Easy one-pot recipe for Lamb Biryani, a popular meat and rice dish from the Indian subcontinent. Marinated meat is layered with nutty basmati rice, flavored with aromatic garam masala, saffron and herbs, and steam cooked to perfection in the Instant Pot.
Simplified One-Pot Recipe for Lamb Biryani
Since biryani is a slow-cooked dish and involves multiple steps, it is typically served on special occasions.
Everyone in my family 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.
I simplified my original recipe and the cooking process and successfully converted this into a one-pot meal, while maintaining the same slow-cooked infused flavors.
Two Styles of Cooking Biryani
There are two ways of making biryani, Kachhi Biryani or Pakki Biryani. The ingredients are pretty much the same but cooking styles are different.
In Kachhi Biryani, pronounced as 'Kuh-chee' Biryani, the meat is marinated with spices and yogurt overnight. Basmati rice is cooked partially and then layered with the meat, and steam cooked (dum), which is created by sealing the pot with wet dough.
Pakki Biryani, pronounced as 'Puck-ee' Biryani is a three-step cooking process. First, the rice is cooked. Simultaneously, the meat curry is cooked, then the two are steamed together so the flavors infuse.
Using Long Grain Basmati Rice for Biryani
I like making Biryani with Extra Long Grain Basmati Rice, but any long grain rice would work in this recipe. The aroma and nuttiness of the basmati rice compliments the warm spices amazingly well.
How to Make Instant Pot Lamb Biryani
I start by marinating cubed lamb in yogurt with garam masala, paprika and ground cardamom.
Then, 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.
Pressure cooking the lamb and rice in the Instant Pot or any electric pressure cooker, helps to creates a steam cooking environment, called "Dum", which results is a perfect harmony of infused flavors!
Using Homemade Garam Masala in this recipe
In this Biryani recipe I use the popular Indian spice-blend, called garam masala, for flavoring the lamb and 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. Try this easy recipe for Homemade Garam Masala.
It's perfectly ok to use store-bought garam masala. But since those sit on the shelves for long, they lose a little bit of flavor over time. I like to add an extra ¼-1/2 teaspoon more of the store-brought brand to this recipe.
Making Fried Onions for Lamb Dum Biryani
Fried onions are a huge contributor of flavor in any Biryani recipe. Typically, I make it 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. And for times when I am preparing them at home, I use one of these two ways:
This is a nice hands-off way of making fried onions. I use this method, and while the onions are cooking, I do the prep-work for Biryani.
- Alternatively, I line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. I toss thinly sliced onions with melted ghee or oil on that.
- Pre-heat the oven to 425F and cook the onions for about 20 minutes, till they are golden brown.
Instant Pot or Skillet Method
- Slice 2 medium onions thinly.
- Heat the Instant pot on SAUTE (high), or, a wide skillet on medium high heat, and add 2-3 tablespoons ghee or oil and add the onions.
- Stir every 3-4 minutes till the onions get 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. Remove from pan and keep aside.
Make a Meal: What to Serve with Lamb Biryani
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 for preventing the rice and meat from burning at the bottom
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.
Instant Pot: Maintaining some liquid in the pot before closing it for pressure cooking is key to preventing the burn message. The yogurt and meat generate enough juices that are sufficient for pressure cooking.
But if you feel that the liquid is not enough, you can add ½ a cup of water.
More Indian Rice Recipes from my Kitchen
- Chicken Biryani
- Vegetable Biryani
- Egg Biryani
- Quinoa Vegetable Biryani (Vegetarian)
- Achari Paneer Biryani (Vegetarian)
- Chana Masala Biryani (Vegan Chickpeas Biryani)
- 2 tablespoons ghee or avocado oil
- 1 large onion (or two small) thinly sliced
- 1 pound lamb stew meat boneless, cut in 1-inch pieces
- 1 small green bell pepper thinly sliced (optional)
- ½ cup plain yogurt
- ½ lime juiced
- 1 tablespoon ghee or oil
- 1½ tablespoons ginger garlic paste ¾ inch ginger + 4 cloves of garlic ground together
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder (or regular paprika)
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon cardamom powder fresh, 3-4 green pods, deseeded and ground
- Turn on Sauté and adjust to high. Add 2 tablespoons ghee or oil, sliced onions and a pinch of salt. Stir every 3-4 minutes till the onions get golden brown, which takes around 12-14 minutes. Turn off Sauté and remove the onions. Keep aside for later. Skip this step if using store-bought fried onions.
- Combine yogurt, ghee, lime, ginger garlic paste and all the spices for the marinade. Add lamb pieces, half the browned onions, sliced pepper, and toss well with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. If you're planning in advance, you can marinate the meat overnight in the refrigerator.
- Meanwhile, rinse and soak basmati rice for 15 minutes. While rice is soaking, heat water in the microwave for 1 minute and add saffron to it. Keep aside for later.
- Heat the Instant pot on sauté mode. Add marinated lamb and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Cancel sauté. Add 2-3 tablespoons water and scrape off any brown bits that may have stuck to the pot. Spread the meat in a single layer. Sautéing the meat is optional, but I recommend this for enhancing the taste.
- Spread rinsed and drained basmati rice on top of the lamb. Pour water over that. Sprinkle salt and top with the remaining fried onions and chopped cilantro. Add soaked saffron along with the liquid. Gently push down the rice under water. Don't mix.
- Close the lid, turning the vent to sealing position. Cook on Manual (High) for 6 minutes. Wait for natural pressure release (NPR) for 10 minutes. Open the lid and let the steam evaporate for 5 minutes.
- Now gently fluff the rice with a fork. Let the Biryani rest for 5 minutes, uncovered. This lets the excess moisture escape. Serve with cucumber raita (cucumber-yogurt dip)!