Be it the heavy rich biriyani in Arsalan or the seemingly light biriyani in Aminia or the just-perfect biriyani in RahmaniaEVERYONE loves a bit of biriyani.

lamb biriyani

When I joined college, I was literally in heaven. Park Circus is an area oozing out with old and new food places – an abode for food lovers (the fact that the food capital of the city, Park Street is a brief 7-minute-walk away simply adds a few feathers to its shiny blue cap).

Arsalan has been a favourite food joint to visit during the many lunch breaks for the past two years. There’s literally 2 Arsalans, 1 Shiraaz, 1 Kohinoor, 1 Zeeshan and other cheap beef biriyani places – all brooding near my college.

How you expect anyone to be in shape, I wonder.


Biryani, Biriyani, Biriani, Beryani, Beriani or Buriyani – however it is you may pronounce, you are bound to love it – it’s aroma, it’s flavor, it’s exquisite blend of the right amount of spices and the special place it takes you when you have your first spoonful…


I’m getting hungry by merely thinking about it. So not fair.


Anyway, here are two recipes if you fancied cooking your Biriyani instead of a take-away.


Mutton Biriyani


Time: 3 hour 30 minutes

Serves: 6


For the rice – 1 star anise, 500 gm basmati rice (washed & drained), 2 bay leaves, 2 black cardamom, 2 tsp black cumin seeds, 6 black peppercorn, 6 green cardamom, 2 cinnamon sticks, 6 cloves, 1 tsp fennel, 1/4th jaiphal, 1 javitri, 3 tsp salt
For mutton marination – 1 kg mutton (cut in 2 inches pieces, preferably front leg part and avoid shoulder cut), 1 Tbsp garam masala, 1 Tbsp garlic paste, 1 Tbsp ginger paste, 3 Tbsp raw papaya paste, 4 Tbsp hung curd, Juice of 1 lemon, 1 Tbsp red chilli powder, 1 tsp salt
Other ingredients – 4 onions (thinly sliced), 2 tomatoes (chopped), 1/4 th cup milk (warm), Ghee, Saffron strands, Oil, Rose water, Kewra essence, 4 green chillies



Marinating the mutton – To the mutton add the beaten curd, ginger-garlic paste, raw papaya paste, chilli powder, salt, lemon juice, garam masala. Allow the mutton to marinate for 3 hours.

Making fried onions or Barista –Slice 2 onions very thinly. Separate the slices. In a pan or kadai add oil and fry the onion slices till nicely brown. Take care not to burn them. Fry in small batches. Do not put all the slices at a time, that will lead to lumpy messy onions. Make sure all the onion slices frying are dipped in oil, if needed add more oil. Keep stirring continuously but gently for an even brown color. Take the fried onions out with a slotted spoon or ladle. Keep them on a paper-towel lined plate. This crispy brown fried onion slices are called Barista.

Cooking the mutton – Heat ghee in a thick-bottomed pan. Add remaining sliced onions and green chillies. Cook, stirring continuously, till onions are light golden brown. Add ginger paste and garlic paste and mix well. Add marinated mutton and cook on high heat for seven to eight minutes. Add coriander powder, cumin powder and red chilli powder. Mix thoroughly. Stir in three cups of water, bring it to a boil, reduce heat and cook covered till mutton is almost cooked. Add tomatoes, salt, garam masala powder and fresh coriander leaves. Cook for 15 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally. The ghee would be separated from the spices and there should not be any watery gravy to the meat.

Preparing the rice – Use only good quality long grain Basmati rice. Soak the rice for 20 minutes in water. Wash well till the water runs clear. Drain all the water. In a small piece of cloth take cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, javitri, jaiphal, black peppercorn, shahi jeera, star anise and tie a knot to make a bag (potli). Bring 750 ml water to boil, add rice, bay leaf, salt and potli, cover and cook till rice is done 1/3rd. Drain the water & remove the whole masala potli.

Preparing the saffron-milk –  Take 1/4th cup warm milk in a cup and dissolve saffron strands in the milk. Cover and wait for 20 minutes. Add rose water and kewra essence in the milk. Mix well and cover. Keep aside.

Layering the biryani – Take a large heavy bottom pan with tight fitting lid. Add 2tbsp ghee to the pan. Melt the ghee on low heat. Turn and rotate the pan carefully so the ghee can coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Switch off the heat. Add a layer of cooked rice, then cooked meat pieces, sprinkle saffron water, add fried onion slices and ghee. Again add a layer of rice, then meat…go on like this till you are done. Top and bottom layer will be of rice. Cover with chopped pudina and coriander, fried onion and slit green chillies and juice of half a lemon. Put the lid on. Seal the pan with flour dough or aluminium foil, then put the lid. Keep the heat to lowest. And cook the Biryani in this ‘Dum’ process for 40 minutes. Make sure your pan is heavy-bottomed or the rice will burn. Or you can place a flat tawa then keep the pan on that tawa. After 40 minutes switch off the heat and let the biryani stand for another 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve with raita and salad.


Fish Dum Biriyani


Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients: 1 kg fish fillets-cut into 1.5 ” cubes, 2 Tbsp oil, 1 cup onions-grated, 1 tsp ginger paste, 1 tsp garlic paste, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp garam masala, 1 Tbsp coriander powder, 1 tsp chilli powder, 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1.5 tsp salt, 1 cup hung yogurt, 1 cup coriander leaves-chopped, Green chillies to taste-finely chopped, 1 tsp biryani masala, 1/3 cup browned onions

For the Rice – 2 cup rice-cleaned and washed, 2 tsp oil, 4 cloves, 4 peppercorns, 1 cinnamon-broken, 4 green cardamoms, 1 tsp salt, 3 cups hot water, Saffron or color mixed in 1 cup warm milk

Direction: Heat oil and add cumin seeds. When they splutter, add onions and ginger-garlic pastes. Stir fry till fat separates. Add the garam masala, coriander powder, chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt and yogurt and saute till fat separates. Mix in the fish and cook over high heat till opaque. Mix in the browned onions, coriander, green chillies and biryani masala. To make the rice, heat oil and add cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon and cardamoms. When they darken a bit, add rice, water and salt. Mix well and cook till rice is tender but still holds its shape. To serve, put the fish layer at the bottom of the dish, cover with the rice and sprinkle the saffron-milk mixture. Keep in an oven or over low heat, over a tawa for about 15 minutes. Mix to break up the layers and serve.


Image and Recipe Courtesy –