Culinary Adventures
Comments 12

Make Biryani

Lamb biryani is my regular order when we get Indian food delivered. I was introduced to it a few years ago when an Indian co-worker brought in a huge pot of biryani for his birthday lunch. Even after almost crying due to a whole green chili I mistook for capsicum, I fell in love with the dish.

The one bowl wonder is comforting, the mild blend of spices, the slow cooked, super tender meat very appealing. Sadly, not many restaurants offer this dish. I guess it’s because it’s considered peasant food, not restaurant food. It’s time consuming to make and probably not all that popular here in New Zealand.

It’s the last week of winter so I’m trying to cross off my winter to do list and last week’s CSA box included both carrots and cauliflower. I decided to attempt a lamb biryani. I roughly followed the recipe from Cuisine Magazine which can be found online here.

While the recipe generously suggests this will serve 4, I think it’s more like serves 6 to 8. Even with the cauliflower halved (using just a quarter), I had trouble fitting all this food into my largest pot – a dutch oven – so next time I’m going to halve the recipe.

My basmati rice turned out squishy rather than fluffy, so I would recommend cooking the the rice separately in the lamb stock and combine the rice with the slow cooked pot right before serving. I think I will also use a wider, shallower pot next time. To avoid the stacked weight of food affecting the dish. The weight of all the ingredients may have caused the rice to turn out compressed rather than fluffy. Perhaps cooking the rice separately is sacrilege for a one pot wonder, but basmati should be fluffy rather than squishy. I also found this recipe to be a lot blander than the punchy dish I’m used to ordering.

Suggestions for next time:

  • More salt (to taste)
  • Less cauliflower
  • Addition of a handful of cashew nuts
  • Curry powder or chili powder and/or fresh chili
  • Soak saffron in 2 tablespoons milk before adding to rice

Chef’s treat:

Once the lamb bones have been simmered to make stock, add a dash of soy sauce for a chef’s treat. There’s a surprising amount of meat left on the bones and it will help stem your hunger while the biryani takes an hour and a half to cook. I thought I’d be the only one to enjoy this treat, but The Koala wanted in on it too. It’s amazing how yummy boiled bones can be.

Have you ever eaten or cooked biryani? What did you think?

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I am Genie, a graphic designer/photographer obsessed with food and bunnies. I live in Whanganui, New Zealand with my husband, The Koala and our two rabbits, Kobe and Bento. I write about my hedonistic ways and I love the mantra "Eat well, travel often". I prefer not to write about myself in third person.


  1. As a newbie follower of yours, I was glad to finally figure out that The Koala is your husband. For this whole time I thought you actually had a Koala as a pet! I guess that’s what I get for not reading about you and only reading your posts… I’ve never had biryani before, but it sounds good. Thanks for opening my eyes to new ideas and recipes!

  2. Yum! I am always looking for new ways to use my cauliflower. this recipe will come in very handy the next time I get a delivery of “white broccoli” 🙂

    This week’s link party is up and running and ready for you to add your link. Come and link up this delicious recipe when you get a chance… Looking forward to seeing you there!

    • I love white broccoli and the regular green stuff. I think I prefer the white stuff a eensy weensy bit more though. See you at the link party 🙂

  3. Nice try on lamb Biryani! But as far as I know Biryani has been the food of the moguls and emperors in the history, it is enriched with exotic spices and one of the most expensive spices in the world “Saffron” :).

    • At least lamb is the only non-vegetarian ingredient. I wonder what would be a good authentic substitute? I don’t thank paneer would. Maybe just more cauli?

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