Sindhi Lamb Biryani
175 Min

Sindhi Lamb Biryani

Just like most foods in India, every community, region and family have their own interpretation for it. This is a style of biryani my mother preferred but since goat was the go-to red meat, we had goat biryani. There were always potatoes in the biryani, which are particularly delicious as they absorb the meat flavors. Biryani is best after it has rested for at least an hour and is even better the next day.
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Cook Time

180 Minutes + soak & marination time



Biryani Masala
Step 1
In a small frying pan, combine the black cardamom, star anise, mace, green cardamom, cloves, coriander and whole peppercorns.
Step 2
On high heat, fry the spices just until fragrant – about 2 to 3 minutes.
Step 3
Cool the spices then grind with a spice grinder.
Lamb Mixture
Step 1
Marinate the lamb with garlic, yogurt and salt and set aside for 5 to 6 hours, overnight or up to 2 to 3 days.
Step 2
To cook the lamb, heat a large saucepan or Dutch oven over high heat and add ghee. Then add the marinated lamb pieces and fry over high heat for 2 to 3 minutes then add the onions and potatoes. Cook on high heat for 4 to 5 minutes then lower the heat and cover the saucepan. Cook for an hour or longer, check it every 8 to 10 minutes making sure the onions are not sticking to the bottom nor burning. If they are, add a few tablespoons of water to deglaze the bottom of the pan.
Step 3
When the onions have reduced and caramelized, add the biryani masala, ginger puree, and chile powder.
Step 4
Add the yogurt and continue cooking until the mixture is semi-dry and the fat has risen to the top. Set the lamb aside until the rice is ready.
Cumin Pilaf
Step 1
Rinse the basmati rice 2 to 3 times then soak in water for about 1 to 2 hours. Drain.
Step 2
To make the rice, heat a medium stockpot and warm up the olive oil. Pop the black cumin seeds and immediately add the drained rice, salt and 3 cups of water. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover the stockpot, lower the heat and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the rice rest for about 10 minutes or more. Note that the rice is not fully cooked – it will finish cooking with the lamb.
Assembling the Biryani
Step 1
Preheat the oven to 350F. In a shallow large Dutch oven or a casserole dish, spread the lamb mixture on the bottom.
Step 2
Place the apricot halves over it and gently spread the cooked rice over the lamb.
Step 3
Drizzle half a cup of water mixed with 1 teaspoon turmeric evenly over the mixture.
Step 4
Place the tomato chunks on top. Scatter the sliced almond and pistachios on top and place a lid on the Dutch oven. If using a casserole dish, cover tightly with foil.
Step 5
Place in the oven for 30 minutes. Serve with raita or a yogurt salad.

Biryani Masala

5 to 6 whole black cardamom pods

2 whole star anise

2 whole mace flowers

2 teaspoons whole green cardamoms

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

2 cups minced onions

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

Cumin Pilaf

2 cups long-grain basmati rice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons black cumin seeds

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

Lamb Marinade

1.5 - 2-pound bone-in or boneless lamb meat 

1 tablespoon minced garlic

3 tablespoons plain whole-milk yogurt

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

1/2 cup ghee

3 cups minced onions

6 to 7 (8 to 10 oz) fingerling potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 tablespoon ginger puree

1 tablespoon red chile powder

1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt

To Layer The Biryani

1 cup tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks

1/2 cup water with 1 teaspoon dried ground turmeric 

10 to 12 dried Indian apricots (aka ‘aloo bukhara’), pitted

1/4 cup sliced toasted almonds

1/4 cup chopped pistachios 

Notes & Variations

  • The biryani can be made and assembled a day or two before – bake it the day you are serving it.
  • Instead of lamb, substitute with chicken but do use meat with bones as well for maximum flavor. Reduce the cooking time as chicken does cook faster than lamb.
  • Use the nuts of your choice – cashews, walnuts or pine nuts are just as delicious as pistachios and almonds. 
175 Min

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