Mutton Biryani is one of those dishes that has become synonymous with Indian cuisine.
This aromatic and spicy curry originated from the Mughal Empire.
The dish was brought to England by British colonizers during their rule over India.
It’s common for people to think of it as an authentic Indian dish but there is actually no such thing.
Mutton Biryani is believed to have been invented by Muslim chefs who were influenced by Persian recipes.
What Is The Best Mutton Biryani Recipe?
The traditional version of this classic dish contains lamb or goat meat (mutton) cooked with rice, dried fruits, nuts, saffron, ginger-garlic paste, and other herbs and spices.
But you can also find numerous variations on the theme across different regions of India.
There are dozens if not hundreds of versions of biryani!
Here we will discuss the basic steps involved in making mutton biryani along with some tips for creating your own unique style of the dish.
And because each region has its own specialties, you may want to try out these regional recipes too!
- How to make mutton biryani
- What are the ingredients of a mutton biryani recipe?
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- Where to get good quality mutton biryani in Melbourne, Australia
- Best restaurant serving mutton biryani in New York City, USA
- Top 5 places to eat mutton biryani in London, UK
- Famous recipe book containing mutton biryani recipes
What Are The Ingredients Of A Mutton Biryani Recipe?
The most important ingredient of this dish is mutton which is cooked in a mixture of spices like ginger garlic paste, cumin powder, coriander seeds, cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, cloves, black peppercorns, bay leaves, and saffron threads.
These spices give the dish its unique flavor and aroma.
Next comes basmati rice which provides the body of the dish along with other vital nutrients.
To complete the meal, raisins, almonds, pistachios, cashews, dried apricots, dates, shredded coconut, and fresh lime juice are also used.
You can even add some chopped onions or green chilies if you want your biryani extra spicy.
If you want to be adventurous then you can include red chillies too!
But what about the vegetables?
Vegetables are optional depending on how much time you have and how hungry you are.
Some cooks prefer not adding any veggies while others use carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, cauliflower, peas, beans, mushrooms, spinach, eggplant, zucchini, cabbage, okra, onion, turnips, and capsicum.
Even though they might seem odd at first glance, these vegetables help bring out the flavors in the dish.
How Do You Make Mutton Biryani?
The basic principle behind making this dish involves soaking dry-spiced lamb or goat meat in water overnight.
Next day, cook the mixture in clarified butter until it becomes tender.
Then add onions, ginger, garlic, green chilies, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, peppercorns, coriander seeds, bay leaves, cloves, mace, and cumin.
Continue cooking until all the vegetables and spice blend turn golden brown.
Now add basmati rice, stock, and salt.
Cook for about 10 minutes before adding yogurt.
Once cooked, garnish with sliced almonds, raisins, cashews, pistachios, dried dates, and fresh mint.
Serve hot with naan bread or roti.
Here we will show you how to prepare this tasty dish at home.
- 1 pound (450 grams) boneless leg of lamb
- 4 tablespoons oil
- 3 large onions, chopped
- 10 ounces (300 grams) carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 6 ounces (170 grams) tomatoes, diced
- 5 teaspoons minced ginger
- 12 whole black peppercorns
- 2 cloves
- 7 cardamom pods
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 tablespoon saffron threads
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup basmati rice
- Salt to taste
- Garnishes like slivered almonds, raisins, cashew nuts, pistachios, and mint leaves
What Is The History Of Mutton Biryani?
The history of this dish goes back more than 500 years ago when it first appeared in the royal kitchens of the Mughals.
The dish became so famous that it was exported all around the world and spread far beyond the borders of Persia.
However, the origins of this dish are unknown.
Some believe that it came from Central Asia while others say that it developed independently in different parts of South Asia.
As per legend, Shah Jahan (the fifth ruler of the Mughal dynasty) introduced the dish to his court after tasting it at a village wedding.
He declared that he loved the combination of meat and rice so much that he ordered it to be served on special occasions.
In fact, it was not just Shah Jahan but also other rulers who enjoyed mutton biryani so much that they decided to serve it regularly on festive days.
The popularity only grew further as time passed by.
Over the centuries, many variations of mutton biryani emerged across South Asian countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, and Pakistan.
Each region had its own unique way of making this delicious dish.
But what remains constant is the use of mutton or goat meat along with rice and fragrant herbs and spices.
Today, the most popular version of mutton biryani can be found in Hyderabad, India where it is known as ‘Biryani’.
There, the locals prefer using beef instead of lamb.
However, mutton biryani is still very popular in the city because the taste is similar to beef biryani.
What Is The Origin Of Mutton Biryani?
There are many theories about where mutton biryani came from.
Some say it was originally known as ‘biryanis’ which means “to cook in layers.”
Others believe it was named after its creator, Biram Khan, who lived in 17th century Bengal (now Bangladesh).
His name itself translates into “Biram is good.”
Historians believe that the first recipe for mutton biryani dates back to 1650 when King Aurangzeb sent his chef to Iran to learn more about cooking methods used in Persia.
The chef returned with a new recipe for biryanis.
The royal kitchen adopted this recipe and started making biryanis using mutton pieces instead of lamb or goat meat.
They also added saffron to give the dish its characteristic color.
One of the most important ingredients used to create a delicious mutton biryani is fresh ginger.
Ginger adds flavor and aroma to the dish and helps boost your immune system too.
You can use dried ginger if you don’t want to spend time chopping up fresh ginger every time you prepare this dish.
Another key ingredient you will need for a perfect mutton biryani is cardamon pods.
Cardamon seeds contain aromatic oils that help add flavor to the curry while adding fragrance to the entire house.
You should buy these whole pods so they’re easier to grind yourself.
If you’ve never cooked with them before, start with a small amount and increase gradually until you get the hang of it.
Also keep in mind that cardamom pods shouldn’t be ground too fine because then they lose their flavor.
A lot of restaurants sell pre-ground cardamom pods already, but I always prefer grinding my own myself.
If you want to try out some other spice combinations for mutton biryani, here are two easy ones you can try.
- Cinnamon powder + black pepper powder + coriander powder + nutmeg powder + bay leaves + cumin powder + cloves + cardamom pods + chili flakes
- Cardamom pods + cinnamon sticks + clove buds + fennel seeds + peppercorns + star anise + vanilla beans + nutmeg
How Do You Make A Perfect Mutton Biryani?
The most important step when making this dish is preparing the right marinade which will flavor the entire meal.
You can use any combination of dry seasonings or herbs you like, but I prefer to stick to just two main flavors – ginger, garlic, cardamom, cinnamon sticks, cumin seeds, cloves, black peppercorns, bay leaves, turmeric powder and saffron threads.
If you want to go all out on your marinade, add up to five dried red chillies too!
Once the meat has soaked in the marinade overnight, remove them from the fridge to let the flavors really sink into the meat.
Then put everything back together and cook it slowly.
I also recommend using a pressure cooker instead of a normal pan to get the best results.
Make sure you don’t overcook the meat though because once cooked, the gravy needs to be thick enough to soak through the rice so it doesn’t burn while cooking.
If you’re not happy with the result, you can always add more onions, tomatoes, garam masala, etc., until you find something you love.
What Are The Secret Ingredients Of A Mutton Biryani Recipe?
To create this delicious dish, cooks need to use different spices like black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin seeds, nutmeg, ginger, garlic, coriander seed, fennel seed, bay leaves, chili powder, turmeric, saffron, rose water, and mace.
The base of the mutton biryani is always either basmati or jasmine rice.
In order to give the dish more flavor, cooks add butter milk along with ghee (clarified butter) in the preparation process.
In addition to these basic ingredients, mutton biryani also includes vegetables like peas, carrots, potatoes, green beans, cauliflower, spinach, cabbage, sweet potato, and tomatoes.
Sometimes, chicken may be added too.
But usually, lamb is used for this curry.
There are two types of mutton biryani – vegetable-based and meat-based.
Vegetable-based mutton biryani uses only vegetables while the other type incorporates whole pieces of meat into the mix.
This recipe requires a lot of patience because it takes time to cook.
So if you don’t want your meal ruined, then you should prepare this on a weekend when you can take advantage of all the slow cooking ingredients.
If you’re looking for an instant solution, here’s how to make mutton biryani in less than 30 minutes!
Step 1: Cook the rice
- Add 2 cups of water to a pot and bring it to boil.
- Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium low.
- Cover the pot and let simmer until the water evaporates completely.
- When done, remove the lid and fluff up the rice using a fork.
Step 2: Prepare the masala
- Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a pan and fry onions till they turn golden brown.
- Then, pour in 1 tablespoon of mustard seeds followed by 500 grams of minced beef.
- Let the mixture sizzle for about 5 minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients.
- Stir well so that everything gets coated evenly with the oil.
- Cook the mixture for another 10 minutes before removing them from the stovetop.
Step 3: Add the vegetables and salt
- After mixing together, transfer the contents back to the stovetop.
- Now, add ½ cup of water at a time to the pan and stir continuously to avoid burning the bottom layer of the onion.
- You will notice that after each addition of water, the mixture thickens significantly.
- Cooking the onions further reduces the amount of water required.
- Continue stirring constantly to prevent the onions from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Keep stirring to ensure that the onions get cooked properly.
- Continue cooking until the onions start getting translucent.
- Add the remaining vegetables except the tomatoes along with ¼ teaspoon of red chili powder.
- Mix thoroughly and cover the pan again.
- Cook the vegetables on high heat for about 15 minutes without opening the lid to allow them to release excess moisture.
- Next, add the tomatoes and continue cooking for another five minutes.
- Finally, sprinkle some garam masala on top of the mixture and close the lid once again.
- Continue cooking for another 15 minutes.
- Open the lid and check whether the mutton biryani has reached its desired consistency.
Step 4: Garnish with yogurt and serve hot
- If the mutton biryani looks dry, add a little bit of plain yogurt to moisten it.
- Serve hot and enjoy immediately.
What Is The Difference Between Mutton Biryani And Chicken Biryani?
Let us clarify what makes these two different types of biryani.
Chicken or mutton refers to the type of meat used to prepare this dish.
There are many variations of each, including beef and seafood too.
The main difference lies in how they are cooked.
A mutton biryani will be cooked using lamb while a chicken biryani uses chicken.
But apart from that, both look pretty much similar.
In case you want to know more about mutton biryani, here is a detailed guide on the differences between mutton biryani and chicken biryani.
You can also learn more about the history behind both these dishes.
Difference 1: Meat
A mutton biryani is usually prepared using lamb.
Lamb is fatty which helps retain moisture when cooked so this ensures that the meat remains tender.
On the other hand, chicken biryani is often prepared using chicken thighs.
Chicken breasts might seem like the best option since they require less cooking time but most restaurants use chicken thigh instead.
They offer better flavor than breast meat and help maintain juiciness throughout the process.
So if you prefer your food moist, go for chicken thighs.
Difference 2: Rice
While preparing a mutton biryani, rice is not added at the beginning.
Instead, it is soaked overnight before being sauteed.
Once the meat is browned, onions are added along with ginger-garlic paste.
Then water is poured into the pan and allowed to boil until all the liquid evaporates.
Once everything cools down, the meat is placed inside the pot and covered with a layer of thick yogurt mixed with coriander leaves, cardamom pods, cumin seeds, turmeric powder, cinnamon sticks and saffron strands.
And this mixture is then topped up with fresh coconut milk and garam masala.
Finally, basmati rice is sprinkled on top of the sauce and steamed.
On the other hand, chicken biryani is served with white basmati rice cooked separately.
After removing the bones from the chicken pieces, it is marinated in yogurt and lemon juice along with some herbs.
The chicken is then fried till golden brown and cooked with onion, garlic, ginger, green chili peppers, tomatoes, and tomato puree.
With this done, the marinade is drained out and reserved.
Next, oil is heated in another pan and the marinated chicken is added.
When the chicken is almost cooked through, the marinating liquid is returned to the pan and stirred well.
Now add salt, pepper, red chili flakes, saffron and mix well.
This step ensures that the chicken absorbs all the flavors well.
While this is happening, the rice is par boiled in plenty of water.
Once the rice is cooked, the chicken is removed and the liquid is strained off.
To finish off the dish, garnish it with chopped mint leaves.
For the final touch, sprinkle some sugar on top and serve hot.
How Do You Make A Traditional Mutton Biryani Recipe?
The process of making this famous food involves cooking mutton (lamb) or goat meat with onions, ginger, garlic, coriander leaves, cumin seeds, cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, cloves, black peppercorns, bay leaves, saffron threads, and nutmeg.
After that, some water is added and it simmers until tender.
Then, basmati rice is cooked with salt and other ingredients like almonds, cashews, raisins, pistachios, dried fruit, and ghee.
Finally, the mixture is seasoned with garam masala powder, chili powder, turmeric, and coriander powder.
You can also add green chillies if you prefer hotter dishes.
You can use mutton leg pieces instead of lamb.
However, they will take longer to cook.
If you want to serve more guests, ask your butcher to cut them into smaller pieces so they are easier to handle.
Another alternative would be beef, which takes less time than mutton.
Chicken legs are perfect too since they don’t need long hours to cook.
They should be marinated first before adding them to the pot, though.
Step 1 – Marinate the meat
- Wash the meat well and pat dry using paper towels.
- Remove any excess fat on its surface.
- Also, remove the bones and visible sinew.
- Cut the meat into small cubes about 2 inches each side.
- Place them in a bowl and cover them with yogurt mixed with all-purpose flour.
- Mix together the remaining ingredients and pour them over the prepared meat.
- Let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes while mixing occasionally.
Step 2 – Cook the meat
- After half an hour, heat up oil in the pressure cooker and then brown the meat on both sides.
- Add the spice paste and fry it well.
- Make sure not to burn it.
- Add the onion slices and fry them for two minutes.
- Next, add the ginger and garlic and let them simmer for another minute.
- Now add the tomatoes, tomato puree, ground ginger, turmeric, red chili powder, coriander powder, and garam masala powder.
- Fry these items for 10 minutes.
- When the tomato sauce starts boiling, lower the flame to medium.
- Pour in enough hot water to fill the bottom pan of the pressure cooker halfway.
- Once the steam comes out, mix everything very well and bring it back to high flame.
- Stir continuously until the meat is tender.
- Now, open the lid and check how much liquid remains inside the cooker.
- If you see little bit left, reduce the flame to low and keep stirring constantly.
- Otherwise, close the lid again and wait until the remaining water boils away completely.
- Once done, transfer the meat to a serving plate and garnish with chopped fresh coriander leaves.
Step 3 – Prepare the rice
- Cook the rice according to the instructions on the packet.
- While it cooks, prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- When the rice is ready, drain off the extra moisture, season it with salt and pepper, and spread it on top of the meat.
- Heat up the skillet and pour in the clarified butter.
- As soon as the butter melts, add the roasted nuts and stir them around.
- Sprinkle them with powdered sugar when they start turning golden brown.
- To finish things off, sprinkle the fried nuts with freshly grated coconut along with finely sliced green chilies.
- 1 kg lamb or beef
- 3-4 onions
- 6 cloves garlic
- 5 green cardamom pods
- 15 peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- ¼ cup ginger paste
- ½ tablespoon coriander seeds
- 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 1/8th teaspoon saffron
- 1 Bowl
- 1 Pan
- 1 kg Mutton shoulder
- ½ Cup Curd
- ¼ Teaspoon Turmeric Powder
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
- 2 Tablespoons Ghee
- 2 Tablespoons Oil
- ½ Teaspoon Cumin Seeds
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 4 Cloves
- ½ Inch Cinnamon
- 2 Cardamom Pods
- 3 Onions thickly
- 1 Tablespoon Ginger Garlic
- 3 Tomatoes
- 1 Teaspoon Chilli Powder
- ¼ Teaspoon Turmeric Powder
- ½ Teaspoon Garam Masala
- ½ Cup Milk
- ¼ Cup Water
- 700 grams Basmati Rice
- 8 Cups Water
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 4 Cloves
- ½ Inch Cinnamon
- 2 Cardamom Pods
- 2 Tablespoons Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Ghee
- 2 Tablespoons hot Milk
- 12 Strands Saffron
- ½ Cup Fried Onions
- ½ Cup Mint Leaves
- ½ Cup Coriander Leaves
- 2 Tablespoons warm Ghee
- The mutton should be washed, cleaned, and then pat dried with paper towels. Combine the mutton, curd, salt, and turmeric. Mix well. For at least 20 minutes to two hours, cover and let the food marinade.
- A big pressure cooker with ghee and oil added should be heated over a medium burner. Add cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, bay leaf, and cumin seeds. Fry until aromatic or for 30 seconds.
- Sliced onions should brown somewhat after 2 minutes of cooking time. Fry the ginger and garlic paste until aromatic.
- Add the tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes, or until they start to soften. Add the marinated mutton and simmer for an additional 4-5 minutes on high, or until the mutton begins to brown. Add the garam masala, turmeric, and chilli powder. Stir and fry together.
- Make sure they are thoroughly combined before adding the milk and water. Place the cover on tightly and pressure cook for 25–30 minutes on medium.
- To remove all the excess starch, wash the basmati rice at least three times. Rice should be soaked for 30 to 60 minutes before cooking.
- In a very big, heavy-bottomed saucepan over high heat, combine the water, spices, salt, and ghee. Make sure the pot is big enough to hold the rice without it burning on the bottom.
- Water should be brought to a rolling boil. Add the rice and cook it for 7 minutes on high heat after the water begins to boil. As the rice will continue to cook along with the mutton, make careful you only par boil it to 70% doneness. Use the drainage to layer.