Pakistani Lamb (or Goat) Biryani

  • Servings : 8
  • Prep Time : 25m
  • Cook Time : 1m
  • Ready In : 1m


  • 5 cups basmati rice
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil
  • 16 whole cloves
  • 8 black cardamom pods
  • 8 cinnamon sticks (I use 8 small ones or 5 large ones)
  • 8 large onions, sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons garlic paste (or mashed with mortar and pestle)
  • 2 tablespoons ginger paste (or mashed with mortar and pestle)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 2 pounds lamb or goat, cut into small pieces (with or without bone)
  • Salt to taste
  • 6 tomatoes, chopped (or 1 1/2 28 ounce cans chopped tomatoes with juice)
  • 4 chili pepers, halved lengthwise (reduce number to reduce heat, or remove seeds)
  • 4 teaspoons ground red pepper
  • 4 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 5 1/2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon saffron
  • 4 tablespoons warm milk


Step 1

Place lamb (or goat) with just enough water to cover it in a pressure cooker, season with salt (about 3 good pinches) and cook until pressure cooker goes off. Set aside, including the juices.

Step 2

Place the basmati rice in a large container (I use my rice cooker) and cover with cool water; let stand 30 minutes, then drain.

Step 3

Heat 1/2 cup oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat; fry the cloves, cardamom pods, and cinnamon sticks in the hot oil until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Step 4

Add the onions; cook and stir until the onions are lightly browned.

Step 5

Stir the garlic paste and ginger paste into the onion mixture; cook until the garlic and ginger is fragrant, about 1 minute. Sprinkle the cilantro and mint over the mixture and cook 1 more minute.

Step 6

Add the lamb meat (not the juices) to the skillet; season with salt. Cook and stir about 20 minutes.

Step 7

Stir the tomatoes, green chili peppers, and ground red pepper into the mixture; continue cooking until the oil begins to separate from the gravy, about 10 more minutes.

Step 8

Add the yogurt and lemon juice. Cover and cook until the lamb is tender, about 15 minutes. Add lamb juices as necessary to keep the mixture from getting too dry.

Step 9

In a small bowl, combine the saffron and the warm milk and stir to mix. Set aside.

Step 10

In a rice cooker or pot, bring the rice, 5 1/2 cups of water plus the remaining lamb juices and 1 teaspoon of salt to a boil until the rice is nearly done but still a little chewy, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain any excess water.

Step 11

In a very deep pot with a lid, layer about half the rice in the bottom. Spoon the lamb mixture over the rice, then spoon the remaining rice on top of the lamb mixture. Pour the saffron and milk mixture over the top layer of rice.

Step 12

Cover the pot with the lid and place the pot over low heat; cook until the rice is thoroughly cooked, about 10-15 minutes more.

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