Lamb Biryani


Grace, one of our talented non-blogging Daring Kitchen members, was our Daring Cooks’ August hostess who shared with us some of her family’s tried and true Bengali Biryani recipes – all of them delicious and all of them prepared fresh from our own kitchens!

I thoroughly enjoyed making this; the house was filled with the most wonderful aromas! Even though the recipe didn’t call for it, I made my own ghee which was a great experience; I was amazed how beautifully mellow and fragrant it was and I’d definitely make it again for similar dishes. If you’re interested in making ghee, I’ve popped a recipe by Alton Brown at the bottom of the page.

Note: I personally felt the dish needed some sweetness in the form of sultanas, so would happily recommend adding in a handful.



  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch (2½ cm) ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2/3 cup (180 ml) plain yogurt
  • 4 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon biryani powder
  • ½ teaspoon chilli powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • Salt
  • 18 oz (500 gm) lamb shoulder, cut into 1 inch (2½ cm) pieces
  • 4 tablespoons (60 ml) ghee (use bought, or see the recipe below)
  • ½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Green chillies, chopped (optional)


  • 5 tablespoons (75 ml) ghee
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 2 small cinnamon sticks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups (750 ml) (550 gm) (19½ oz) basmati rice, soaked for 30 minutes and drained


  1. Blend the garlic, ginger, yogurt, coriander, and spices to a smooth paste. Rub the paste into the lamb and leave it to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.
  2. Melt the ghee in a large pot and fry the whole spices until fragrant. Add the onion and cook until golden brown.
  3. Add the meat and any remaining marinade. Cover and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add enough water to just cover the meat. Cover and cook on low heat for 1 hour until the meat is very tender, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t burn. Stir in the green chillies if using.
  4. For the rice, melt the ghee in a separate saucepan on medium high heat and fry the whole spices until lightly brown. Add the onion and fry until golden brown. Add the rice and fry for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in 6 cups (1½ of water, bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain any remaining water.
  5. Assemble the biryani by alternating thin layers of rice and meat in a large saucepan starting and ending with a layer of rice. Cover the pan tightly and cook over very low heat for 10 more minutes.


  • 1 pound (450g) butter
  1. Place butter in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring butter to boil. This takes approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium. The butter will form a foam which will disappear. Ghee is done when a second foam forms on top of butter, and the butter turns golden. Approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Brown milk solids will be in bottom of pan.
  2. Gently pour into heatproof container through fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Store in airtight container being sure to keep free from moisture. Ghee does not need refrigeration and will keep in airtight container for up to 1 month.

Food Photography Info: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ47 / Natural lighting


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