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Biryani Gosht: a traditional Moghul Indian layered rice dish usually made with lamb, mutton or goat--but you can make it with any red meat!

Biryani Gosht

The least stressful way to make this is to take 2 days--but that is only because of the slow cooking required for the meat. Please do not get intimidated--read through the recipe and if you feel you have time (i.e., you get up earlier than me!) then make the recipe in one day.
Course Entree
Cuisine Indian
Author TheSpicedLife


For the meat:

  • 1-2 T ghee, divided
  • 3 lbs total pork shoulder and beef chuck, cut into large chunks and seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 leaves bay
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 inches ginger, minced
  • 3 small-medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 T double strength tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt with a little heavy cream mixed in because I used 2%--if you have whole yogurt use all yogurt
  • 3 t garam masala, divided

To Assemble:

  • 3 cups raw Basmati rice, cooked in salted water
  • 1-2 T ghee
  • 2 t cumin seeds
  • 16 oz sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets, or 2 small
  • 2-4 T water, as needed
  • 1 medium or 2 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 T heavy cream
  • 3 T low fat milk (or use 6 T total half and half in place of cream and milk)
  • 1 hefty pinch saffron
  • 6 medium onions, sliced, caramelized in ghee or butter with salt
  • 1-3 t garam masala to taste
  • chopped cilantro for garnish


On the first day (or early in the morning--see headnote), make the meat:

  1. Heat a large Dutch oven or a cooktop-safe slow cooker insert (preheat the oven to 300 F if using the Dutch oven), over medium high heat. Add one tablespoon of ghee; when it is melted and the pan is hot, add the meat in batches and brown all over. As each batch browns, remove it to a large bowl and brown the next batch.
  2. When all of the meat has browned, add the cinnamon sticks and more ghee if needed (chances are you will have enough fat from the meat). When the cinnamon is starting to sizzle, add the bay leaves, cardamom pods and cloves. Stir occasionally, and pay close attention with your nose. You do not want the spices to burn, but you do want their oils to have released, so the air above the pot should be quite fragrant.
  3. When this happens, add the finely chopped onion with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. If any of the browned bits are sticking in the pan, add a few splashes of water and scrape them up. Then add the garlic and ginger and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes and stir in, continuing to scrape the bottom of the pot for anything sticking. Let the tomatoes cook for another 5 minutes.
  5. Add the tomato paste and 2 teaspoons of garam masala. Turn the heat off and stir in the yogurt. Stir the meat back into the pan. Place the slow cooker insert onto its base, cover and cook for 8 hours on low (or put a heavy lid on the Dutch oven and cook for 4-5 hours in the 300 F oven).
  6. When done, taste for salt, garam masala, and of course to make sure the meat is tender. It should be rich and spicy--not in the heat sense, but in the sense of tasting the spices, because remember this is being layered with rice.
  7. In an ideal world, by doing this either very early or the day before, you will have time to let the meat chill. Then you can remove some of the fat from the top. I encourage you to not remove all fat--fat IS flavor and this is a celebration dish. But depending on your cuts of meat, for example my pork shoulder was quite fatty, you may still want to remove some.
  8. You can caramelize the onions either before beginning the assembly or you could caramelize them on day 1 and then just refrigerate until needed.

Assembling the biryani (or day 2 if you are doing this in 2 days):

  1. First, cook the rice. I prefer the pasta method for Basmati, but use whatever method you feel most comfortable with. Preheat the oven to 350 F. 
  2. While the rice is cooking, heat the ghee in a large, deep pan, with the cumin seeds. Keep a close eye on them--they roast (and therefore burn) much more quickly. When they have darkened and are fragrant, add the mushrooms with a pinch of salt. Toss and cook. When they have released some of their water and are starting to brown, go ahead and add the cauliflower with a few tablespoons of water. Toss occasionally, and let cook for about 5 minutes.

  3. Add the tomatoes and 1 teaspoon garam masala--if the pot looks really dry add another tablespoon or two of water, and this time reduce the heat to medium and cover the pan to let the cauliflower steam.
  4. While the cauliflower is steaming, Place the cream and milk (or half and half) into a small saucepan with the saffron. Heat until just below a boil and then turn the heat off and cover to prevent a skin from forming. Set aside.
  5. Check on the cauliflower every 5 minutes or so. When it is mostly tender, turn the heat up and remove the lid to allow the excess water to cook off. When the liquid is mostly gone (some saucy flavor is a good thing), mix the rice into this mixture (or mix this mixture into the rice depending on what size pot either is in).
  6. I used my large Dutch oven to bake the biryani, which was the same pot I had cooked the cauliflower and mushrooms in. So the bottom layer is the rice-mushroom-cauliflower mixture. Then I drizzled the saffron milk over that. Then spread the meat (including all of its yummy juices) over that. End with the caramelized onions. Cover the pot (or cover tightly with foil if using a deep casserole dish) and bake for 15-30 minutes (if you are starting with cold meat, expect it to take more like 30 minutes). The biryani is ready when the casserole is steaming and hot throughout.
  7. Sprinkle another teaspoon of garam masala over the hot biryani. Serve garnished generously with cilantro.