Mutton Biryani

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Average: 5 (3 votes)
Serves 4-5

A speciality of the Coast of Kenya, this biryani is one of my absolute favourite kind! The masala is cooked separately and the rice separately, then the two are served together.

Ingredients for Masala/Gravy
1 kg
mutton or lamb, on the bone, cut into pieces
500 gm
onions, sliced then fried until golden
1 tbsp
ginger paste
1 tbsp
garlic paste
2 tbsp
grated raw papaya
1 tsp
red chilli powder
chopped green chillies
1 tsp
cumin powder
pinch of cardamom powder
cinnamon sticks
2 tbsp
lemon juice
250 ml
pinches of saffron
2-3 cups
hot water
1/2 cup
4 tbsp
tomato paste/puree
fresh tomatoes, grated or blended
1 tsp
orange food colouring
potatoes, peeled and halved, then fried until a knife can pierce through easily
Ingredients for Rice
3 cups
basmati rice, washed 2-3 times then soaked for half an hour
saffron & food colouring
whole spices


Clean the meat. Now in a bowl add meat, salt, ginger n garlic pastes, red chilli powder, chopped green chilli, half the fried onions, half the yoghurt, 2 tbsp. of the oil, cardamom powder, cumin powder, half of the tomato paste, raw papaya, turmeric powder, pinch of orange food colour, pinch of saffron and lemon juice. Mix it well then marinate overnight.

Heat the oil in a pressure cooker, then add the whole spices followed by the fresh tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes are dry, then add half of the remaining fried onions (reserve a handful for later) and all of the remaining paste, yoghurt and saffron.

Cook together for a few minutes, then add the marinated mutton/lamb with its marinade. Let these simmer then add the hot water (it should completely cover the meat, so add more water if you find that the 2 cups aren't enough) and cover the pressure cooker.

Cook for about 25 minutes on medium heat or until the meat is tender.

Once ready, add the fried potatoes, mix and simmer on very low heat for a few minutes for the potatoes to take on a good colour and for the masala to thicken and the oil to rise to the top. Sprinkle the remaining fried onions, then turn off the heat and set aside.

You can also cook this masala in a regular pan, it will take slightly longer but the result will also be great.


Wash then soak 3 cups of rice in water for about 20-30 mins. Soak a few saffron strands in some water and set aside. Bring a big pot of water to boil, add salt, 4 cardamom pods, 2-3 cinnamon sticks and 2-3 cloves plus about 2 tbsp. of oil.

Drain the soaked rice and add it to this water when it is boiling. Cook until the rice is about 3/4 done, remove and strain out all the water.

Put half the rice back into the pan, drizzle about 2-3 tbsp. of oil and the saffron water. Then add the remainder of the rice.

Add a bit of orange colour on one side and mix it up a bit with a spoon then cover the pot tightly. Steam this on low heat for 15 minutes or put in a 180 C preheated oven for about the same time. Serve the rice with the Biryani Masala on top.

Alternatively, you can layer the two in the pot by placing the cooked masala at the bottom of the pan and the rice on top, then steam as directed, for about 15 minutes on low heat. This tends to infuse the lovely biryani flavour into the rice as it steams.


Wow a friend of mine gave me ur links I can't wait to try out woooow I love this

a very delicious recipy

Fauzia's Kitchen Fun's picture

W/Salaam, I normally don't use those two spices for this particular biryani. Give it a try! :)

Dear fauzia apu,
is it possible to substitute mutton with beef? as in, for the same recipe? or do we have to add something more?

Fauzia's Kitchen Fun's picture

Yes it is possible, just that beef will take a bit longer to cook.

salam,inshallah i will try cook it dis weeked,but y did you omit cumin and black pepper in youe recipee??????????

Dear fauzia. is tomato paste just like passata?

Fauzia's Kitchen Fun's picture

Almost the same, paste is thick/concentrated tomatoes. are a god sent.honestly this time on eid i tried this biriani,and peri peri peri chicken and some of the desserts and they all turned out a super hit.everybody loved it.although i did it for the first time .and all credits goes to you jazaakallah

Dear Fauzia,
A quick question.You mentioned in the mutton biryani the pressure cooker add oil and whole spices...can you plz tell me what whole spices.
Thanks for this wonderful webside.

Fauzia's Kitchen Fun's picture

The whole spices are included in the recipe ingredients. Cinnamon and cloves.

hi,i just remembered that i need to cook this meal now but how is it gona be without the meat marinated it overnite???can i cook it for a little while on pressure cooker or try mix everything and keep it for a while before cooking???????????

Fauzia's Kitchen Fun's picture

Yes it is cooked without marinating overnight, although you CAN marinate overnight if you have the time.

thanks dear,am just on the process of cookinng hope it turns out great..

mashallah,this is one my tasty biriari ever to have cooked.....God bless you more and more

l liked the recipe

A/s, do you have to add the raw papaya? Thanks

Fauzia's Kitchen Fun's picture

No, it is optional but it does help to tenderise the meat.

Salam alaykum.
I just tried biriyani for the first time and it turned out delicious. I grew up in Mombasa many years ago and it reminded me so much of those good days. Can't wait to try other dishes. God Bless you. Thanks

Hi,i normally prepare this without marinating but hav neva used da safron..hav no idea wat it is?? Wud luv 2 try dis recipe. Thankx

Fauzia's Kitchen Fun's picture

It is a spice, very expensive but incredibly aromatic. A small pinch goes a long way. You can leave it out if you don't have it.

Hi , I have got store bought brown onions. How much should I use for this recipe

Fauzia's Kitchen Fun's picture

Hi, that would be difficult for me to estimate as I have never used store-bought fried onions.

Hello Fauzia, thanks for great work. Would you tell me where to buy saffron in Mombasa. I have looked everywhere in vain!

Fauzia's Kitchen Fun's picture

Hi! You can find it at a small indian shop near the market place (marikiti). The shop is called Pattani and is next to the Hindu temple. A small tin costs around 300sh, but it lasts a long time coz we use a few strands at a time.

Hey, great job!What is the importance of soaking the rice for 20-30minutes,is it compulsory? what if I don't have a pressure cooker, can I use a normal cooker?

Fauzia's Kitchen Fun's picture

Thanks! Soaking the rice helps the grains expand evenly during cooking, so you end up with more evenly cooked rice which is fluffier instead of it clumping together. And yes you can use a normal will take longer to get done but that is ok.

Assalamu alaikum Fauzia

I have tried a few recipes of yours n all of them hv been a hit Alhamdulillah :) I noticed there's no use of curry powder in this particular recipe, doesn't it make any difference? I'm asking you because normally the dishes made with mutton have curry powder as one of the main ingredient in them! Plz lemme knw ASAP. JazakAllah khair in advance.

Fauzia's Kitchen Fun's picture

W/Salaam, thanks! I normally do not add curry powder to mutton biryani as the aroma from the saffron and the fried onions is very vivid and strong so I do not need to add curry powder. However if you want you can use up to 2 tsp of curry powder or cumin powder. :)

I felt like my byriani gravy curdled,what might have done wrong?

Fauzia's Kitchen Fun's picture

The biryani gravy should actually not be smooth so if the taste is fine then it should be ok.

salam...i added papaya and the masala sumhow tastes like you have any way i can use it but should not taste papaya

Fauzia's Kitchen Fun's picture

W/Salaam, was it raw papaya? Usually the taste disappears completely on cooking.