Mamta's Kitchen

Lamb Biryani Pulao/Pilaf Ric, Easy Step By Step Guide

Gosht ki Biryani

Mamta Gupta


Biryani is a rich rice dish, a whole meal in itself. It does take time to go through various steps and to assemble it. It does not have to be a long and complicated recipe though. Here is my simplified version, a step by step guide to making it.

The list of ingredients is still long, it has to be for the flavours, but it is easy once you have got them assembled. Just follow 5 simple steps. When served, Biryani looks like a simple rice dish, but once you dig in, all the aroma and luscious meat pops out!

Serves 6-8

Edited October 2023

Also see Traditional Lamb Biryani, Chicken Biryani, Vegetable Biryani, A Quick Biryani, Soya Chunk Biryani, Chicken Fried Rice from Leftovers, BBQ Selection and Marinade Selection.


  • 1 kg. lamb or mutton leg/shoulder cut into small pieces Meat on bone is good for this dish), washed and drained.

  • For the marinade:

  • 5-6 large onions (750gm.), peeled and thinly sliced

  • 3-4 cups oil, for deep frying onions and cooking the biryani meat etc.

  • 4 large cardamoms*,

  • 6 green cardamoms*

  • 2-3 inch piece of cinnamon*

  • 4-5 bay leaves*

  • 8-10 black pepper corns*

  • 8-10 cloves*

  • 1 heaped tsp. black cumin (kala jeera)-use ordinary cumin, if you don't have it

  • 1 inch piece ginger, chopped or grated finely

  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped finely

  • 2- 2 1/2 tsp. salt (adjust to taste)

  • 1/2 tsp. chilli powder (adjust amount to your taste)

  • 1/2 cup thick yoghurt

  • 2 large tomatoes (250gm.), chopped

  • 1 bunch of coriander leaves, chopped

  • 1 small bunch of mint leaves, chopped

  • 2-3 green chillies- slit lengthways (adjust amount to your taste)

  • 1 lime or 1/2 lemon, cut into small pieces

  • For Cooking the Rice:

  • 750 gm.-1 kg. Basmati rice

  • 2 1/2 litre water for rice

  • 1/2 tsp. salt

  • A small sprig of mint leaves-you must remember to add these to rice water

  • A couple of sprigs of coriander leaves. You must remember to add these to rice water

  • For assembling the Biryani

  • A few strands of saffron soaked in 2 tablespoons of warm water or a little yellow colour added to the water.

  • Rose water and/or kewra (screw-pine flower) water

  • 1 tbsp. Ghee, Clarified Butter,


  1. Step 1; Marinate the meat

  2. Place all marinade ingredients into a blender and blend to a paste.

  3. Mix with meat well, transfer to an airtight container and leave in a fridge for a few hours.

  4. Step 2; Deep Fry Onions Heat the oil/ghee in a wok or fryer and deep fry onions, until quite dark brown. This takes quite a while, so be patient. Once medium to deep brown, take out & place in a wire colander, with a bowl underneath to collect surplus oil. This is flavoured oil, can be used for cooking other foods.

  5. Step 3; Cook the meat Heat 2-3 tablespoon of oil, add all the whole spices; cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon, black peppers, cumin, bay. Fry for half a minute.

  6. Add marinated meat. Stir fry on moderate heat, until meat is nicely browned on all sides.

  7. Add 2/3rd of the fried onions, keeping 1/3rd onions aside for garnishing later. Cook until meat is nearly done and only a little gravy is left. This may take 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the cut and quality of meat.

  8. Step 4; Boil the rice :

  9. Boil the water for rice with mint and coriander leaves and salt.

  10. Add rice and boil briskly, with the lid off, until 2/3rd done (2 grains felt, when rice is pressed and squashed between two fingers).

  11. Drain the water off by transferring the rice to a colander/large sieve. Run cold water over it to stop it from cooking further while resting. Leave in the colander for a few minute for the water to drain out completely. The grains should be separate.

  12. Step 5; Assemble the Biryani or layer the biryani

  13. Grease a large oven proof dish or a pan with ghee. Spread 1/3rd of the rice at the base of the pan. Sprinkle 1/3rd of the saffron soaked in water/yellow colour and a few drops of kewra (screw pine flower) water/rose water on top of the rice.

  14. Now layer with 1/2 of the cooked meat.

  15. Next, cover with the second 1/3rd of the rice. Sprinkle 1/3rd of saffron/yellow colour, rose/kewra on top of rice.

  16. Now spread the remaining 1/2 of the meat on top of the rice.

  17. Finish with the last 1/3rd of the rice layer on top.

  18. Dot the rice with the remaining saffron/yellow colour, rose/kewra water on top.

  19. Sprinkle 1/3rd of the saved fried onions on top evenly. You can spread some of the fried onions on each layer of rice too, as you go along. This adds to the flavour. But you will have to fry more onions at the beginning.

  20. Dot with a little ghee and soaked saffron or a few drops of liquid jalebi (orange) colour here and there (see picture). These drops of ghee and colour will trickle down into the rice and when you serve, they will give you a nice flavour, as well as a few dark orange coloured rice grains interspersed in the rest of the white rice. This looks very nice when served.

  21. Cover the pan with a tight lid. You can keep it in the fridge at this stage, to be heated before serving.

  22. Serve the Biryani

  23. Put it in a medium hot oven, 170-180C, on the centre shelf, for 20 minutes or so, until the rice is fully done. It can be cooked directly on the hob, on a low flame, with the lid tightly closed (Dum). This will take 20-30 minutes*.

  24. Serve hot with yoghurt, pickles and Papadoms. Traditionally, it is served with Mirchi Ka Saalan, kind of chilli curry, sliced onions and yoghurt.


  • If you would like a richer biryani, add another 500 gm. of lamb. Remember to increase all other ingredients required to cook the lamb, accordingly.

  • Cooking time in oven will be increased by 10 minutes when cooking chilled Biryani straight from the fridge. Do not leave cooked rice lying around at room temperature, it is a health hazard.

  • Biryani freezes reasonably well. Defrost fully. Sprinkle a little water on top, cover and heat in a microwave, or an ordinary oven at low-medium heat or in a heavy bottomed pan, on low heat for 20-30 minutes, until steaming hot.

  • BBQ Biryani Pulao/Pilaf: Cook rice as per your recipe. Make small parcels, one parcel per person, each wrapped in aluminium foil. Place them on BBQ for a few minutes to heat, 5-10 minutes, turning over once. Serve the parcels straight from the BBQ.

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