Make this lamb biryani, then check out our chicken biryani, vegan biryani, vegetable and paneer dum biryani and more Indian recipes.

Monica Sawhney Haldar has been teaching Indian cookery for over 10 years after founding The Spice Club to showcase home-style, regional, Indian cookery via her own cookery schools and pop-up supperclubs. During lockdown in 2020, she founded - an online Indian cookery school where she teaches her members from all over the world, how to master Indian cookery. @thespiceclub

What is lamb biryani?

The biryani is a celebratory culinary masterpiece. Monica's recipe features tender pieces of melt-in-the-mouth lamb cooked in layers of spices, steamed fragrant rice and a saffron-infused cream. Don’t be put off by the length of the ingredients list, as it is a simple recipe, which is absolutely worth the effort.

How to make the perfect lamb biryani: cook's tips

  • Kiwi is an excellent meat tenderiser, especially for red meat. Top tip – use it in barbecue marinades for juicy lamb kebabs.
  • Make sure your lamb pieces are small, so they cook quickly.

How to serve lamb biryani: Biryani is always treated as the star of the show and we tend not to serve any curries alongside it. It is classically served with a raita so you can enjoy the different layers of flavour.

Lamb biryani recipe



  • 1 tsp shahi jeera seeds or cumin seeds
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 1 black cardamom pod
  • 3cm cinnamon stick or cassia bark
  • 3 cloves
  • 2cm piece of mace or ¼ tsp ground (optional)


  • 500g lamb leg, cut into small chunks (bone-in is preferable)
  • 3 garlic cloves (15g), grated
  • 4cm ginger (15g), grated
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • large handful fresh coriander, chopped
  • large handful fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 kiwi, peeled and mashed into a paste with a fork
  • 3 tbsp yogurt
  • 4 tbsp passata
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 5 tbsp crunchy golden fried onions
  • juice of ½ a lime


  • 300g basmati rice
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 chillies, slit vertically (keep the seeds in)
  • 1 tbsp ghee or neutral oil



  • 5 tbsp golden fried crunchy onions
  • handful fresh coriander, chopped
  • handful fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • handful cranberries or pomegranate seeds (optional)
  • raita, to serve (optional)


  • STEP 1

    Put all the biryani garam masala ingredients in a spice grinder with 2 tsp salt. Grind into a powder and set aside.

  • STEP 2

    Now, make the lamb marinade. Put all the ingredients in a bowl, add the ground garam masala and mix until well incorporated. Cover and allow to marinate in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hrs, or ideally overnight. Remove from fridge once you start preparing the biryani.

  • STEP 3

    Heat the oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Wash the rice 4-5 times, or until the water runs clear. Set aside. Add around 2 litres of water to a large pot and bring to a boil.

  • STEP 4

    Add the rice, remaining rice ingredients and 1 tsp salt to the water. Mix well and allow the water to come back up to the boil. Reduce to a rolling simmer and mix the rice every couple of minutes. Cook for 6-9 minutes or until the rice is partially cooked – it should have a bite to it. Drain and keep covered with foil or the pan lid.

  • STEP 5

    To make the saffron cream, bring the milk, cream and ghee to the boil in a small saucepan. As soon as it boils, turn off the heat. Add the saffron strands. Allow the saffron to infuse well (the milk will turn yellow). Add ¼ tsp salt and mix. Set aside.

  • STEP 6

    Put the marinated lamb in a large ovenproof dish with a lid. Put the partially cooked rice on top and spread evenly. Sprinkle over the golden fried onions, coriander, mint and saffron cream.

  • STEP 7

    Cover with foil and put the lid on top. Cook in the oven for 20 mins, then reduce the temperature to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3 and cook for a further 50 minutes. Check the lamb is cooked and then remove from oven.

  • STEP 8

    Carefully mix the layers with a large spoon before serving. Garnish with the cranberries or pomegranate seeds. Serve with a raita of your choice.

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