Lamb Dum Biryani is an extremely popular meat and rice casserole from the Indian subcontinent, in which nutty basmati rice are flavored with aromatic spices like garam masala and saffron, layered with marinated meat, and steam cooked to perfection.
Two Styles of Cooking Biryani
Cooking biryani is an acquired skill! There are two ways of making biryani: the Kachchi Biryani (raw meat biryani), and the Pakki Biryani (cooked meat biryani).
In Kachchi Biryani (raw meat biryani), the meat is marinated with spices and yogurt overnight. Basmati rice is cooked half way through and then the two are layered together in a pot, and slow cooked on dum (steam), which is created by sealing the pot with wet dough. The traditional recipe is time consuming process, in which time and cooking temperature needs to be monitored and adjusted a few times to avoid over, or under cooking the meat.
Pakki Biryani (cooked meat biryani), is a three-step cooking process for Biryani, cook the rice, cook the meat and then cook the two together. The meat is marinated in yogurt and spices, and cooked till it’s almost done. Partially cooked basmati rice are then layered on top and cooked through with the meat and it’s gravy, using the steam cooking technique.
Easy One-Step Recipe for Lamb Dum Biryani
Since biryani is a slow-cooked dish and involves multiple steps, it is typically served on special occasions. In my family, everyone is such a die-hard biryani fan, that we didn’t think it was fair to have to wait for special occasions to have this delicious meal. So, I simplified this lamb recipe and the cooking process, while maintaining the same slow-cooked infused flavors. After a few tries, I finally nailed it!
In my easy pressure cooker recipe (see video recipe below), I marinate cubed lamb in yogurt and fragrant earthy spices, like garam masala, smoked paprika and ground cardamom. I layer the meat in the pressure cooker and spread rinsed and drained basmati rice on top. I top that with aromatics like fried onions, chopped cilantro and mint, and pressure cook it in the Instant Pot electric pressure cooker.
Pressure cooking the lamb and rice in my Instant Pot, helps to creates a steam cooking environment, called “Dum”, which results is a perfect harmony of infused flavors! To learn more about the instant pot, check out my Instant Pot FAQ and Accessories page.
I like making Biryani with Extra Long Grain Basmati Rice, but any long grain rice would work in this instant pot recipe. The aroma and nuttiness of the basmati rice compliments the warm spices amazingly well.
Homemade Garam Masala:
In this recipe and many Indian food recipes, I use the popular Indian spice-blend, called garam masala, for flavoring the lamb, as well as the rice. I like to make my own garam masala blend. It takes under 15 minutes to make enough to last me a month, and the end results are so worth the little effort. If you have the time to make yours at home too, try this easy recipe for Homemade Garam Masala.
Making Fried Onions for Lamb Dum Biryani
I feel that fried onions are a huge contributor of flavor in any Biryani. I mostly make it them at home, but that takes a bit of time. When I’m short on time, I use store-bought fried onions from Trader Joe’s, and those work great for Biryani. When I am preparing them at home, I use one of these two ways:
- I slice 2 medium onions thinly. I heat the Instant pot on SAUTE (high), or, a griddle on medium high heat, and add 2-3 tablespoons ghee or oil and add the onions. It is important to keep stirring every 3-4 minutes till the onions are golden brown, which takes around 12-14 minutes, depending on the size of the cooking pot. The wider the surface area, the quicker they brown.
- Alternatively, I toss thinly sliced onions with melted ghee or oil. Pre-heat the oven to 425F and cook the onions for about 20 minutes, till they are golden brown. This is a nice hands-off way of making fried onions. I typically make mine using this method, and while the onions are cooking, I do the prep-work for Biryani.
Lamb dum biryani is best served warm, with a Cucumber Raita (cucumber-yogurt dip) and/or a garden salad drizzled with fresh lime vinaigrette.
Stovetop Pressure Cooker Lamb Biryani Recipe
Simply follow all steps from 1-3. Cook on high pressure for 1 whistle, reduce the heat to medium. Continue to cook for 8 minutes (this time may vary depending on the heat level of your burner). Turn off the heat. Let it cool for 15 minutes or till the pressure releases naturally. Open the lid and fluff the rice with a fork.
Pro-tip: Once the cooker reaches pressure, I reduce the heat to medium. Then, I place a flat griddle or skillet on the stove. I place the cooker on top of that. This ensures that the meat cooks evenly, and doesn’t burn at the bottom.
More Biryani / Rice Pilaf Recipes that you may enjoy:
Instant Pot Chicken Biryani
Quinoa Vegetable Biryani
Achaari Paneer Biryani (Vegetarian)
Chana Masala Biryani
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Lamb Dum Biryani - Instant Pot / Pressure Cooker
- 1 lb. lamb leg steak boneless, cut into 3/4-1 inch pieces
- 1 onion thinly sliced (optional)
- 1 green bell pepper thinly sliced (optional)
- 1/2 cup greek yogurt
- 1/2 lime juiced
- 1 tablespoon ghee or oil
- 2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste 1 inch ginger + 6 cloves of garlic ground together
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika (or Kashmiri red chili powder)
- 3-4 teaspoons garam masala
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
- Prep: Rinse and soak Basmati rice for 20-30 minutes. Keep aside. In the meantime, marinate lamb.
- Marinate Meat: Combine all ingredients listed under "marinade". Add lamb pieces, sliced onions and peppers, and coat well with marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. If you're planning in advance, you can marinate the meat for up to overnight in the refrigerator.
- Prep the Biryani: Add marinated lamb meat in the inner pot of the instant pot and spread it around the bottom of the pot evenly. Add rinsed and drained Basmati rice (Long grain rice) on top and spread it evenly. Sprinkle salt. Top with fried onions and chopped cilantro. Warm the water, add saffron to it, and add to the instant pot. Press down gently so that the rice get submerged. Don't mix.
- Pressure Cook: Close lid. Turn Vent to Sealing position. Cook on Manual (High) for 6-8 minutes, depending on how thick the lamb pieces are. Wait for natural pressure release (NPR) for 10 minutes. Open the lid and gently fluff the rice with a fork. Let the Biryani rest for 5 minutes. This lets the excess moisture escape. Serve warm with Raita (Cucumber-Yogurt Dip)!
Stove-top Pressure Cooker
- Simply follow all steps from 1-3 using your stove-top pressure cooker. Cook on high pressure for 1 whistle. Reduce the heat to medium. Continue to cook for 8 minutes (this time may vary depending on the heat level of your burner).
- Turn off the heat. Let it cool for 15 minutes or till the pressure releases naturally. Open the lid and fluff the rice with a fork.
- Pro-tip for stove-top pressure cooker: Once the cooker reaches pressure, I reduce the heat to medium. Then, I place a flat griddle or skillet on the stove. I place the cooker on top of that. This ensures that the meat cooks evenly, and doesn’t burn at the bottom.