the whole spices for just a minute to the potatoes. Swirl and overturn all of it including the oil into the meat mixture.

Step 4

Wash and boil the rice with salt and oil. Throw away all the water and immediately tip the rice on to a flat thal/tray/ foil. This will ensure that every grain keeps separated.
Let it cool just a bit.

Step 5

Assemble the Biryani.
Alternate with mixture of meat and potatoes and layer it with rice, starting with the meat and topping up with the rice. Sprinkle the top with a pinch of crushed saffron to give it a gorgeous hue of golden yellow.

Cover tightly with a thick layer of foil and a lid, or with a tea-towel and a tight lid.

Steam over hot simmering water for 1 hour.
Serve hot.


I like to salt the meat mixture, the yogurt mix, the potatoes and rice individually to ensure it is not salty  and not bland.
Try to keep the pieces of meat and potato equal. 
To cook the potatoes correctly, it is best to ensure they are wiped dry, the oil is hot in a shallow skillet and they crisp up on a medium high flame. Once that is done, cover the skillet  and lower the flame to a gentle simmer. Allow them to cook for 20 minutes. This will steam and cook them from the inside. Now raise the heat and add the dry spice for a minute. Swirl and overturn into the meat.
Add or subtract more chilli according to your taste. This will be medium spicy hot.
Optional choice of serving is to layer it in the dish you wish to serve it in. Sadly you cannot display it as above but it still tastes just as good! 
Golden fried onion and eggs top this beautifully.
This biryani does not necessarily need a raita or dal as it should be moist enough.

For more interesting Parsi Food recipes and its origin read my cookbook

The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine.

For more amazing and fun recipes to try click on
 Niloufer's Kitchen : Moroccan Cuisine

Photo credit William Reavell

Readers Comments

17th August 2015
Kerban Avari Humranwala I've tried this! Loved it. Thank you,#NilouferMavalvala
18th August 2015
Jaws Kamath Greetings from Nainital, Kumaon.....Thanks Niloufer Mavalvalafor this wonderful was really fantastic. Did all that you instructed except the dum part, my final step was in my trusty rice cooker and it turned just perfect. This is definitely going to be on my menu list in the future.
4 hrs · Like