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Mutton Biryani

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This mutton biryani can also be made with quality lamb meat.

There is nothing like a traditional mutton biryani. I’ve been making this recipe for years and it’s a true favourite around my house.

For best results, try to purchase your mutton on the bone. Cooking the meat with or on the bone will make a great mutton biryani into a work of art.


mutton biryani

This mutton biryani is a real treat!

This is a family sized mutton biryani.

I once got to see a massive mutton biryani being prepared for a wedding. It was cooked in a huge pot that was about the same size as a small car. 

I think the chef must of thrown the meat from three sheep into that pot which was then covered with rice and spices and slowly cooked to perfection. 

I have scaled down that recipe here so that you can enjoy authentic mutton biryani at home. If you would like to scale this recipe back up again for a special occasion, go for it!

Lamb vs. Mutton Biryani…

Mutton can be difficult to come by in the west though most good butchers can get if for you. 

The flavour of mutton is deeper than that of lamb though lamb will still work very well with this recipe. 

Whichever you use, ask your butcher to cut the leg into small pieces for you on the bone. By exposing the marrow in the bones, you will get a much better and more authentic tasting sauce. 

Working ahead…

It is essential that you marinate your mutton for at least 24 hours or, better, 48 hours.

This is done not only for flavour but to tenderise the meat. Mutton is not as tender as lamb as it has a lot more muscle.

By marinating the meat for a long period of time, you will not only get a delicious mutton biryani, but the mutton will also be fall apart tender and amazing. 

If you like this recipe, you might also like to try some of these too…

Railway lamb curry
Kashmiri meatball curry
Keralan lamb curry
Keralan quick fried lamb
Staff Curry – Chana gosht

Yield: 6

Indian Food - How To Make A Mutton Biryani

Indian Food - How To Make A Mutton Biryani
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours


  • 4 cups basmati rice
  • 1 good pinch of saffron
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 leg of mutton - meat cut into 3 inch pieces on the bone.
  • 250ml plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoon cumin powder
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1 tablespoon red chilli powder
  • 3 fresh green chillies finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons garlic paste - That’s about 12 cloves mashed into a paste
  • 2 tablespoons ginger paste - About two inches of ginger mashed into a paste
  • 2 tablespoons papaya paste
  • 8 tablespoons ghee 
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 5 black cardamom pods
  • 5 Indian long peppers (Optional) you could also use a tablespoon of black peppercorns
  • Juice of one lime
  • 2 tablespoons cumin powder
  • 2 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 8 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 two inch piece of cassia bark or cinnamon
  • 2 cups fried onions - fry onions in oil until crispy and brown
  • 1 large handful of chopped coriander leaves
  • 1 large handful of chopped mint leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 500ml plain yogurt
  • 3 cloves garlic smashed and finely cut
  • 1 inch ginger grated and finely chopped
  • 3 fresh green chillies finely cut
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh chopped coriander
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. First make the marinade by combining all of the ingredients and blending until smooth.
  2. Coat the meat with the marinade and allow to marinate for as long as possible up to 48 hours.
  3. When ready to cook, remove as much of the marinade from the meat as possible and retain it.
  4. Heat half of the ghee in a large frying pan and brown the meat over high heat. You may need to do this in batches.
  5. When the meat is nicely browned, wipe the pan dry with a paper towel and add the rest of the ghee.
  6. When the ghee has melted and hot, add the cardamom pods, cloves, Indian long peppers (if using) and cassia. Be careful not to burn the spices and turn down the stove if necessary.
  7. After about a minute, add the meat and stir to coat in the spices and ghee.
  8. Add just enough water to cover the meat and the roasted bones. Allow to simmer for about 20 minutes.
  9. Now add the retained marinade, turmeric, cumin, coriander powder and lime juice and stir well.
  11. The rice can of course be cooked earlier while you’re cooking the meat.
  12. First place the rice in a bowl and cover with water. Stir the water around with your hand. The water will turn white from the starch. Repeat about ten times until the water runs clear and then let the rice soak for about half an hour.
  13. Drain one last time and then cover with about 6 cups (1 1/2 litres) of water.
  14. Add the salt and butter to the rice and cover. Bring to a boil and then turn off the heat. Let the rice sit, covered for about 20 minutes.
  15. The rice will not be completely cooked because you will be finishing the cooking with the meat.
  16. Now bring about 150ml of water to a boil and add the saffron. Set aside.
  18. Scoop about half of the rice over the meat mixture and cover with half of the mint leaves, coriander leaves, bay leaves and fried onions.
  19. Place the rest of the rice over this and top with another layer of coriander, mint, bay and onion.
  20. Place a tight fitting lid on the saucepan. If you do not have a large pan with a tight fitting lid, you could make a water and flour dough and line the pan with it before sealing the lid on top. That is how it’s done in India.
  21. Now, over a very low heat, let the mutton biryani simmer and steam for about 40 minutes. If you are worried the sauce could be burning to the bottom of the pan, turn the temperature way down.
  22. After 40 minutes your biryani will be ready to serve. Take it to the table and lift the lid. The room will fill with the amazing aroma of the spices, rice and meat juices.
  23. Now you can ceremoniously pour the saffron water over the top of the rice.
  24. Serve the mutton biryani with the yogurt raita which is made by simply blending the raita incredients until smooth.

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 I hope you enjoy this mutton biryani recipe. If you do try it, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you. 


Saturday 19th of March 2016

Spot on with this write-up, I really believe that this site needs much more attention. I'll probably be returning to read through more, thanks for the information!

Dan Toombs

Friday 8th of July 2016

Thank you very much. :-)


amelia avossa

Tuesday 5th of June 2012

This looks Delish! my partner is half carribean and his family go on about mutton i have NEVER tried it i have heard its cheap and tasty! so i am going to try this RECIPE thankyou..

I LOVE your blog! me and my partner love the recipes a lot :D

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