Prep time1 hour, 30 minutes
Cooking time1 hour, 30 minutes
Total time3 hours


My version of biriyani fed dozens of exiled fellow South Africans in the US during the 80s.


1 kg
Basmati Rice
1⁄4 c
cooking oil
250 g
Black lentils
1⁄2 cn
Tomato puree
Cinnamon stick
1 t
Chilli powder (Adjust upward to 2 Tbs)
1 T
Turmeric powder
2 t
Cumin powder (jeera)
4 T
cumin seeds (whole jeera) (Roast in frying pan)
Tomatoes (Finely chopped)
Green chilli (Adjust upward to 6)
2 kg
Lamb (Mutton is tastier. Cut into bite size chunks.)
500 g
Onion (finely chopped)
500 ml
Yoghurt (Amasi is fine. Greek yoghurt is perfect)
90 ml
Lemon juice (Or juice of 3 lemons)
Green Cardamom seeds
1 t
Red chilli (crushed)
1 T
Coriander powder (dhania)
1 t
Cinnamon powder
Potatoes (Quartered lengthwise)
4 T
Ginger & Garlic paste


Fry onions in oil/butter until golden brown. Drain and set aside. Reserve oil/butter mixture. Cook lentils fully in lightly salted water. Drain and set aside. Lightly toast rice over high heat with 2 tablespoons of the reserved oil/butter. Add two teaspoons salt, two litres water, and bring to boil. Cover and simmer on low heat for 10 mins. Remove from heat and set aside. Par-cook potatoes in lightly salted boiling water. Bring to boil. Cover and simmer on low heat for 10 mins. Drain and shallow fry in batches in reserved oil/butter. Drain and set aside. Reserve oil/butter. Hard boil eggs, remove shells, set aside. Blitz yoghurt, tomato (whole and puree), ginger/garlic, powdered spices, lemon juice with a blender. Transfer to biriyani pot. Add whole spices, green chilli and mix gently. Add meat and mix with wooden spoon until meat is thoroughly coated. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes. Add remaining oil/butter mixture to pot and mix gently with wooden spoon until oil is well distributed. Sprinkle fried onions as a layer. Layer potatoes and boiled eggs over onions. Add lentils as a layer on the potatoes. Add rice as a layer above the potatoes. Sprinkle remaining saffron over rice. Seal pot tightly. (I use glue made from flour but a tight-fitting lid is fine.) Bake for 60 to 90 minutes in 180 degrees C oven.