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  • Mutton Biryani – Kerala Style

    Posted on | February 27, 2008 | 59 Comments |

    We have ongoing arguments in our household as to who the better cook is. Now we all know there is really no argument there ;) but I have to admit that there are a few dishes – when I say few, I mean single digits :D – that Siv is better at. For example he makes the best fish curry in the world, and I am not exaggerating. He also makes some mean crab dishes too. With chicken, mutton etc we both have our own masterpieces, but if it was an iron chef competition, my cuisine will reign supreme I am sure. Well, modesty is not one of my strongest qualities. We even do some iron chef style competitions once in a while, where we pick an ingredient for the night and each cook one dish. There are no judges or prizes or anything like that, but it sure is fun.

    When it comes to biryani, it still is an open issue as to whose is better. Our biryanis are totally different in taste, technique and appearance. He makes the authentic Tamil style biryani in the pressure cooker, a truly one pot dish. I have a few different biryani recipes, but my favorite is a Kerala biryani very loosely based on a recipe from Flavors of the spice coast, and it is a multi-step, multi-pot process. We both love each other’s biryanis, but each still believe our own version is better. Well you be the judge, Siv’s version was blogged long time ago, and here is my version of Mutton Biryani – Kerala style. Don’t panic seeing the large set of ingredients, and the long list of ingredients. I have been making this for a long time, and have simplified the process as much as I can over the years.

    mutton biryani


    • 3 cups Basmati rice
    • 3 tbsp lemon juice
    • Salt to taste
    • 1.5 lb goat or lamb meat cut into large pieces (with bone is better)
    • 5 cardamom pods
    • 2 star anise
    • 10 cloves
    • 1″ piece of cinnamon
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 cup diced onions
    • 1.5 tbsp ginger paste
    • 1 tbsp garlic paste
    • For spice paste
      • 1.5 tsp red chili powder
      • 2 tbsp coriander powder
      • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
    • 3 green chillies slit
    • 1 cup diced tomatoes
    • 1/4 cup packed coriander leaves
    • 1/2 cup yogurt
    • To Grind
      • 2 tbsp cashew nuts
      • 1/4 cup grated coconut
    • salt to taste
    • 3 tsp oil/ghee
    • For garnish
      • 1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
      • fried cashews and raisins for garnish


    Wash and soak the rice for 30 minutes.

    In a large pot, place the mutton pieces along with the cardamom pods, star anise, cloves, cinnamon and bay leaves with enough water to cover the mutton pieces. Cover and bring to a boil, and cook for about 20 minutes on medium high, till the mutton pieces are soft.

    In another large pan, heat 1 tsp oil and fry all the ingredients for the garnish one by one. Fry the sliced onions till it starts to caramelize, then fry the cashews till brown and raisins till plump, and keep these aside.

    In the same pan, add another tsp of the oil, and add the diced onions and fry well till soft. Add the ginger and garlic paste and saute for a couple of minutes.

    Mix all the ingredients listed under the spice paste section with some water to make a paste. Ad this paste to the pan, and fry on low heat till the spice paste is aromatic.

    Increase the heat to medium high and add the diced tomatoes, and fry till the oil starts to separate.

    Transfer the cooked mutton pieces with a slotted spoon to the pan on the stove, and reserve the stock. Mix well, so that the mutton pieces are completely covered with the spice paste. Saute for a few minutes.

    Add the reserved stock, yogurt, green chillies, coriander leaves and salt to the pan, cover and cook for about 10 minutes.

    Grind the cashew nuts and coconut to a smooth paste and add to the pan. Let it simmer for about 10 more minutes.

    Place a large pot of water (about 10 cups) on the stove to cook the rice. Add the lemon juice and salt to the water and bring to a boil. Drain the water from the soaked rice and add to the pot. Cook covered till the rice is cooked. Transfer to a large colander to drain the water completely.

    Pre-heat the oven to 325F.

    Grease a large oven proof dish with some butter/ghee. Layer half of the cooked rice in the bottom, then place all the cooked meat pieces with the gravy sticking to the meat in a layer on top of the rice, finish with a top layer of the other half of the rice. Pour the remaining gravy over the rice. Cover the dish with a tight lid/foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

    Remove from the heat, and let it cool for about 15 minutes. Mix well and serve garnished with the fried onions, cashews and raisins.

    Serve with a plain raita, papadam and pickle.

    Note: It does seems like a complicated and messy process with multiple pots and pans, but you can reuse the same pot to cook the mutton and rice, and even to bake the biryani if you used an oven proof pot to start with.

    Don’t forget Monthly Blog Patrol!

    I am guest hosting MBP this month. The theme for March is Mixed Drinks and the deadline is March 24th.

    Check out the details here.

    Category: India - Kerala, Lamb or Goat, Rice Or Biryani

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    59 Responses to “Mutton Biryani – Kerala Style”

    1. Nags
      February 27th, 2008 @ 12:47 am

      wow Sig. look at those fried onions and the nuts on that biryani :) totally droolworthy. my mom makes it similarly and like you say, its a multi pot variety. One difference is that, she uses coconut milk, if the biryani is not going to be used the next day. the texture and flavour is just amazing that way!

      I use coconut milk too sometimes, depending on if I have frozen coconut at home or not… Whenever I make biryani, I make a lot and half goes into the fridge anyway… :)

    2. Meeta
      February 27th, 2008 @ 1:38 am

      I love biryani. I normally make everything in one pot – except for the rice and then layer it and allow the oven to take over. This is spectacular and comes at a perfect time. I am having dinner guests on the weekend and plan on making lamb biryani. As for Siv’s version – in my books any man that can make a biryani is my hero!!

      :) I always end up using more pots than I need to, I am a messy cook… Have fun at your weekend dinner party Meeta…

    3. Raaga
      February 27th, 2008 @ 1:44 am

      I think S is a better cook than I… when he cooks, I end up eating endlessly… so I’d much rather I cook myself :-)

      this looks lovely… remove the mutton and pass me the rice please :-)

      Wow, have you told him that? :) I pig out regardless of who cooks… so thats not a problem here…

    4. Srivalli
      February 27th, 2008 @ 2:39 am

      wow..that plate looks awesome!..really the rice very spicy as in terms pungent flavour? seem to have added 10 cloves and 10 cinn, ..ok next time I am going to make this…siv makes biryani?..great that must be real can enjoy completing what he cooks.. :nerd:

      10 cloves and 1″ cinnamon, and these are not ground, just boiled for flavor, so it is not at all pungent…

      Oh yeah, Siv makes biryani, and a bunch of other things too… and I do appreciate it very much :)

    5. sia
      February 27th, 2008 @ 3:09 am

      lol @ modesty is not one of my strongest qualities :grin:
      well, any man who can cook like Siv gets my vote. krish is not a bad cook but i prefer my cooking ;) who says i am modest :evil:
      looks delicious sig. i too use many-pot biriyanis over one-pot one. its been ages since i made one.

      :) hehe, thats all I am saying too… he is a great cook, but I want him to cook only when I am not in a mood to cook… evil huh?

    6. Padmaja
      February 27th, 2008 @ 3:11 am

      :drool: :drool: Sig Its been very long time, I made any biryani at home.Yours made me crave for one instantly!! It looks gorgeous!!!

      Thanks Padmaja… :)

    7. indosungod
      February 27th, 2008 @ 3:43 am

      Sig, you try too hard :) I have seen a lot more of your dishes (and delicious they are) so will grant that you are the better cook :)

      Mutton Biryani is the king of all Biryanis for sure and yours made me draw up the weekend menu right away. as for which style is better I will keep my peace on this space. :( Flower):

      :) Thank you thank you… hmm… are you saying you are partial to the Tamil biryani? :mad:

    8. Anita
      February 27th, 2008 @ 4:20 am

      That is one great looking biryani – bookmarked! I haven’t tasted the Kerala style biryani, but have been wanting to. (I’ll get to use the star anise I have been hoarding.) Yes, mutton biryani is King!

      I wish TH would cook sometimes…he can, you know. But doesn’t.

      Thanks Anita… I don’t know if star anise is a traditional Kerala biryani ingredient, I add it to all my biryanis anyway… :)

    9. sra
      February 27th, 2008 @ 4:59 am

      Sig, going by looks,you’re the better cook.

      Just read that post of Siv’s mutton biriyani, and found it enjoyable and thoughtful – on kitchen roles.

      Thank you sra… but don’t go by looks, I plated and took both the pictures, Siv’s version is one of my earlier pics… so it is not a fair comparison :) But taste-wise, I will accept that judgement… :D

    10. Asha
      February 27th, 2008 @ 5:09 am

      Gorgeous looking!! Making Biryani in an authentic way really does take time but very satisfying to have with loved ones. You feel happy!! Atleast Siv cooks, mine does coffee and that’s where it ends! :razz:
      I just posted one for you, will send thru’ email later. It’s early morning here! :smile:

      Yeah, it really is some work, but totally worth it… :) Hey I wish Siv would get up before me and make me coffee everyday… :) I know, I ask for too much…

    11. sra
      February 27th, 2008 @ 5:16 am

      Sig, I meant to use some emoticons in the first line – here they are – :wink: :evil: – thought I’d soften what may seem a harsh judgement :wink:

      :D as long as the judgement is in my favor, you don’t need to soften it Sra… ;)

    12. priya
      February 27th, 2008 @ 5:56 am

      i have bookmarked it. i am going to make it soon. looks great. thanks for sharing. who can resist a great looking briyani

      Thanks Priya! :)

    13. Kalai
      February 27th, 2008 @ 6:10 am

      Now, that’s one disagreement I’m not going to get involved with! Your biryani looks and sounds absolutely delicious, girl! Am about to check out his version next. Cheers to biryani! :( Martini): :grin:

      Thanks Kalai… :)

    14. coffee
      February 27th, 2008 @ 6:11 am

      I am the multi pot biryani kinds and I loved your version of it….. If it was vegetarian, I was ready with a spoon right now! :wink:

      :) Thanks coffee… Mutli pot biryani at least feels more authentic :)

    15. Happy Cook
      February 27th, 2008 @ 6:13 am

      Wow the biriyani lookes delicious. I have made chicken one, but not lamb.
      Hi hi in our place we too argue who is the best cook….. ofcourse hubby dear always remarks that he was my teacher in cookin, which is true but i think i am outdoing the teacher these days :-)

      I love lamb biryani better than chicken, since the meat holds its shape and imparts more flavor to the rice… So you learned cooking from the husband huh? :) That is tough, he will always have that card to play against you :D

    16. Laavanya
      February 27th, 2008 @ 6:25 am

      I must try this vegetables sometime.. I’ve always wanted to make the layered, dum biryani. The roasted onions and cashew garnish looks awesome!
      It’s so cute how you guys have an Iron chef battle going on … I often wonder if it will or not be fun to have my husband also cook. I can get a bit controlling when it’s my kitchen.

      :) Laavanya, I know what you mean by controlling… I try to stay away from the kitchen when Siv is cooking, because I tend to offer too many “suggestions” and he gets mad… :)

    17. shilpa
      February 27th, 2008 @ 6:28 am

      Well…I can’t say who is better cook among you two, you have to invite me once as a judge :D .
      We don’t have any arguments (though my bro and I still have ongoing fight about it) at my home. V is learning cooking these days, so I hope we will have iron chef competitions some time in future :) .

      Both versions of biryanis look absolutely yumm.

      :) That is great V is learning cooking, but it is going to be really tough for him to get anywhere close to you in skills…. :)

    18. richa
      February 27th, 2008 @ 6:44 am

      groovy :drool:
      looks sooooo good!
      iron chef competitions at home, now that sounds like a fun thing to do :wink:

      Thanks Richa :) it is fun, we just have to try and get not too competitive… :)

    19. sunita
      February 27th, 2008 @ 6:47 am

      First Mandira, and now you…girl, you’re making me drool :drool:

      Thanks Sunita! I saw Mandira’s fish biryani, and it is in my list to try… :)

    20. Pravs
      February 27th, 2008 @ 7:11 am

      Loved the part of iron chef :grin: that must be real fun cooking. Love mutton biryani and feel like digging in :drool:

      :) it is fun, and eating and judging each other’s dishes at the end without fighting is even more fun :)

    21. Namratha
      February 27th, 2008 @ 7:20 am

      I stop by to peek at your pics Sig, even if its not what I eat :smile: Nice!!

      :) Thanks Namratha…

    22. Mishmash!
      February 27th, 2008 @ 7:22 am

      Would you be able to parcel both the creations..? I will give my verdict :P

      :) You can come by sometime, and we can have a three way contest… :)

    23. Rina
      February 27th, 2008 @ 8:20 am

      :drool: :drool: for Mutton Biriyani anytime dear….Love your version. I use all these ingredients except coconut. :razz: Like the idea of making the paste of the spice powders before adding and frying. And another one is adding lime juice when cooking rice. I usually add lime cut into circles with the skin for that flavour. :( Flower):

      Will try with your twists. :( Yes):

      Thanx for sharing.

      Lime with skin on, that is a great idea Rina, that will surely add more flavour! Thanks for the tip :)

    24. A-kay
      February 27th, 2008 @ 9:51 am

      That looks really good. Any tips / pointers on how to make this vegetarian? :???:

      I guess you can use mixed vegetables in place of cooked mutton, and make sure it is not overcooked… You will have to reduce the spices way too much in the veg version too I think… I will post my veg biryani version sometime. :)

    25. Pooja V
      February 27th, 2008 @ 10:02 am

      Wow…this is one of THE most gorgeous looking Biryanis i have seen. I am making this over the weekend.

      oh, thank you Pooja! :) Let me know how it goes…

    26. mandira
      February 27th, 2008 @ 12:34 pm

      Sig, this looks heavenly. I guess we both had biryani on our minds! I’ve never had coconut in biryani. Have to try this next time.

      :) yeah , all those talks about great minds and all… I have to try your fish biryani soon…

    27. revathi
      February 27th, 2008 @ 1:36 pm

      Now I demand a plate of both the biryanis to judge which one is best ! :grin:

      :) anytime, you can come over to Seattle Revathi…

    28. musy
      February 27th, 2008 @ 2:51 pm

      That would be a great competition to have at home :) . Invite me over and i’ll you both know :-D

      That’s one hot looking biryani, btw!

      :) of course… if you ate lamb, I’d invite you in a heartbeat musy…. :)

    29. Mamatha
      February 27th, 2008 @ 2:53 pm

      :drool: That looks simply DELICIOUS! Biriyani, any style, any ingredient (lamb/goat/chicken/fish/shrimp) is my favorite. It’s difficult to judge which of the 2 versions is better – I like them both. For this dish, let’s just say, you both are winners.

      P.S.: I agree with Revathi :razz:

      :) Thank you Mamatha… I am yet to try a fish biryani…

    30. K
      February 27th, 2008 @ 5:30 pm

      Looks delicious! I have always thought of starting a BK chain (Biryani King). Wanna partner? :D

      :) Biryani King chain in Seattle? I am in… and I am serious… :)

    31. rachel
      February 27th, 2008 @ 9:24 pm

      We have no such arguements…I sometimes wonder if he knows the path to the kitchen :grin: The biriyani looks the colour…the garnish and all… :( Yes):

      :D I am sure he can follow the wonderful aroma into the kitchen…

    32. Jyothsna
      February 27th, 2008 @ 10:25 pm

      :) How about sending some across and let me judge :wink:

      Sorry, it won’t travel well Jyo… especially in that middle eastern heat… but come over sometime :)

    33. saswati
      February 27th, 2008 @ 10:38 pm

      Hi Sig!! first time in your blog…i am floored…wonderful recipes and beautiful presentation. this biryani is a keeper for sure and looks fabulous. :( Yes):

      Thank you Saswati, and welcome to my blog… :) Hope to see you around here again…

    34. Thulasi
      February 28th, 2008 @ 2:10 am

      Nice pictures! One clarification, plz. Can you prepapre authentic Kerala mutton biriyani without adding fennel(perumjeerakam podi) in the masala paste. I guess u can’t. Its the perumjeerakam podi that gives the unique flavour when u prepare mutton or beef in traditional kerala style. I would appreciate if u could double check with your mother and reply( as I am not sure about your home recipe)

      Thulasi, the original recipe is adapted from a book as I mentioned it the post, not my mom’s, and it didn’t have fennel powder… Also I have changed the recipe around to suit my taste and convenience too… But I am sure you can add some fennel powder to this, and it will taste great!

    35. Shella
      February 28th, 2008 @ 4:11 am

      Sig I really really feel you are mean :evil: ….a husband who can cook biriyani, or for that matter anything edible… you are one helluva lucky girl.

      Mine can do nothing but make mess in the kitchen. Though he is sweet enuf of volunteer, i prefer keeping him at bay.

      The biriyani looks tempting to the core. i love the fried onions & nuts – they are my weakness… :( Yes):

      :) I am a lucky gal, I know that, and Siv knows that I know that too… And he is luckier I think… :D

    36. arundati
      February 28th, 2008 @ 8:46 am

      sigh!! a man who can cook!! hang on for dear life girl!! and that too a mean biryani!! not a meat eater…but it looks fabulous!!

      :D oh his ability to cook is just one of the reasons I hang on to him Arundati… :) He is great at so many other things too :)

    37. jas
      February 28th, 2008 @ 9:42 am

      hey..that biryani looks yummy…do you know of any restaurant in New York/ New Jersey that serves Kerala cuisine? pls pls let me know.

      Hi Jas, sorry, I haven’t been to a Kerala restaurant in NY… if you find one, do let me know… :)

    38. Shankari
      February 28th, 2008 @ 1:21 pm

      I have an idea..I will come to Seattle – U and Siv can cook a whole bunch of dishes iron chef style and I can be the judge. :razz:

      :) I guess there is a long waiting list to judge our iron chef competition now.. You can get in line Shankari… :D

    39. Mamatha
      February 28th, 2008 @ 8:41 pm

      I had some serious cravings y’day after reading this post and I HAD to make this dish. It being a weekday today, I opted for Siv’s version. My verdict: :( Yes): :( Yes): . This is the quickest biryani I’ve ever made and I think I’ll stick to this recipe when I want instant gratification. I’m saving your recipe for a weekend when I can make a trip to the halal store. And guess what, with no extra effort, I made 2 kinds tonight – with chicken for me and with vegetables for my husband who’s vegetarian. Thanks to both you and Siv!

      I know, I know… Siv’s version rocks, and it is darn easy too…. :) Glad you enjoyed it… Siv is gloating… :)

    40. sagari
      February 28th, 2008 @ 8:43 pm

      biryani looks just out of this world sig yummmmmmmm really delecious

      :) thank you Sagari!

    41. indie
      February 29th, 2008 @ 12:57 am

      when are u giving my recipe a try :( Yes):

    42. Hutoxi Hodiwalla
      March 1st, 2008 @ 9:46 pm

      I love mutton biryani but what I like about your recipe is that it is not oily. Good for health.

    43. mallugirl
      March 3rd, 2008 @ 2:37 pm

      Hmm..i too need to taste both..normally i make the multipot way but i love the pressure cooker variety too, having had that at a tamil friend’s sorry can’t take sides. :drool:

    44. Bharathy
      March 12th, 2008 @ 7:15 am

      OHHHH my my…!!!
      Do you really want me to comment here??

      :( Yes):

      Is there much dif between tamil(which Siv does) and kerala versions!..??
      God!I am not for any damn comparisons!Let me go up and drrooooooool now!! :drool:

    45. Marlene
      May 2nd, 2008 @ 1:05 am

      Hi, that sure looks delicious.:drool:
      Visit this site
      and check the different styles of Biryani made in India..

    46. priti
      August 26th, 2008 @ 6:37 pm

      The picture looks too good….!!! i am planning to prepare biryani this weekend. i have few doubts regarding the biryani.

      1. Can I use chicken instead of mutton? I don’t consume mutton.
      2. Why is it necessary to keep the mixture in oven. Both the gravy and rice are already cooked.

      Pls reply as i am seriously planning to prepare it this weekend.

      Hi Priti,
      Sure, you can use chicken instead of mutton. Also, finishing up the biryani in the oven is a common technique… it dries up the liquids a bit more and let the flavors blend. If you don’t have an oven, you can just cover and let it rest on really really low heat for a bit.

      Good luck!


    47. priti
      September 2nd, 2008 @ 2:31 pm

      Hi sig,
      thank you for ur response. i will try biryani with chicken and let u know….

    48. priti
      September 2nd, 2008 @ 2:31 pm

      Hi sig,
      thank you for ur response. i will try biryani with chicken and let u know….

    49. priti
      October 10th, 2008 @ 8:08 pm

      Hi sig,
      I usually make rice in rice cooker. If i cook 3 cups of rice with 10 cups of water, won’t the rice be mashed up? sorry for this doubt if it seems stupid but i am new to cooking, so, i hope u understand…..


      Hi Priti, if you are using the pressure cooker, you definitely don’t need 10 cups of water. Just follow your normal measures for cooking the rice in the cooker, you can add lemon juice and salt to the liquid and follow the rest of the recipe. Hope that clears it up.

    50. priti
      October 31st, 2008 @ 7:38 pm

      At last, sig, i made the biryani with chicken and it came out really well. i think i kind of messed up with the oven technique ( well… i didn’t actually mess it up) but i kept the biryani for around half an hour and it didn’t dry up as much as i thought it would. guess, my gravy had more liquid to it.. :???: Anyways, the biryani was delicious…. :drool: :smile: thank you so much dear… :

      Hi Priti, next time try and reduce the amount of liquid….. glad you liked the taste though!

    51. Grace
      December 12th, 2008 @ 5:42 am

      Hey Sig

      I made your version of the biryani for my in-laws and they were floored!

      Thanks a ton

      I have never dared to venture into this high-risk department and i must say i was pleasantly surprised at the minimal work that went into cooking this fabulously flavourful dish.

    52. Nicole
      December 23rd, 2008 @ 3:46 pm

      I came across your blog and decided to give this recipe a try. Boy am I sure glad that I found your website. This biryani was awesome! My husband, who is Indian, loved this as well and has already requested for me to make it again. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful recipe with us all!

    53. Nags
      January 27th, 2009 @ 5:30 am

      A reader emailed me asking for a mutton biryani recipe. Since I have never tried to make it myself and don’t cook meat anymore, I immediately came over to your place and found this post to email her. Will pass on her comments, if any :)

    54. ANna
      September 14th, 2009 @ 1:38 pm

      could I make this with chicken as I somehow seem to end up with mutton which you need steel jaws to chew on. If so, what changes if any do I need to make? Time? measurements?

      Please and thank you,

      • sig
        September 14th, 2009 @ 3:50 pm

        Sure you can use chicken. For the equivalent amount of chicken, the first step of cooking should take only 5 minutes (where it says 20 minutes now). The next two steps where it says 10 minutes and 10 minutes after adding the meat, reduce it to say 5 minutes and 7 minutes. Just keep checking to make sure chicken is not overcooked, as these are guesstimates. :) Hope this helps!

    55. ANna
      September 21st, 2009 @ 12:28 pm

      I did find mutton after all which did not require serious dental work at the end of it!. The biriyani turned out really good. The recipe is a keeper. Thank you very much for answering my Q as well.


    56. Sherry
      October 1st, 2009 @ 6:29 pm

      Kidilam.. Sammadhichirikkunu…. :) Keep up the good work. Hats off… :)

      • sig
        October 4th, 2009 @ 3:32 pm

        :) Thanks Sherry!