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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Kolkata Mutton Biriyani (Biryani)

IMG_1840 [Updated Post]

First off let me explain the qualifier “Kolkata” I used for this Biryani’s recipe. Each region in India has it’s own version of Biryani, they vary so drastically that today Biryani can be defined only as “rice and meat cooked together”. There are loop holes even in that definition.

The predominant biryani gharana (style) in India is the fiery South Indian or Andhra style, the Royal Awadhi or Lucknowi style and the North-western (Punjabi) style. Kolkata or Bengali Biryani is a sub-variant of Lucknowi style and like people in Bengal is a bit sweeter :P.

Which is better is an argument that can only be settled with arms. However, I know of a lot of Bongs who lived in Hyderabad and totally disliked the local biryani and yearned for the bong/Awadhi variant. My husband is of those guys who made it a point to carry back Biryani from a Bong store in Bangalore each time he visited there (quiet often at one point of time).



  1. 1 kg (2lb) goat or lamb meat
  2. 500 gm. of basmati rice washed and soaked in water for at least 30 minutes
  3. 2 tbsp. ginger paste
  4. 1 tbsp. garlic paste
  5. 4 potatoes cut into halves
  6. 1 large onion finely chopped
  7. 1 cup plain curd/ yogurt
  8. 2 tsp. Kashmiri red chili powder
  9. Rose water few drops
  10. Kewra essence few drop
  11. Few strands of saffron soaked in 2-3 tbsp. of warm milk
  12. Salt
  13. Sugar
  14. Make a powder of the following spices (I’ll refer to this as Biryani Masala in the post)
    1. 2" cinnamon stick
    2. 6-7 cloves
    3. 3-4 green cardamom
    4. 1/10th of a whole nutmeg
    5. 1/2" mace
    6. 1 tsp. saahi jeera (cumin)
    7. 1tsp of saahi morich (white peppercorn)


Cook the pre soaked rice in enough water seasoned with salt, green cardamom, cinnamon stick and few cloves. Cook till the rice is almost done. Drain the rice on a colander and spread on a flat plate. Sprinkle very little sugar on it.

IMG_8797Take oil in a heavy bottom pan or in a pressure cooker and heat it. Add chopped onion and fry till they are brown. Add the meat pieces and sear them on high heat. It will help the meat pieces to retain their juices. 

Add ginger, garlic paste and fry along with the meat pieces. Once the raw smell goes away add yogurt and Kashmiri chili powder. I love to add the potato halves at this stage followed by salt and sugar and fry them along with the meat and spices. Cook till the potatoes are 90% boiled. Remove the potatoes and keep them aside. Rest 10% cooking will be done in Dum.

Add water required to boil the the meat pieces and either pressure cook it or cook it covered for atleast 40 mins.

Once done remove the meat pieces from the gravy and keep it handy for further use.

Strain the gravy and keep the strained juice. This is called Tar (there’s a picture of it in a glass cup in the ingredients section).

Now comes the assembly part of the biryani. Take a heavy bottom pan which you can heat on your stove top.


Grease the inner walls of the vessel with 1-2 tbsp. of ghee. Now start building up the layers. The thumb rule of layering biryani is the base and top layers should be made by rice.

This is the sequence I usually follow for my biryani. Rice layer followed by a layer of by meat, potato, saffron infused milk, 2-3 tbsp. of Tar. I finish this layer by sprinkling about 1 tsp. of biryani masala and a few drops of rose and kewra water. Use all your meat and rice to complete the layering. There should be 1/3rd space left in the pan once you finished layering. Cover the biryani pot tightly.

IMG_8813Now we are ready to put the biryani for Dum. Dum is basically slow cooking where the vessel doesn't come in direct contact of heat.  I take water in a bigger vessel and place the biryani pot inside that as shown in the photograph on the right. Let the water boil and then lower the heat and allow it to cook for atleast 45 minutes. Turn off the heat. Let it stand for at least an hour before serving.

Kolkata mutton biryani is best enjoyed with chicken chap (oh that recipe will surely follow). 



Its a wonderful life said...

This looks and sounds so yummy.. thanks.. your blog has been a treasure trove for Bengali recipes over many a months and I also read thru them just for the pleasure of it .. it makes wonderful reading ( and then order a sub for dinner..;) ;) ) .. have a long weekend coming and your blog has once again been a big help in planning ahead for the holidays...

ri said...

if i want to make chicken biriyani..the process will be same??or any change needed??plz rply..

somtapa said...

The process will be same. The difference is you don't have to pressure cook the chicken. Cook chiken in a pan till they are just done. Don't overcook it.

Rim said...

Does the biryani masala need to dry roast before grinding.

Rim said...

Does the biryani masala need to dry roast before grinding? Plz reply.

Somtapa Brahmachari said...

@Rim, that's optional. You can dry roast them but for very short time.

Rim said...

Thanks for your reply. Also want to know what you used for grinding....i mean i have a big grinder and that will not work for this...

Somtapa Brahmachari said...

@Rim, I use the chutney jar of my grinder for larger quantity. For lesser quantity I use the mortar and pestle.

Anonymous said...

Very nice. As close to the real deal as possible. Eagerly liking forward to the chaap recipe.

Rim said...

Thanks for this nice recipe ..It was a real hit.

Anonymous said...


I came across this blog post hunting for a mutton biriyani recipe because my Mallu husband taunted me for not making any Bengali dish for Pujo. So glad to find that you also live in Seattle! The biriyani is still resting so I don't know how it turns out but I was wondering if you ever posted the chicken chaap recipe. I have had chicken chaap only a few times and it still taunts me. I would learn how to cook that.

Thank you!

Somtapa Brahmachari said...

Hi, here is my chicken chaap recipe...

Somtapa Brahmachari said...

Hi, here is my chicken chaap recipe...

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I am living in Seattle, originally from UK. My son-in-law comes from Howrah, Kolkata. Since he has spoken about the biriyani he gets back home with such longing and affection, I decided to try to make it for him on his Birthday. I found your blog and set about cooking. Well, I can't tell you how much he loved the biriyani. He took the whole big pot home afterwards and ate it all. He refused other food. We made it again recently, and he thinks it is even better than the food his sister makes for him at home. I am very grateful to you for posting this recipe!

Anonymous said...

I think u forgot to mention the eggs !!!!

Badiga Jugnu said...

Delicious biryani.
Indian Breakfast Recipes .

Anu Priya said...

Best Recipe. I loved it. Thanks for sharing the wonderful recipe with us. Buy Spices Online

Mayukh said...

This has been my go to recipe for sometime now, thank you so much for this! :)

Anonymous said...

Well 1st of all it looks really very tempting although my question stands there I want to use decrease the amount of mutton to half since I like the dominance of rice more than the meat, so if I decrease the number of mutton the spices and other stated stuffs for the gravy would be same or it will be half too ?? Thanks in advance

jyotirmoy banerjee said...

Meetha ittar/aatar? rose water+kewra water+meetha aatar=Kolkata biryani

jyotirmoy banerjee said...

Meetha ittar/aatar? rose water+kewra water+meetha aatar=Kolkata biryani

Somtapa Brahmachari said...

Hi, I always make like this. You can reduce the quantity of meat and spice, but my concern is will the rice taste the same? You can always try in a different way and come up with something new.


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