My mother’s friend Sweet Pasha serves a fabulous biryani! This recipe has been handed down from her royal background and has been perfected in her kitchen by her cooks Shakira and Govindamma.

This recipe makes a huge amount of biryani – enough to feed an army! Please do turn your calorie counters off because there is a lot of oil used – but its all well worth it to achieve the authentic taste of this Royal Hyderabadi dish.

You can half or third this recipe, when you make it at home. I love eating this with any kind of raita – try my recipe for a spinach raita.


Serves 30- 35

3 kg mutton

2 kg long grained basmati rice (soaked for one hour in water)

1 ½ cups ground garlic

1 ½ cups ground ginger

2 bunches mint leaves

2 bunches cilantro leaves, chopped

¼ kg long green chilies

12 ripe small plum tomatoes, chopped

14 small red onions, sliced

1 cup yogurt

8 tsp. red chili powder (or to taste)

2 tsp. coriander powder (dhaniya)

½ tsp. turmeric powder (haldi)

5-6 green cardamom seeds (elaichi)

1-2 sticks of cinnamon (dalchini)

5-6 cloves (laung)

5-6 bay leaves (tej pattas)

5 small limes, squeezed

1 cup milk

1 tsp. saffron

1/2 cup of oil

Preparing the mutton:

  • Wash and clean out mutton.
  • Place the mutton in a pressure cooker.
  • Pressure cook for one whistle till the mutton is cooked.
  • Strain the mutton stock from the pot and set mutton aside.


  • Heat oil in a large pot.
  • Add the whole spices – cardamom seeds, cloves, and cinnamon.
  • Sauté for a minute till spices sizzle and pop.
  • Add the sliced onions and fry till onions turn brown (20–25 minutes).

  • Add garlic and ginger and stir for five minutes.
  • Add red chili powder, haldi, dhaniya powder and stir.
  • Add green chilies.
  • Add kosher salt to taste.
  • Add 1 cup yogurt and stir for 2 minutes.
  • Add chopped tomato and mix well.

  • Add chopped mint and cilantro leaves.
  • Cover and cook.
  • Add a little mutton stock to thicken up the gravy.
  • Add the bay leaves and mix and cook covered on medium heat.
  • Cook for 25 minutes or so till all the spices are well combined.
  • Add the mutton with little stock to the gravy and mix well.
  • Cook for about 10 minutes till well combined (do not cook for too long or else the mutton will turn black).
  • Take off fire and set aside.


  • Boil a large pot with water.
  • Add a few bay leaves and salt.
  • Add the presoaked rice to the boiling water.
  • Cook the rice till it is ¾ cooked (should not be completely cooked).
  • Drain the water out and set aside the rice.


1 tsp kesar (saffron)

1 cup milk

  • Add the saffron to the milk and set aside for 15- 20 minutes.

Putting the biryani together:

  • Preheat oven at 250°F.
  • In a large bottomed pot, ladle out some of the mutton gravy as a base at the bottom.
  • Then put a layer of the semi cooked basmati rice.
  • Then put a layer of the mutton gravy.

  • Add another layer of the rice.
  • Repeat this one more time ending in rice.

  • Take the saffron milk topping and sprinkle it on top of the rice.
  • Put a few spoons of ghee and the lime juice all around the rice.
  • Cover the pot tightly and put it in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes to finish cooking.

Serving the biryani:

  • When you remove the pot from the oven, open the lid and immediately turn the biryani with a large spoon.
  • This is a very important step.
  • Taking a large ladle start from the outer sides of the pot and mix in a rotating motion moving inwards.
  • Do this 2-3 three times and serve biryani hot with a raita.


  1. Hi,
    Can you please tell me which basmati brand did you use? The rice looks long and attractive. Thanks for the great recipe.

    Rajesh Purushothaman

    • Good Luck! Let me know how it turns out…its quite an intense recipe – but one of the best biryanis Ive had!

  2. Wow just thank u soooo much for sharing such lovely biryani, I am not Indian but my husband I made this food n he said that is the best biryani he had ever 🙂 thank u again

  3. Thanks for the recipe. It turned out amazing! And hubby wants it again today but no mutton at home, can I make it with chicken? What adjustments should I make other than not pressure cooking the chicken? Thanks.

    • Hi,
      Thank you! Yes you can make it with chicken but use thighs and don’t cooky he meat for as long – mutton takes much longer to cook than chicken.
      Good luck!

  4. 3 kg mutton and you use 2 tablespoon coriander powder?….i check lots of others mutton biryani recipe…even 1/2 kg of mutton they use 2 tablespoon of coriander powder and additional 2 tablespoon garam masala…what i know, garam masala still have coriander powder inside…please advice me if i’m wrong…thanks

  5. Do you boil the mutton without any spices? are we supposed to add water to this while boiling?.
    Also the ingredients has limes listed, but its not used in the recipe. when are we to use the lime?

    Thanks for the info. the biryani looks yum and i cant wait to make it.

    • Hi
      They used about 1/2 a cup of oil but I always try and cut down the oil usage to about 1/2 of what they used.
      Start off with 1/4 cup and see if you need more.

  6. I’m looking forward to trying this recipe for a party over the week-end. Could you please tell me the measurement of the cup you’ve used for the garlic and ginger? Thank you.

  7. I have just placed the biriyani for the final ‘dum’ cooking. The meat tastes good and I hope the final slow cooking comes out well as it is the first time I am trying to do this process … My oven is too small for this quantity of biriyani.
    It was a lot of work however though I am used to making biryanis regularly.
    The lime is essential for keeping the cooked grains of rice separate. I added a it to the cooked rice and before I prepared the meat -rice layers for cooking.

    I just checked it. The aroma is slowly filling my kitchen and it tastes divine,
    Thank you for the recipe .

  8. Hi Malini, I don’t have an oven that’s large enough for the final step of cooking. Can i just use the stove instead? How long more should i continue cooking if this is so… and i would assume at medium fire? Thanks!

    • Hi – Yes of course you can – just keep it on a v slow fire – lid tightly shut for about20 min – 1/2 hour and then turn fire off and let the biryani just sit for some time before eating

  9. Hi Mam,
    Being a guy I’ve been so passionate about cooking ever since I was doing my 7th grade. My dad has taught me a versuon of briyani, few chefs have and aslo some of my muslim neighbors. But no one gave me the exact measurement. These measurements are awesome but can you please update me in grams measurement. I find it difficult with the cup measurement.

  10. Recipe pictures look awesome, want to try it. I have a question though.
    How much is 2 bunches mint leaves – in weight or in cups? Bunch sizes are different in different stores 😦
    It would be nice if you could post pictures of ingredients.
    Thank you

    • Hi,
      I would say about 2 packed cups of mint leaves would be fine. Even if bunches are bigger – I think it would taste just as good. Enjoy

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