Kerala style biryani


Biryani is not just food. It’s an emotion. The aromatic rice, succulent meat and heady spices take you on a guaranteed high.

While Lucknowi and Hyderabadi biryanis are the most famous, the lesser known cousin – Malabari biryani is just as yummy.

As always, I love to experiment with cuisines and bring my own twist to them. So this is my take on the Malabari biryani. I called it ‘Biriyani – Kerala style’!


  • Mutton – 1 kg (leg/shoulder cut)
  • Rice – 4 cups (Basmati)
  • Onions – 4 sliced fine
  • Onions – chopped fine
  • Ginger paste – 1 tablespoon
  • Garlic paste – 2 tablespoons
  • Tomatoes – 2 finely chopped
  • Oil – 1 cup
  • Ghee – as required
  • Curd – 1 cup
  • Chilli powder – to taste
  • Salt – to taste
  • Turmeric powder – to taste
  • Corriander seeds – 1 table spoon
  • Cumin seeds – ¾ tablespoon
  • Fennel seeds – ¾ tablespoon
  • Cloves – 5
  • Cardamom – 5
  • Cinnamon – 4/5 pieces
  • Mace – 1
  • Black cardamom – 1 or 2
  • Bay leaves – 2
  • Pepper – 10 whole
  • Mint leaves – finely chopped
  • Coriander leaves – finely chopped
  • Curry leaves - 10
  • Saffron – few strands
  • Coconut milk – 2 tablespoons
  • Milk – 2 table spoons
  • Cashew nuts – 12 to 15

For the mutton:

  1. Marinate the mutton in curd, chilli powder, turmeric powder for minimum 2 hours. You can even keep it overnight in the fridge. Remember not to put salt.
  2. Take a deep pan/pot, fry the sliced onions till dark golden brown. In the same oil, fry the cashew nuts till golden brown. Keep these aside for later.
  3. In the same oil, put in the chopped onion. After around 5 minutes put in the ginger and garlic paste. Fry till the onions turn brown.
  4. Put in the marinated mutton (turn up the heat for about 2 to 3 minutes, then bring heat to medium) and salt to taste.
  5. In the meanwhile, dry roast the spices (without oil) – cumin, fennel, coriander, curry leaves, cinnamon (small piece), cardamoms (2), cloves (2), pepper. Once roasted, grind to a fine powder.
  6. Add the masala powder to the mutton and fry for 5 more minutes. Then add the tomatoes.
  7. Once the tomatoes are almost cooked, transfer the mutton and gravy into a pressure cooker. Cook till the mutton is tender. Remember not to add water. We need a thick gravy. The mutton will cook in its own juices.


For the rice:

  1. Take a large vessel, fill with water. Put remaining spice (cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, mace, black cardamom, bay leaves and salt to taste into the water. Boil the rice in this water till its 90% cooked.
  2. Strain out the water. Pick out the spice from the rice. Keep rice aside.


Assembling the Biriyani:

  1. Mix milk, coconut milk, ghee and saffron and keep ready.
  2. Take a big nonstick pot/aluminium vessel. Layer the rice at the bottom. Sprinkle chopped mint and coriander leaves, fried onions, fried cashews and the milk mix. Then layer half the mutton gravy.
  3. Repeat this layering process till all mutton and rice is over. Remember the top layer has to be a rice layer.
  4. Seal the vessel with a plate/cover. You could also use dough or damp kitchen tissue to seal completely.
  5. Place on low flame and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.


The last is of course gorging on the biriyani with family and friends!



Cox and kings