Lamb Dum Biryani

Lamb Dum Biryani

Prep Time

5 minutes + overnight marinade

Cook Time

3 hours 20 minutes


For the Marinated Lamb:

  • 1 kg diced leg of lamb on the bone
  • 1/2 cup natural yoghurt
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Rajah Red Chilli Powder
  • 1 tsp Rajah Turmeric Powder
  • 1 tsp Rajah Cumin Powder
  • 1 tsp Rajah Coriander Powder
  • 1 tsp Rajah Biryani Masala Powder

For The Lamb Gravy:

  • 3 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil
  • 3 each Rajah Dried Bay Leaves
  • 1 large Rajah Cassia Bark
  • 5 or 6 Rajah Whole Cloves
  • 5 or 6 Rajah Cardamon Pods
  • 1 whole Star Anise
  • 1 tbsp Rajah Biryani Masala Powder

For The Biriyani Rice:

  • 3 tbsp Ghee or Vegetable Oil
  • 1 each Rajah Dried Bay Leaves
  • 1 large Rajah Cassia Bark
  • 3 or 4 Rajah Whole Cloves
  • 3 or 4 Rajah Cardamon Pods
  • 1 tsp Rajah Cumin Seeds
  • 2 1/2 cups basmati rice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 L boiling water

To Assemble The Biriyani:

  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 or 3 green chillies, slit
  • 1 pinch saffron steeped in 2 tbsp hot milk
  • Coriander leaves, to garnish
  • Mint leaves, to garnish

For The Pastry Lid:

  • 3 cups plain or self-rising flour
  • Plain or self-rising flour, for dusting
  • 1 cup water
  • Melted ghee, to brush over the lid
  • Rajah Cumin Seeds, to sprinkle over the lid


  1. To prepare the Biriyani, the most important stage is to marinate the lamb. In a mixing bowl, combine the natural yoghurt, vegetable oil, lemon juice, salt, red chilli, turmeric, cumin, coriander and Biriyani masala powders. Add the diced lamb to the marinade and coat well. For best results, allow the lamb to marinate overnight, if you do not have time allow at least an hour for the lamb to marinate.
  2. Once the lamb has marinated, the first step is to prepare the lamb gravy as this takes the longest. In a thick-bottomed saucepan heat the 3 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil and add in the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves and cardamom pods. Fry in the hot oil for 1 minute.
  3. Once the spices have sizzled, add in the marinated lamb and fry on medium heat to seal the meat all over. When all the pieces of lamb have browned reduce the flame to a low heat, pour in 1L of boiling water, cover with a lid and allow the lamb to cook for 1.5 -2 hours or until the lamb is soft and tender. Stir the lamb occasionally. To speed up the process, you can also cook the lamb in a pressure cooker.
  4. Whilst the lamb is slow cooking, prepare the rice. Rinse the rice to remove the starch until the water runs clear. In another saucepan, heat the ghee or vegetable oil and add in the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves and cardamom pods. Fry in the hot oil for 1 minute then add in the cumin seeds and allow to sizzle and crackle in the ghee or oil.
  5. When the cumin seeds have sizzled, add in the rinsed Basmati rice and top with the boiling water. Simmer the rice on medium to high heat for 8 minutes. The rice must be 75% cooked and still retaining a little bit. Drain the rice in a colander and very gently rinse under cold water to prevent the rice from cooking any further.
  6. Next, prepare the fried onions- slice the onions and heat 1 cup of vegetable oil in a pan, fry the onions for 45 minutes until browned and caramelized. Keep a constant eye on the onions so that they do not burn. Whilst the onions are frying, slice the chillies in half lengthways and pick the mint leaves from the stems. Leave aside.
  7. Next, prepare the dough for the pastry lid. Mix the flour and water together to form a rough dough. Knead the dough out on a floured surface until it is smooth and pliable. Gather the dough into a ball and leave aside until required at the end.
  8. When the lamb is cooked until soft and tender, add in the 1 tbsp of Rajah Biryani Masala powder. You should be left with about 2 cups of gravy in the pan, if there is less, add some more boiling water into the pan and stir well to create more gravy. Before you begin to assemble the Biryani, give everything a final taste test to check the seasoning and spice levels. Preheat your oven to 160°C and select a saucepan big enough to assemble the Biryani in.
  9. Layer the bottom of your Biriyani dish with half of the lamb and gravy. Top the lamb with half of the cooked rice. Distribute the rice evenly to form a loose flat covering over the lamb, next, drizzle over half of the saffron and milk mixture, half of the fried onions, half of the sliced chillies and half of the coriander and mint leaves. Repeat all 3 layers again so that the top is garnished with the fried onions, sliced chillies, mint and coriander leaves.
  10. Roll the pastry dough out so that is 1 cm thick and large enough to cover the top of the Biriyani pot. Brush a little water or milk around the outside lip of the pot. Gently lift the pastry circle on top of the pot and press or crimp it around the edge to form a sealed edge. Neaten the seal by trimming away any excess dough. The pastry lid should not be touching the Biriyani so press the rice down if you have to. For presentation purposes, you can brush the pastry with ghee and sprinkle over cumin or nigella seeds
  11. Place the Dum Biriyani in your hot oven and bake for 45 minutes until the pastry lid is golden brown. The Biryani is best served with raita.