Chettinad lamb/mutton biryani – Karaikudi restaurant style recipe and the winner for the giveaway is

Everyone of us love biryani in any form, be it with veggies or eggs or seafood or meat. We enjoy a hearty meal of biryani with cold raita and chalna or kurma. My very close friend Prerna of Indian Simmer started  a conversation in facebook about Madurai biryani. We all chipped in our answers and one thing which everyone said was seeraga sambha rice, a key ingredient in Madurai biryani. They are aromatic rice which look like cumin and hence gets its name seeragam (which is the Tamil name for cumin seeds). They are most expensive rice grown in Southern India.
The other ingredient is lamb. You will need tender lamb (young goat) to give the biryani that extra “yum” effect. Of all the different types of briyanis known to me, my most favourite one will be lamb/mutton biryani. The meat from goat adds such intense flavor and taste to the aromatic basmati rice. I don’t know there is something about lamb meat.
During my initail days in the US, I have stumbled upon butchers asking whether I wanted lamb and goat meat. Initially I was so confused on which one to ask the butcher as in India we refer any goat meat as mutton. It was as simple as that. Did you know? They refer goat meat as hagget in Australia. Lamb as the name suggests is the meat of a sheep in its first year – young and tender. The meat of the sheep which are older than one year is called hogget and lastly the meat of an adult sheep is mutton. But here I have found a local halal butcher who serves our community with lamb and goat meat and I buy the lamb meat every time.
Today I am sharing the recipe for one of the most famous biryani my husband loves. It’s my mother-in-law’s CHETTINAD STYLE MUTTON BRIYANI. She is one of best non-vegetarian cooks I have known. Her dishes are truly authentic and has the typical flares of Mudaliyar cooks. May be someday I will write an e-book on different non-vegetarian Mudaliyar cuisine with her.  I learnt to cook this recipe from her this time when she visited us. The technique to get fluffy, loose briyani is simple. She had used long grain basmati rice instead of seeraga sambha. My MIL’s mutton briyani tastes similar to the ones we get in Karaikudi or Virudunagar restaurant from Chennai.
1. First step will be to cook the meat with ginger-garlic paste, turmeric, chili and coriander powder for 5 whistles in a pressure cooker. Remove the meat and reserve the water. That is the key step to avoid adding excessive water to your rice.
2. Second step will be to soak the rice for minimum two hours and drain all the water before adding to your cooking pan. The water to rice ratio must be 1.5: 1. Use any cup if can find, it could be your tea cup or glass tumbler. But remember to use the same one to measure both rice and water.
3. She uses 2 green chillies for 1 cup of rice. For the total of 4 cups rice, she suggested we can reduce to 6 green chillies to make it less spicy.
Source: Mother-in-law
Serves: 4-6

For the meat base
2 pounds lamb/goat/ mutton – cleaned and washed
2 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon salt
For the mint-cilantro paste
Make a paste with the following –
1/4 cup mint leaves
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
6 Thai green chillies (you can reduce 2 if you want it less spicy)
For the rice
2 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
2 cardamons
1 inch cinnamon stick
4 cloves
2 bay leaves
1 large onion – chopped
2 green chillies
1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
1 tomato – chopped
2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoon coriander powder
4 cups basmati rice (soaked for 2 hours, cleaned and rinsed)
1 cup coconut milk (optional)
4 cups + 1 cup mutton broth
+ 1 cup more water (if omitting the coconut milk)
Juice of half a lemon
Salt to taste
1. Pressure the lamb/goat/ mutton for 5 whistles. I sometime cook it for 6-8 whistles. It is just going to make your meat tender. You can increase the number of whistles if the meat is more.
2. Cool down, drain the broth and reserve it for cooking the rice. Keep the meat aside.
3. Use a deep cooking pan with a fitting lid.
4. Add oil to the pan. Once hot, add cardamons, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves and saute for a minute. Then add the onions and cook for 10 minutes on medium heat. Let it brown a bit.
5. Add the green chillies and ginger-garlic paste. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
6. Mix in the mint-cilantro paste and saute well to combine.Add the tomatoes and saute for couple of minutes. Add the spice powders (turmeric, chili and coriander powder) and cook for further 3-5 minutes.
7. Throw in the cooked meat and pour the mutton broth, coconut milk and water. Rise the heat to high and bring it to a boil. Simmer the flame and add the rice and salt. Check for seasoning. Pour the lemon juice.
8. Stir to combine and cook covered for 18-20 minutes. Switch off the flame and let it rest for another 10 minutes. Remove and gently fluff it out with a fork.
9. Serve hot with raita and kurma.
Additional notes
1. You need a total of 6 cups water for 4 cups of pre-soaked basmati rice. If the broth turns out to be 1.5 cups, then adjust the amount for the liquid mathematically. For instance, for 1.5 cups broth it will be 1 cup coconut milk + 3.5 cups water.I served my biryani with delicious chicken sukka masala and onion raita.

The winner for the YUME BLUSH giveaway is THE SQUISHY MONSTER. Congrats to Squishy Monster and please contact me to receive your prize.

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  1. Biryani looks so flavorful with lamb! Wish I had a plate of this for dinner 🙂 And congrats to the winner!

  2. Omg… This is tempting too much…. Perfectly made

    Event: Dish name starts with O

  3. Dear Vijitha
    How are you? Very nice recipe and bit different than the ones I know..I take note of the method of cooking . Hope to make it soon
    Have a nice week
    PS can you please remove the robotic test , it is very irritating as most of the time i cant read correctly and put a comment at on go

  4. Crush the three spices together with the pestle, add them to the other spices, and blend them thoroughly with the spoon.

  5. Cant take my eyes from ur irresistible briyani,looks yummy and full of flavours.

  6. Hi there. This week's Food on Friday is all about lamb! So it would be great if you linked this in. This is the link . Have a good week.

  7. Pingback: Keerai Kootu (Spinach and Split Moong Bean stew) – Virudunagar Restaurant Style | Spices and Aroma |

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