Fragrant basmati rice layered with a spicy and delicious beef curry, I mean what could be better than that, right? However, do you feel daunted to make it biryani at home? Well, not anymore. Learn how to make my favourite Pakistani Beef Biryani at home today, with easy step by step photos and tips.
What is Biryani? And is it spicy?
Let’s talk about Biryani and why it’s lovely, shall we? Biryani is a popular layered rice and meat dish that’s loved across all over India and Pakistan.
Biryani has two main components: fluffy, fragrant basmati rice and a delicious saucy beef (or your choice of protein) curry or masala. AND, it’s super delicious.
It’s also what I would say the equivalent of Sunday roast in Pakistan, as it’s almost always made once a week either on Friday (mostly) or Sunday in most households in Pakistani. And usually when Biryani is in the making, Zarda a sweet rice recipe is also made on the same day as dessert. It is a lovely and popular combination.
Biryani is also quite a popular recipe made on special occasions such as Eid.
It’s spicy depending on the type of biryani you’re eating, but yes generally biryani is supposed to be on the spicier side.
However, if you’re not tolerant of high spice levels, then of course you can reduce the amount of spice used in this Beef Biryani recipe. We don’t eat very spicy food at home either, so I make a milder biryani at home.
An interesting fact btw: The word Biryani is derived from Persian language! Apparently, according to Wikipedia, Biryani is derived from the Persian word birinj which means rice.
Types of Biryani
There are SO many types and variations of biryani across the region of Pakistan and India:
Beef Biryani (we’re making this today - yum!)
And even vegetarian biryani!
There are also different methods of making biryani too, layered rice and meat curry (we’re making this today) and dumpukht biryani where the uncooked meat masala is layered with rice and cooked in a sealed clay pot on low heat for hours.
Whatever type of biryani you’re making, I can guarantee that they’re all super delicious!
What Kind of Rice Should You Use for Biryani?
In Pakistan, the most popular rice that’s used to make biryani is ‘sella’ basmati rice. However, I almost never have sella rice at home, so I just use a good quality long grain basmati rice for my beef biryani.
To Use readymade Biryani Masala (spice mix) or Not?
You could use homemade Biryani masala, but these days Shan Biryani Masala is so readily available and gives an authentic taste. So I recommend using a readymade spice mix, as it just makes the cooking process a little easier.
You could however use homemade biryani masala if desired. Here’s a link on how to make biryani masala at home.
Can I use Chicken instead of Beef in this Biryani?
Yes, absolutely! The cooking time for the meat masala will be less though, as chicken cooks faster than beef.
To Aloo or Not to Aloo in Biryani?
Lol, I just had to add this question. There’s a huge debate in Pakistan whether Aloo (potatoes) belong in biryani or not. I’m a huge proponent of adding potato in biryani, because it soaks up the beautiful masala curry flavour and it’s all yummy yum!!
Do you like Biryani with or without aloo / potato? Please tell me, because it’s a burning question I’ve had for long.
How to Prepare Easy Beef Biryani at Home
Beef Biryani is super easy to make and while it may seem many steps are involved, I can guarantee you that they’re all totally worth it.
So let’s get down to making Beef biryani step by step, shall we?
Beef Biryani is comprised of three cooking steps: the beef masala, the rice, and the final topping and assembling of biryani.
Making the Beef Masala
Since we are using beef in this recipe, I like to make the beef masala in the pressure cooker as it’s just faster and easier. However, if you don’t have a pressure cooker, the beef masala can be slow cooked on the stove until the meat is cooked through.
Start by frying thinly sliced onions in the pressure cooker until they are a deep golden brown. Add in the beef along with the ginger garlic paste.
Saute on high heat until the beef changes color.
Add the yogurt, tomato, spices and Shan biryani masala.
Cook on high heat, while stirring, for about 5-7 minutes.
Now add the water (beef should be submerged in water) and pressure cook until the beef is cooked through. This may take about 15-20 minutes depending on the cut and type of beef you’re using.
Once the beef is cooked through, add the cubed potato. You need to cook the beef masala on high heat until the excess water evaporates and the oil separates from the curry and you can see it on the surface of the curry. The cubed potato should be almost cooked through. The beef masala should not be watery.
After the beef masala is ready, set it aside while you make the rice.
Making the Biryani Rice
Biryani rice is special because A.) We add some fragrant spices to make it all biryanilicious B.) It needs to be parboiled (not fully cooked)
In a large pot, bring the water to boil. Add the water with the spices and boil until the rice is just cooked i.e. par boiled or as we say in Urdu aik kani. The rice is ready when you press it between your thumb and index finger and it’s not completely mushy in the middle. It should be al dente.
It’s important to not overcook the rice at this point, because when its cooked in steam, it will overcook and become mushy.
Once the rice is ready, drain it in a colander.
Assembling the Biryani
In a separate large pot, layer half of the rice. Then add the beef curry, and top with sliced lemon and chopped coriander.
Cover with the remaining rice.
Drizzle over the milk, and some yellow food colouring mixed with water.
Drizzle with melted ghee or butter.
Sprinkle more chopped coriander and lemon slices if desired.
Cover and steam cook on low flame for 8-10 minutes until the rice is fully cooked.
Mix the biryani carefully and serve with raita.
What to Serve with Beef Biryani?
Biryani is usually served with some sort of cooling raita or salad. Here are some delicious options that pair really well with Beef Biryani:
Cucumber Raita (my favourite pairing with Beef Biryani)
Greek Salad (This one is a bit out there, but seriously do give it a try!)
Desserts to Pair with Beef Biryani
Zarda Rice (seriously SO good and most popular pairing with Biryani)
Shahi Tukda (if you’re hosting a dinner or dawat and want to go all fancy)
Easy Pakistani Beef Biryani Recipe
For the Beef Curry / Masala
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 1 large onion thinly sliced
- 600 grams beef cubes
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
- 2 medium tomatoes roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup yogurt
- 1 inch stick of cinnamon
- 2-3 pieces of cardamom
- 4-5 black peppercorn
- 1-2 cloves lavang
- Salt as per taste
- 4 tablespoons Shan Biryani Masala
- 2 cups water
- 1 large potato cut into 2 inch cubes
For the Rice
- 2.5 cups basmati rice soaked in water for 30 minutes
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- Few slices of lemon
- 2 to 3 leaves of fresh mint
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 6-8 cups of water
For the topping / dum
- 1/4 cup milk
- Few drops yellow food color dissolved in a little bit of water
- Handful of chopped coriander
- 1-2 tablespoons of ghee butter or oil
For the Beef Curry / Masala
- In a pressure cooker pot, heat oil and add the thinly sliced onion. Saute until the onion is golden brown.
- Once the onion is golden, add the beef cubes along with the ginger garlic paste. Saute on high heat until the beef changes color.
- Now add the tomatoes, yogurt and the whole spices (cardamom, peppercorn, cloves, and salt).
- Also add the Shan Biryani Masala.
- Cook on high heat, while constantly stirring for about 5-7 minutes. Add 2 cups of water, the beef should be submerged in liquid.
- Now cover the pressure cooker pot with its lid and bring to pressure. The cooking time will vary from 5-10 minutes depending on the cut of the beef and also the size of the beef pieces. The beef I used took about 10 minutes to cook through.
- Now add the cubed potato.
- Cook the beef on high heat, stirring frequently until excess liquid has evaporated and the oil has separated from the curry. Also the cubed potato should be almost cooked through too.
For the Rice
- Now in another large pot, bring water to a boil and add the rice, cumin seeds, lemon, chopped mint, oil and salt. Cook the rice until it is parboiled (3/4 cooked). Drain the rice in a colander.
- In a separate large pot, layer half of the rice. Then add the beef curry, and top with sliced lemon and chopped coriander.
- Cover with the remaining rice.
- Drizzle over the milk, and some yellow food colouring mixed with water.
- Drizzle with melted ghee or butter.
- Sprinkle more chopped coriander and lemon slices if desired.
- Cover and steam cook on low flame for 8-10 minutes until the rice is fully cooked.
- Mix the biryani carefully and serve with raita.