Biryani Recipe – The taste of India

No dish in India creates as much excitement and yearning as the Biryani nor as much heated debate about their individual virtues and shortcomings. With its beautiful blend of meat, spices, aromas and rice, it is the first dish that comes to mind when planning festivities and celebrations in just about any social gathering. With the heady aroma that emanates from it, it is truly a dish fit for the Gods.

As with everything else about India, Biryani is cooked differently in different parts of the Country. The choice of meat, the cuts used, the spices and flavorings and also the kind of rice used, varies from region to region. The two basic classifications of Biryani is the Kacchi (raw meat marinated in spices and yogurt cooked with raw rice) and Pakki (meat cooked in spices is mixed with par- cooked rice and cooked further).

Pakki biryani

Biryani in North India is very different from the versions made in the South. It is widely believed that the Moghuls introduced Biryani to the North whereas South Indian Biryani was inspired by the Arab traders. It flourished in Muslim centers across the country and gradually found its way into the hearts and kitchens of the nation.

There are diehard fans of 3 versions of Biryani – The Lucknow biryani, Hyderabad biryani and Kolkata biryani. Here we present to you all the three recipes and let you be the judge and decide on your favorite.

Lucknowi Biryani: Slightly subtle in its taste, it is easily identified by its yellow and white rice layered with succulent pieces of mutton or chicken.


  • 500 grams Chicken
  • 1 kg Basmati rice


  • 1 tbsp. red chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp. coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp. cumin powder
  • ½ tbsp. turmeric powder
  • 2 chopped green chilies
  • 2 tsp. garlic paste
  • 2 tsp ginger paste
  • 4 tbsp. crushed fried onions (finely chop them and deep fry till golden brown and crispy)
  • 2 cups yogurt
  • 2 crushed mace
  • Salt to taste

For cooking chicken:

  • 1 tbsp. coriander leaves
  • 1 tbsp. mint leaves
  • 7 tbsp. Ghee
  • 1 inch stick cinnamon
  • 4 cardamoms
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 bay leaf

For the Garnish

  • 3 tbsp. saffron infused milk
  • 2 tbsp. coriander leaves
  • 2 tbsp. mint leaves
  • 5 tbsp. fried onions


  1. Marinate the chicken pieces for a minimum of two hours with the ingredients under marinade.
  2. Wash and soak the rice in water for at least 1 hour. Add the rice in boiling water with salt, 2 tsp. shahi jeera, 2 star anise and par boil it till the rice is half done. Strain and keep aside uncovered to cool.
  3. In a kadai add ghee and sauté the whole garam masalas (under cooking chicken). Add the marinated chicken and cook till tender.
  4. Garnish it with coriander and mint leaves, give it a gentle stir to infuse its flavour in the meat and keep aside for 15 mins.
  5. In a heavy and deep bottomed vessel, add a little ghee. Place the chicken pieces evenly and layer it with the half cooked rice and top it with ingredients under garnish.
  6. Cover with a heavy lid or place a heavy weight on the lid and cook at low heat (dum) for approximately 20 mins.
  7. Serve hot with some refreshing cold raita.


Hyderabadi Biryani more intense in flavour and spices, the Hyderabadi dum biryani will keep you salivating for more. It can be made in both Pakki and Kacchi styles. Here we use the Kacchi style of preparation.


  • 1 kg mutton
  • 500 grams Basmati rice

For Garam Masala mix:

  • ½ tsp. Shahi jeera
  • 4 small sticks cinnamon
  • 8 green cardamom
  • 4 cloves
  •  20 Black peppercorn
  • A piece of mace and nutmeg

For marinade:

  • 100 gm yogurt
  • 6 chopped green chilies
  • 1 tbsp. ginger garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp. red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp. coriander  powder
  • 1 tbsp. cumin  powder
  • 2 tsp garam masala mix (The recipe is above )
  • Fried onion of 4 medium onions
  • 1 cup chopped coriander leaves
  • 1 cup chopped pudina leaves
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsps. salt
  • Raw papaya juice 5 tbsp. or meat tenderizer
  • 4 tbsp. Ghee/ clarified butter

For rice :

  • 4 cloves
  • 4 cardamoms
  • 2 black cardamom
  • 2″ cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 8 black pepper corns
  • Nutmeg and mace
  • salt
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  •  2 tsp shahi jeera or caraway seeds
  • water as required


  • Fried Onions in large quantity
  • Saffron infused milk
  • Ghee/ clarified butter


  • Roast and grind ingredients under Garam Masala to make fine powder.
  • Marinate the mutton in the marinade ingredients and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
  • Wash the rice and soak it for at least ½ an hour.
  • In a large pan, take good amount of water and heat. Bundle up the spices under rice preparation in a small cloth and tie it up and drop it in the water.
  • Add shahi jeera, salt and oil to the water and bring to boil.
  • Add the rice to the boiling water and cook for 1-2 mins. Remove half the rice and keep aside. This will go as the first layer of rice over the meat.
  • Continue cooking the remaining rice until the water boils again and drain immediately. Save some of the drained water for later use. Keep the rice uncovered to cool.
  • Start layering the dish. Use a thick bottomed deep vessel and place the meat on the base of the dish. Add the water saved from the drained rice. This is required to cook the meat and will keep it tender and moist.
  • Layer the meat with the rice that was cooked for only 1-2 mins. Spread Fried onions, saffron milk, and ghee and the ground garam masala powder over the rice layer.
  • Top it with the 2nd layer of rice and spread the remaining fried onions, saffron milk, ghee, mint and coriander leaves.
  • After the layering, make sure to leave ¼ of the vessel free for steam to collect and aid in cooking.
  • Place a heavy lid on top and cook for 5 mins in high flame, then another 15 mins in reduced heat and reduce it further to sim and cook for another 30 mins.
  • Serve hot with some cold raita .

Kolkata Biryani : Inspired by the Lucknowi/Awadhi Style, it was brought to Kolkata by the exiled Nawab of Lucknow, Wajid Ali Shah in 1856. Rose water, Kewra and saffron in the rice gives it a distinctive taste and the use of potatoes adds a new dimension to the dish.

kolkatta biryani

  • 1 kg mutton
  • 500 grams Basmati rice, washed and soaked in water for at least 30 mins.

Garam masala mix

  • 2” cinnamon stick
  • 6-7 cloves
  • 3-4 green cardamom
  • 1/10th of a nutmeg
  • 1/2”mace
  • 1 tsp. shahi jeera
  • 1 tsp. white peppercorn


  • 2 tbsp. ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp. garlic paste
  • 4 potatoes halved
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 2 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
  • Few drops of rose water
  • Few drops Kewra essence
  • Few strands of saffron soaked in 3 tbsp. warm milk
  • Salt
  • Sugar


  1. Grind the garam masala and keep aside.
  2. Boil the soaked rice in surplus water adding some salt, 2 green cardamom, 1”cinnamon, 2-3 cloves. Cook till almost done, drain the water and keep the rice aside uncovered to cool.
  3. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan and fry onions till brown.
  4. Add mutton and fry on high heat for a few minutes to sear the meat.
  5. Add ginger and garlic paste and cook till the raw smell goes away.
  6. Now add the chilies and yogurt and sauté for a few minutes.
  7. Tip over the potatoes, salt and sugar and cook till the potatoes are 90% done. Set aside the potatoes for later use.
  8. Add water and cook for at least 40 mins till the mutton is done or transfer to a pressure cooker for quick cooking.
  9. For the assembling, use a heavy bottomed deep pan and grease the sides with ghee.
  10. Use ½ the rice to make the first layer and over it add the mutton and potatoes and garnish it with the saffron infused milk, rose and kewra water and the ground garam masala.
  11. Top it with the remaining layer of rice and make sure that there is at least 1/3 space left on top of the pan. Cover with a heavy lid and cook on low heat (sim) for 20-30 mins. Let sit for another 30 mins before serving.
  12. Serve with some refreshing raita.


Learn many more traditional recipes by staying in CheersBye homestays.

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