A Procrastinator's Journal

Thinking aloud…

Recipe for Biryani

with 12 comments

My first attempt at noting down the recipes I know. I’ll try to add photos when I make it next time. This one is for my good friend Pinto πŸ™‚

The recipe is dedicated to my mama from whom I learnt some fundamental concepts of biryani. I’m giving a North-Indian version. The biryani down south tends to be bit different, even served/mixed with curd at times.

Chicken/Mutton/Veg Biryani:

Biryani is a rice-based preparation, most probably part of the Mughal cuisine. There are many variations of the recipe, but there are two constants: rice and crisp-fried onions. Usually it’s made with Mutton (goat/lamb meat), but chicken is also quite common. It can also be prepared without any meat at all, with eggs, cauliflower or soya nuggets!


The formula for biryani is 1 kilo. That is, 1 kilo of main ingredients, i.e., rice and meat.

Rice: 1 kilo (preferably Basmati, but any rice which is not sticky, long-grained and cooks easily is okay)

Chicken(skinned)/Mutton: 1 kilo, cut into medium-sized pieces

Onions: 1/2 kilo

Tomatoes: 4 pieces, ripe, cut into small pieces

Curd(yogurt): 4 table-spoons (thick)

Ginger-garlic paste: 2 tea-spoons

Red chilly powder: 1 teaspoon

Spices (unground): Pepper, Cinnamon, Bay leaves (to your taste)

Butter: 50 gram

Cooking Oil (groundnut/sunflower/vegetable oil): 6-8 tablespoons

Dry-fruits (if you prefer): nutmeg (soak them in water), cashews (split in two)

Process: Clean and drain excess water from chicken/mutton. Add ginger-garlic paste, Reh chilly powder and curd to the meat, mix it well and keep it for marinating (it’s even better to marinate mutton for a couple of hours). Cut the onions in thin, long pieces.

Wash the rice, and keep it aside.

Heat sauce pan (with thick bottom) and add cooking oil. Fry the whole spices and then add the cut onions. Fry the onions at medium flame till the onions turn brown (not golden brown or dark brown, just brown like a dried leaf ). Take out half of the fried onions (while leaving the excess oil in the pan itself) and keep them aside. Add tomatoes and cook tilll the tomatoes almost turn into paste. Add the marinated meat (chicken/mutton), mix it well, cover it and cook (stirring inbetween) till the meat is done. Take the pan off the flame.

While the meat is cooking, boil water, approximately 1.5 times the volume of rice (depends on the type of rice you are using- remember, the rice should not get sticky!). Add the rice to the boiling water and cook it till it is almost done. This is the trickiest part of the recipe- the rice should be correctly done- uncooked rice will spoil the taste, and overcooked rice will spoil the looks! Spread the rice in a plate/sieve and leave it, keeping it covered.

The next part is layering- you should have about 2 layers of meat sandwiched between 3 layers of rice. Take a big pan or baking bowl (if you’re using oven), big enough to contain both the rice and the meat. If possible, coat the pan with a little (melted) butter. Lay a 2-inch layer of rice, breaking the lumps if present. Spread half the meat (along-with the gravy) evenly on the rice. Spread some of the fried onions which we had kept aside. Also spread small chunks of butter and dry-fruits (if you are using them) on it. Repeat the layer of rice and meat. Finish with a top layer of remaining rice, butter and dryfruits.

Next is a process called “dam lagaana”, i.e., letting the whole thing cook slowly, while making sure the moisture and aroma does not escape. Cover the assembly with a tight lid or aluminium foil. If you have oven, keep it in it at 180 degrees for 30 mins. Otherwise, keep it on low flame for 30 mins. Leave it aside for another 15-20 mins before serving.

Spread finely cut coriander leaves on top before serving. Make sure you serve by cutting across the layers (vertically). Biryani goes well with green salad, or vegetable raita.

Biryani can be had as a meal in itself, since it’s quite filling. It can also be combined with roasted stuff, or some vegetables.


Written by ppatil

October 31, 2005 at 7:33 pm

12 Responses

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  1. […] Biryani recipe […]

  2. I like the clear-cut way in which you wrote this.
    We at the Naughty Curry spice blog are working on perfecting a Hyderabadi biryani. We’re usually more casual around here and a bit more, um, innovative. But I don’t want to dumb down a biryani. I want it to be something special. Hopefully, the fourth attempt is the charm…. πŸ™‚


    December 18, 2005 at 4:31 pm

  3. I am glad to find this. I am under the requirement to remove salt and sugar from my diet. I could not eat such. So I started to look for foods with other spices.

    I stumbled into an Indian restaurant and fell in love with biryani. i tired of depending on others, mainly my Indian students, to make it for me. I look forward to healthier eating.

    Io-Aurelia Duncan

    March 10, 2007 at 6:54 am

  4. Giving this a whirl tonight. Will let you know the outcome! πŸ˜‰


    April 13, 2007 at 6:47 am

  5. Tip for the basmati Lovers

    Add a Lime to the boiling water , when cooking fulffy boiled white basmati rice . It will seprate each grain and will make the rice look more white .


    May 8, 2007 at 8:09 pm

  6. check this blog as wellon basmati interesting !!!!!


    May 8, 2007 at 8:12 pm

  7. no comment


    March 8, 2008 at 12:20 pm

  8. hmm i am lovin it .


    May 5, 2008 at 4:17 pm

  9. hi,
    your writw-up is simply supreb. Excellent job.


    July 22, 2008 at 3:48 am

  10. I wonder if I could use the pressure cooker for the dam lagaana process.


    November 25, 2008 at 10:56 am

    • Yes, it’s very convenient to use the pressure cooker for `dam lagaana’. Don’t wait for the cooker to whistle though, because there’s not enough steam for it to whistle; in fact, if it does, it means there’s too much water in the rice or the gravy and the final taste of biryani is spoilt. It’s safer to be conservative on water while cooking rice; you can add butter if you find the rice to be dry during `dam lagaana’.


      December 11, 2008 at 2:17 pm

  11. Thank you for posting this recipe. It seems quite authentic and is very, very easy to understand.

    Of all the recipes I’ve found online, yours seems the closest to how my mother cooks her biryani (the best in the world!).

    I will have a go at your recipe and let you know the results.


    January 6, 2009 at 5:40 pm

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