Moglai biriani

Moglai biriani

Moghul biriani

The Complete Asian Cookbook
Alan Benson

Biriani is a very rich pilau, usually layered with a spicy mutton or chicken savoury mixture and steamed very gently so that the flavours blend. It is the masterpiece of many Eastern cooks and the central dish at festive dinners. Here is a recipe for a lamb biriani, suitable for serving at a party. Halve all quantities for a smaller number of people; cooking times stay the same.


Quantity Ingredient
2kg boned leg of lamb, trimmed of fat
100g ghee
3 large onions, sliced
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely chopped
120g indian curry powder
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 fresh red chillies, left whole
10g fresh mint, chopped
4 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves, chopped, to garnish
2 quantities Yakhni pilau, using lamb shanks
1 tablespoon ghee


  1. To make the lamb savoury, cut the lamb into large cubes. Heat the ghee in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook until soft and golden. Add the curry powder and cook for 1 minute further, then add the salt, lemon juice and lamb and cook, stirring constantly, until it is well coated in the spice mixture. Add the garam masala, cardamom, whole chillies, mint and tomato. Cover and cook over low heat for approximately 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until the lamb is tender and the gravy is very thick and almost dry. Remove from the heat remove and discard the chillies. Sprinkle with the chopped coriander leaves.
  2. Make the yakhni pilau using lamb shanks to make the stock — although you are doubling the ingredients the cooking times are the same. When the pilau is cooked, allow to cool slightly.
  3. Preheat the oven to 160ºC. To assemble the biriani, heat the ghee in a large ovenproof casserole dish and spoon in one-third of the pilau, packing it lightly. Spread half of the lamb savoury over the top, making sure it goes right to the edges of the casserole. Cover with half of the remaining pilau. Repeat this layering to finish with a layer of pilau. Cover the casserole and cook in the oven for 20–30 minutes. Leave the biriani in the dish or turn out onto a large serving tray. Garnish as for the yakhni pilau.


  • For special occasions, add blanched pistachios and edible silver leaf to the garnish in traditional Indian style.
The Complete Asian Cookbook
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