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Beef Biryani

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This Pakistani style beef biryani with bone marrow recipe is perfect party grub!

If you’ve tried my other biryani recipes, you are going to want to experience this beef biryani too. Biryanis just don’t get any better.

Here you will learn how to make one of my favourite beef biryani recipes. It’s easy, delicious and an excellent, even inexpensive way to serve the family or a party of friends.

Beef Biryani

Great for a crowd! This recipe can be up or downscaled easily.

About this beef biryani recipe

This is a feast of a biryani that is a lot of fun to serve hungry family and friends. Although any cheap cut of braising steak will do, I like to use chuck which is from the upper shoulder. It does take some time to become tender but chuck offers a good amount of fat and fat means flavour!

I also like to add a couple of marrow bones and then stir all that amazing, buttery marrow into the sauce. Nowadays, orange food colouring is added at many street stalls and restaurants. 

Do you have to use the orange food colouring?

Absolutely not! In fact, the colouring is there for presentation only and adds no flavour.

I normally just use orange food colouring powder mixed with a little water. That is how you do it in the recipe below. In the photos, I tried a different way whisking yoghurt and orange food colouring together as a friend suggested trying this. In my opinion, the water works best and only needs to be drizzled over some of the rice.

Can you work ahead?

Yes. All of the preparation work like cutting the meat and vegetables can be done a day or two ahead of time.

You can par-cook the rice a day or so before steaming in the final biryani. Cool the par-cooked rice down as quickly as you can and then place it in the fridge, covered tightly. You can also prepare the beef and sauce and store it in the fridge too.

Then you just need to bring the meaty sauce up to a simmer, add the rice and garnishes and steam it until the rice is cooked through.

Can you scale this beef biryani recipe up or down?

Yes. The recipe below is much smaller than the beef biryani I prepared for the step by step photos. Feel free to scale this recipe up or down as required. 

If doing this, be sure to taste the meaty sauce before adding the rice. You can adjust the flavours and make it perfect for your own personal taste preference.

How long can you keep beef biryani in the fridge?

You can store leftovers covered tightly in the fridge for 3 days or perhaps even a couple more days. Then just heat it up in your microwave. If cold from the fridge, you could also fry it in a couple tablespoons of oil until heated through.

Can beef biryani be frozen?

Yes. Just freeze it in portion sizes that are convenient for your requirements. Then place it, covered tightly with cling film in your microwave and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until steaming hot.

Pro Tips

  1. Rinse your rice well!: In is really important that you wash your rice in 3 or more changes of water. This will produce a much better rice, fluffy rice when cooked. When you first start, the water will be milky from all the starch. Wash your rice until the water runs almost clean. 
  2. Taste, taste, taste!: Everyone has their own taste preferences and you are in charge of the final flavour. Simmer the beef with all the other ingredients and then taste it and adjust as necessary before adding the rice.
  3. The final cooking: Once you have your sauce right and it’s covered with rice and all the flavourful garnishes, be sure to simmer and steam it over a low heat. If the heat is too high, you might scorch the sauce and burn it at the bottom. 

Bonus Tip

  1. Don’t stir too hard: Basmati rice has a tendency to become mushy if stirred to hard. Simply stir the finished biryani from the bottom, carefully and not too rigourously. 



Step by step photos


Ingredients for beef biryani.

Get all your ingredients together before starting. There are a lot of them so it will be much easier if you prepare!

Frying the beef and beef bones with the whole spices.

Brown the meat and bones in the oil for a couple of minutes and then pour in the whole spices and stir well to combine.

Adding the ground spices to the pot.

Stir in the curry leaves and ground spices and stir again to combine and coat the meat and bones.

Whisking the orange food colouring with yoghurt. You can also mix the colouring with water.

While the meat is browning, you can whisk the orange food colouring with water or yoghurt. This step is optional.

Adding rice to the stewing beef.

Stir in the sliced limes and tomatoes with a handful of onions and herbs. Simmer the beef in the water until it is fork tender. The add half the colouring, if using and half the par-cooked rice.

First layer of the biryani with rice, herbs and fried onions.

Spread the rice over the top and then top with half of the fresh herbs and fried onions.

Second layer of the biryani with the remaining rice, herbs and fried onion. Also with drizzled oil and kewra water.

Top with the remaining rice, herbs and fried onions. If you have any tomatoes or limes left over, throw them on too. Then drizzle the seasoned oil and kewra water over the top.

Covering the pot to simmer and steam the rice for 15 minutes

Cover and simmer and steam for about 15 minutes over a low heat.

Finished beef biryani

After 15 minutes, uncover and ensure the rice is cooked through. Then carefully stir it from the bottom and serve.

beef biryani

Dig in! You will love this beef biryani served with a raita. 

If you like this beef biryani recipe, you might like to try some of these too.

Pakistani Chickpea Biryani
Chicken Biryani
Keema Biryani
Lamb Biryani
Mushroom Biryani
Jasmine Rice
Perfect No-Fail Basmati Rice
Lemon Fried Rice
Onion Fried Rice
Cumin (Jeera) Rice
Gunpowder (Podi) Rice
Green (Coriander) Rice
Mushroom Fried Rice
Saffron Rice
Almond Rice
Pilau Rice
Egg Fried Rice

Have you tried this beef biryani recipe?

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Yield: 6 - 8

Beef Biryani

beef biryani
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes


  • 250ml (1 cup) rapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 large onions, thinly sliced or a couple handfuls of shop-bought fried onions
  • 5 green cardamom pods, lightly smashed
  • 3 black cardamom pods (optional)
  • ½ tsp cloves
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 x 5cm (2 inch) cinnamon stick
  • 1 kg (2 lbs) chuck steak (braising steak) cut into large bite sized pieces
  • 3 beef marrow bones, cut about six inches long
  • 20 fresh or frozen curry leaves
  • 1 - 2 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder (more or less to taste)
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground mace
  • 1 tbsp red chilli flakes
  • 1 large handful fresh coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped
  • 1 large handful mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 4 tbsp garlic, ginger and chilli paste
  • 3 large tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 3 limes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 – 10 green bird’s eye chillies, left whole and added to heat preference
  • 250g (1 cup) plain yoghurt, whisked until smooth
  • 1L (4 ¼ cups) water
  • 1 tsp orange food colouring powder mixed with about 4 tbsp water (optional)
  • 3 tbsp kewra water (optional)
  • 1 kg (5 cups) long grain premium quality Basmati rice
  • 3 tbsp salt
  • 4 green cardamom pods, lightly smashed


  1. Rinse the rice in several changes of water. At first, the water will look quite milky because of all the startch on the rice. As you rinse it, the water will be almost clear. Strain and then cover with fresh water to soak for at least 30 minutes.
  2. While the rice is soaking, start preparing the biryani sauce and meat. Pour the oil into a large sauce pot over a medium-high heat. When it is visibly hot, add the sliced onions and salt and stir well. Continue frying for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the onions are beginning to turn a deep golden brown. Transfer the fried onions to a plate and pour out and retain all but about 3 tbps of the oil from your pot.
  3. Don’t throw the cooking oil away as you will need some of it later and any leftovers are great used in a curry!
  4. Add the cubed beef and marrow bones to the remaining oil in the pot and stir to brown for a couple of minutes. Pour in the whole spices and curry leaves and stir well into the oil and meat. Then add the yoghurt, garlic, ginger and chilli paste, the sliced tomatoes, sliced limes, whole chillies, if using and the ground spices. Stir this all up well to combine and coat the meat.
  5. Pour in the water. You want to just cover the meat so that you can still see some peeking out. Bring to a simmer and then continue cooking for about an hour or until the meat is super tender and can be cut easily with a fork.
  6. While you’re waiting for the meat to become tender you can start preparing the rice. Bring about 3 liters of water to a boil and stir in the salt and cardamom pods. Pour in the soaked rice and simmer for about 6 to 7 minutes or until the rice is about 70% cooked. Strain the par-cooked rice, retaining about 125ml (1/2 cup) of the cooking water and set aside.
  7. When the meat is nice and tender, try the sauce and add salt to taste. I often add a little more salt than necessary so that when I stir the biryani up with the rice at the end of cooking, it's perfectly savoury.
  8. Cover the sauce with half of the par-cooked rice. Top the rice with a finely chopped coriander and mint and some of the fried onions. Then pour in the remaining rice and again top this layer with fried onions, coriander and mint leaves.
  9. If you are using orange food colouring, drizzle some of it over the rice. This will produce a good mixture of white and orange rice grains but you really can leave it out if you like.
  10. Drizzle about 125ml (1/2 cup) of the seasoned oil and 3 tbsp kewra water over the top of the rice.
  11. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid. Bring to a simmer over a medium-high heat and then turn the heat down to low to simmer for another 15 minutes.
  12. Lift the lid and dig deep into the biryani with a large spoon and carefully stir the sauce at the bottom into the steamed rice. Do this until you have stirred it all together but do not stir to vigorously or you will split the rice and it will become mushy. Serve immediately.


You can skip frying the onions at the beginning of this recipe and use shop-bought fried onions. If you do that though, you won't get the flavoured oil which is great used in this biryani and other curries.

The garlic ginger and chilli paste is just as it sounds. Make some garlic and ginger paste by blended equal amounts of garlic and ginger together in just enough water to make a paste. Then add as few or as many green chillies as you like and blend again.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 276Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 3107mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 13g

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Saturday 30th of March 2024

Hi, I have made this a couple of times and the flavours are really good. And will make it again I'm sure.

I need some help with the liquid and sauce levels. I am adding very little water to cover the meat. But then at the end the 5 cups of par boiled rice absorbs everything. 5 cups of rice seems to me to be an enormous amount of rice. The dish looks like it would serve 15 people at least. Left overs end up very dry as there is no sauce.

Any tips appreciated.

Dan Toombs

Wednesday 17th of April 2024

You can add more liquid at any time if you think it’s too dry. The amount of liquid to add isn’t an exact science so add what you think you need. It is a recipe that feeds a lot of people, Thanks Dan


Wednesday 7th of February 2024

Fantastic recipe, sooo tasty

Dan Toombs

Friday 9th of February 2024

Thanks very much Dan


Tuesday 5th of September 2023

How many sliced tomatoes, Dan, I can't see them listed on the ingredients, nor the curry paste? Currently defrosting braising steak to try this tonight (for tomorrow!)

Dan Toombs

Wednesday 6th of September 2023

Hi Sorry about that, I will amend the ingredient list but use 3 tomatoes. I am not sure what you mean about curry paste however as there isn't any in it? Thanks very much Dan


Friday 25th of August 2023

Definitely one too try

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 5th of September 2023

Thank you! It has been very popular. Dan

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