Monday, 12 December 2016

Lamb Biryani.

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Happy Monday!
How's your day going so far? Alhamdulillah, we finally have a little sunshine here after days of endless cloud. Let's hope it lasts. I love sunny days because they always put me in a good mood. Although for some reason, I prefer cloudy days for shooting food photos. Somehow, the light is always a little better and not too harsh.

I hope you had a good weekend and are ready to begin a new week. I spent the weekend doing plenty of cleaning and was surprised to find how good and organised it made me feel afterwards. Plenty of hot chocolate was enjoyed and we also finally had a roast on a Sunday. Mum made her spicy lemon roast chicken which was so good that I had to immediately note down the recipe before she forgot it. On the side, were these dishes and that gravy was so good, I could have drank it. A sign of a good gravy, I'm sure.
Today, brown daal and this cake are on the agenda but not before I tell you all about this lamb biryani. We first made it on Eid-ul-Adha and have been wanting to make it again ever since.
The biryani has three stages - the rice, the lamb and the assembly. All three are pretty simple to do if a little time consuming. But in my defence, it's not everyday that you make a biryani. One thing that we did do for Eid, was make the biryani the day before. It always tastes better the next day once the flavour has had time to mature. Perfect when you want to get ahead on your cooking.

Biryani, previously: the laziest chicken biryani // pakistani chicken biryani // chicken sindhi biryani // keema biryani // chicken tikka biryani

A Simple List of Ingredients:
1. Basmati Rice
2. Lamb Pieces
3. Red Chilli Powder
4. Lemon
5. Ground Coriander
6. Onions
7. Ground Cumin
8. Tomato
9. Green Chilli
10. Ground Turmeric
11. Plain Yoghurt
12. Cumin Seeds
13. Bay Leaves
14. Cinnamon Stick
15. Black Cardamom
16. Cloves
17. Black Peppercorns
18. Vegetable Oil
19. Salt
20. Vinegar
21. Ginger Paste
22. Garlic Paste
23. Yellow Food Colour Powder
24. Milk
25. Dried Plums

Bismillah, let's begin!

First, let's par-boil the rice. Wash and rinse 425g Basmati Rice in a few changes of water until the water runs clear, not cloudy. Let the rice soak in more water whilst you boil some water in a large pan.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil.

Drain and add in the rice and 1 teaspoon Salt.

Bring the water back to the boil. Once it's boiling ....

... set a timer for 5 minutes and turn the heat right down to let the rice cook.

As soon as the timer has gone off, drain the rice well. The rice should not be fully cooked at this point. It should still have some bite to it. Set the rice until needed.

Now that we've taken care of our rice, let's make the lamb masala. Heat plenty of Vegetable Oil in a large, deep pan.

Add in 1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds and let them sizzle.

Then, take 2 large Onions.

Give them a peel and a slice.

And add to the hot, cumin-scented oil.

Stir-fry the onions until they are golden and soft.

Like this! These onions smelt so good when we were cooking this biryani.

Once the onions are ready, take out half.

And, set them aside for later.

To the rest of the onions in the pan, we're going to add some whole spices. They are:
3 Bay Leaves
1 inch Cinnamon Stick
8 Cloves
8 Black Peppercorns
2 Black Cardamoms

You may add them in whole but we like to grind them up.

In go the spices!

Fry them for a minute or two.

Then, add in a splash of Water.

Stir in the water ... 

... and let everything sizzle for a few minutes.

Whilst we slice 1 Tomato and 1 Green Chilli.

Then, add them to the pan.

Along with 5 Dried Plums. I would have added in more but we ran out! Ps. Do be aware that these contain stones in the middle!

Stir-fry until the oil rises to the surface.

Next, let's stir together the yoghurt spice mixture. Into a bowl, place:
300g Plain Yoghurt
1 teaspoon Ginger Paste
1 teaspoon Garlic Paste
2 teaspoons Salt
1/4 teaspoon Ground Turmeric
1 teaspoon Red Chilli Powder
1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
1 teaspoon Ground Coriander

Stir together.

Turn the heat of the pan to the lowest and add in the yoghurt mixture.

Stir the yoghurt mixture in. We do this on a low heat so that it doesn't curdle.

Once the yoghurt is stirred in, turn up the heat slightly and stir-fry until the oil rises to the surface.

Like this! Do you see those bits of oil on top of the sauce? That is the oil that has risen. Always a good sign!

Time for the lamb! Add in 500g Mixed Lamb Pieces, on the bone. We used a mixture of neck, leg and chops but any will do. You can use boneless too but we like lamb on the bone.

Stir-fry the lamb until it loses its pink colour and the sauce begins to cling to the meat.

Pour in 170ml Water.

Stir in and bring to the boil.

Cover the pan with a lid and turn the heat to the lowest. Let the lamb cook for about 30-35 minutes or until tender. Make sure you give it a stir every now and then.

Once the lamb is cooked, we can assemble our biryani. Turn the heat right down to the lowest.

And, grab the rice!

Place all the rice onto the lamb masala.

To colour, take 1/2 teaspoon Yellow Food Colour Powder.

And, stir together with a few tablespoons Milk.

Drizzle the milk mixture over the rice.

Dot over 1 Lemon, sliced into rounds.

Sprinkle on the reserved fried onions.

Drizzle on a few tablespoons of Vinegar. This gives an extra tang to the biryani which we love.

It's time to steam the biryani!

Cover the pan with a lid.

Place a heavy object onto the lid. Turn the heat to high for 1 minute until you can hear the bubbling in the pot. Then, turn the heat to the lowest and let the biryani steam for 20 minutes.

Once the 20 minutes are up, let the biryani sit off the heat for 10 minutes. Then, uncover!

Look at that! We just made a biryani! Well done!

I'm obsessed with all things fresh and green so sprinkled on Chopped Fresh Coriander.

Gently give the biryani a toss and then, we can serve.

I love this recipe because it's quite simple to prepare but really makes a statement. The addition of the lemon, vinegar and dried plums give the biryani a real sour tang which we love. As always with a biryani, it tastes better the next day once the flavour has matured. 

Full Written Recipe:

Lamb Biryani.

Prep Time: About 15 minutes.
Cook Time: About 2 hours.
Serves: About 6 people.


For the Rice
425g (2 cups or 15 ounces) Basmati Rice
1 teaspoon Salt
Water, to boil

For the Lamb Masala
Few tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
2 large Onions, peeled and sliced
3 Bay Leaves
1 inch Cinnamon Stick
8 Black Peppercorns
8 Cloves
2 Black Cardamoms
Water, as needed
1 Tomato, sliced
1 Green Chilli, sliced
5 Dried Plums
300g (10 ounces) Plain Yoghurt
1 teaspoon Ginger Paste
1 teaspoon Garlic Paste
2 teaspoons Salt
1/4 teaspoon Ground Turmeric
1 teaspoon Red Chilli Powder
1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
1 teaspoon Ground Coriander
500g (1 pound + 2 ounces) Mixed Lamb Pieces, on the bone

To assemble the Biryani
1/2 teaspoon Yellow Food Colour Powder
Few tablespoons Milk
1 Lemon, sliced into rounds
Reserved Fried Onions
Few tablespoons Vinegar
Fresh Coriander, chopped

Par-boil the rice:
Wash and soak the rice until the water runs clear. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Once it's boiling, add the salt and drained rice. Bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn the heat right down and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside until needed.

Make the lamb masala:
Heat the vegetable oil in a deep, wide pan. Once hot, add in the cumin seeds and fry for a minute. Add in the sliced onions and fry until golden and soft. Take out half the fried onions and set aside for later.

Grind together the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, cloves and black cardamoms. You may also add them in whole, if you prefer. Add the spice mix to the pan and fry with the remaining onions. Stir-fry and add a splash of water. Let everything bubble and the water evaporate.

Throw in the sliced tomato, sliced green chilli and dried plums. Stir-fry until the oil begins to rise. In a bowl, stir together the yoghurt, ginger paste, garlic paste, salt, ground turmeric, red chilli powder, ground cumin and ground coriander.

Turn the heat of the pan down and add in the yoghurt mixture. Stir together then turn the heat up. Stir-fry until the oil rises to the surface. Then, add in the lamb pieces and stir-fry until the sauce begins to cling to the lamb. Pour in 170ml water and stir. Bring to the boil and then cover. Turn the heat down and cook until the lamb is tender. Ours took around 30-35 minutes.

Assemble the biryani:
Uncover the lamb and leave it on a low heat. Place all the rice on top of it. Mix together the yellow food colour and milk. Drizzle over the rice. Add on the lemon, fried onions and vinegar.

Steam the biryani:
Cover the pan with a lid and place a heavy object on top. Turn the heat to high for 1 minute then turn to the lowest and leave to steam for 20 minutes.

Serve the biryani:
Let the biryani sit off the heat for 10 minutes. Then, gently toss it together. It will be delicious straight away but is even better the next day.

Recipe Notes:
  • We used a mixture of lamb leg, chops and neck. Any lamb pieces will do as long as it's on the bone.
  • You can add salt and red chilli powder to taste. I do like to add more salt than normal in a biryani because rice needs salt.

Your Photos:

This Time One Year Ago:

This Time Three Years Ago:
date and walnut squares.

This Time Four Years Ago:
bombay vegetables.

Keep me in your duas please, and enjoy your biryani!

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!

Spice Enthusiast


  1. Can I add potatoes? and if so when should I add potatoes?

    1. Yes, you can. I would add them about 10-15 minutes before the lamb pieces are fully cooked.

  2. Salam! Which dahi/raita recipe do you recommend with this? Trying this tomorrow IA for a friend that’s visiting! 😊duas plz! 😅also I could say so much but sis Faatimah your blog is AN OUT OF THIS WORLD LIFESAVER!!! From all of us daughters-who-ignored-our-mother’s-calls-from-the-kitchen-and-then-learned-our-lesson-after-marriage (😣sorry Mom)...JazakAllahu khayran for this awesome thing you’re doing! May Allah reward you for every letter and picture you have to type and upload on here! It’s seriously such a help alhamdulillah! Thank you!

    1. Wasalaam, I have an amazing green yoghurt chutney and cucumber onion raita on my blog which would both be really good with this biryani. Ameen to your lovely duas and I'm so glad you find my blog useful.

  3. Can you please specify how many tablespoons of vinegar we should add. I love your recipes and make them all the time, but I am making this one for the first time and I am not from your culture so asking me to guess the amount is potentially a recipe for disaster! :) Please do it soon as I want to make it in a couple days. Thanks!!! And continue posting new recipes. :)

  4. Just tried your recipe and I like the fact that you put the lamb masala at the bottom of the pot. I usually put it between two layers of rice and the rice burns a bit at the bottom. I left it a bit too long and the masala burnt

    1. Yes, we usually put the masala at the bottom. If I'm making a bigger batch with rice at the bottom, I like to add a splash of water first to ensure nothing sticks. You may even line your pot with foil too.

  5. Asalamu Alaikum sister. First of all, jazakallah khair for this recipe. It’s wonderful and my new favourite. Easy yet absolutely delicious. Sister just wanted to ask if you have considered the permissibility of wine vinegar. Vinegar is a sunnah food but when the same is made from wine (rather than it having become wine at one stage during the process naturally) it becomes HARAM in my knowledge. So wine vinegars, spirit vinegars or anything containing such vinegars (example most mayonaise, tomato ketchups, etc.) would not be halal. Just thought it was my duty to say this I am sure you make every effort to cook a Halal meal MashaAllah. May Allah guide us on the right path and forgive us for our shortcomings. Aameen. Much love and thank you for this recipe once again. May allah reward you.

    1. Wa alaikumus salaam Nafia. I'm so glad you enjoyed the lamb biryani. As far as I am aware, wine vinegars are halal to consume because the wine has gone through a chemical process to become vinegar. Therefore, no trace of the alcohol remains.

  6. Assalamualeikum

    Jazakillah kheir for the website and recipes. It is a lot of effort and us readers really apprreciate it.

    I just wantyed to add the following as food for thought. Forgive the pun ;)

    Anas reported that Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) was asked about the use of Khamr from which vinegar is prepared. He said:
    No (it is prohibited). (Sahih Muslim)
    Taken from:

    Anas b. Malik said :
    Abu Talhah asked the prophet (ﷺ) about the orphans who had inherited wine. He replied: Pour it out. He asked: May I not make vinegar of it ? He replied : No.
    (Abu Dawud)
    Taken from:

    wa aleikum salam

    1. Thank you for letting me know. However, as far as I am aware, wine vinegar is halal to consume because the vinegar goes through a chemical process whereby all the elements that make alcohol haraam are removed.

    2. A good explanation on vinegars(and other foods) can be found here for those posting comments about the vinegar.

  7. Would this recipe work if you replaced the lamb for chicken?

    1. Yes, it will work. The chicken will take less time to cook though.

  8. When do you add salt to the meat or sauce?


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