Making Hyderabadi Kacchi Lamb Biryani


Biryani, Biriyani, Beriani, Buriani; there are many names, styles and variations to this amazing one-pot Sunday dinner that it’s meaningless to talk about authenticity. But I do love them all.

As such, in my quest to learn how to cook what I like to eat, this took me about a month to tweak and to talk to many people who’ve added much to my understanding of this epic dish. Many thanks go to David Yip for the suggestion of the Cartouche and to Thanaletchumy for her tips and tricks. She’s a fantastic home-cook who does an epic Teh Alia.

Any mistakes found here however, are all my fault.


Hyderabadi Kacchi Lamb Biryani

This is a Basic Hyderabadi Biryani which is the most widely found version throughout India and the rest of the world. There are two styles: Kacchi and Pukka/Pukki.

Kacchi Biryani is where the meat and rice are cooked together in a pot. Much skill is required to achieve the proper cooking of the meat and rice, but there’s a trick to it.

Unfortunately, there is much scorn reserved for the Pukka style because the meat and rice are already partially cooked separately before being layered for a very slow cook in a pastry-covered pot. In my opinion, this is the more difficult version because you need to slow-cook such that the meat and rice flavors intermingle.

It is also my opinion that if you are cooking for a large group of people, the Pukki style would be safer.

Don’t be intimidated with the length of the ingredients and preparation, rather take the time to sniff and enjoy the warm heady aromas that fill your kitchen. It’s beautifully intoxicating.


Ingredients: (makes a main course for 6)

Punjabi Garam Marsala (makes 1/2 cup)

  • 1 tbsp Coriander Seeds
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1 tsp Cloves, whole
  • 0.5 tsp Black Peppercorns
  • 1 Black Cardamon pod (Caoguo or Badi Elaichi)
  • 3 Cinnamon sticks
  • 3 Bay Leaves (dried or fresh)

Lamb Marinade

  • 1.5kg Lamb, bone-less leg, cubed
  • 1 cup Plain/Greek Yogurt
  • 0.5 cup Fresh Mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 0.25 cup Fresh Coriander leaves and stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Ginger, minced
  • 1 tbsp Garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp Kashmiri Chili Powder (or 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper Powder and 1 tsp Sweet Paprika Powder)
  • 1.5 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp Punjabi Garam Marsala
  • 0.5 tsp Tumeric Powder

Rice Spice Mix

  • 2 cups Basmati Rice
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp Ghee or Unsalted Butter
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 2 Black Cardamon Pods
  • 2 Bay Leaves, dried or fresh
  • 2 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 2 Red Onions, small, thinly sliced
  • 0.5 tsp Saffron Threads
  • 1 tsp Sea or Coarse Salt



Preparing the Punjabi Garam Marsala

  1. Pre-heat a dry pan on medium-high heat.
  2. Add all the spices and Bay Leaves into the pan and toast until the Cumin and Coriander turn brown and the peppercorns, cloves and Black Cardamon turn ash-black and the Bay Leaves look brittle. The spice mix should be very fragrant.
  3. Immediately transfer the hot spice mix on to a plate to cool.
  4. When the spice mix is cool, grind the spice mix into a fine powder using a spice or coffee grinder.
  5. Store the spice mix in a air-tight container. Lasts up to 2 months.

Preparing the Lamb

  1. Combine all the ingredients (except the lamb) in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Add the lamb into the bowl and mix well.
  3. Transfer the contents into a air-tight plastic bag, seal and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

Preparing the Rice (1 hour before cooking)

  1. Place the rice into a bowl and wash the rice with water.
  2. Once the rice is clean, fill the bowl with water and soak the rice for 1 hour.
  3. Remove the lamb from the fridge to allow to come to room temperature.

Cooking the rice

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Drain the rice.
  3. Heat the ghee in a heavy-based pot on medium-high heat.
  4. Once the ghee is warm, add the Cumin, Black Cardamon, Bay Leaves and Cinnamon Sticks.
  5. Once the spices turn reddish brown and smell nutty, add the sliced onions and fry until the onions turn slightly brown.
  6. Stir in the Saffron threads and stir until the Saffron aroma emerges.
  7. Add the drained rice and stir to coat the rice with the spices and mix with the onions.
  8. Add the water and the salt to the rice and bring to a boil.
  9. Once the rice forms craters on the surface, remove from heat.

Assembling it all

  1. Prepare a Cartouche that fits your heavy-based pot.
  2. Remove half the rice from the pot and reserve in a bowl.
  3. Spread the rice in the pot evenly on the bottom of the pot.
  4. Add the marinated Lamb cubes (including any remaining marinade) into the pot and spread evenly over the rice.
  5. Drizzle some Ghee over the Lamb cubes.
  6. Add the reserved rice on top of the Lamb cubes and spread evenly to cover completely.
  7. Place the Cartouche over the rice.
  8. Place the pot into the oven and cook for about 1 hour or until the lamb is fork-tender.
  9. Serve immediately with a garnish of fresh mint.

Advise your guests to eat around the spices like Cinnamon Sticks, Bay Leaves or Black Cardamon Pods.



  • The Black Cardamon is different from Green Cardamon which is sweet and used for desserts. Black Cardamon is used in meat stews and braises. You can find them in Chinese Medicine shops as Caoguo (“grass fruit”) or at Indian spice shops as Badi Elaichi.
  • Take care not to burn the spices as they turn bitter when burnt.
  • I use Greek Yogurt because I find the European-style Yogurt to be too watery.
  • The Cartouche is optional and you can cook with the pot lid but this yields a very wet rice. A Cartouche yields a drier rice. The choice to use a Cartouche is based on your preference.
  • You may add chopped dried fruits and nuts like Pistachios, Pine Nuts and raisins when cooking the rice for a richer flavor.






Posted on 1st Nov 2013 in Indian, Recipes, Singapore


There Are 4 Comments


Chin Fern aka hungrybear commented on November 1, 2013 at 11:09 pm

Beautiful colour too and bet it tastes delish


Su-Lin commented on November 10, 2013 at 5:56 am

Oooooh, droooooooool….


ivan commented on November 10, 2013 at 7:49 pm

Indeed! Try it! 🙂


imp commented on November 21, 2013 at 12:37 am

Goodness. So much effort. But it looks so good. I hate you for making me feel like a hypocrite to want to eat spoonfuls of that rice and pass the meat. 😀

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