My Mom’s traditional biryani



About this Recipe

By: Mayuri


Today, I have a real treat for you. It’s not something I ever make, but I can assure you on the odd occasion Ba does, we almost always ask why we don’t do this more often. A Sunday meal for sure, this traditional layered way of cooking it, is quite time consuming and not exactly the healthiest option with all the extras. The potatoes are deep fried, the nuts and onions that go on top are fried in more oil than I would care to admit. But these are all things we can change to suit our personal preferences.

The Masoor and Rice are cooked separately – the masoor (brown lentil) usually takes quite a bit longer than everything else, so it is important to start with this first. You can either pressure cook it or just leave it to boil while you are busy with the vegetables and rice. At the end of each layer we add some sourmilk (maas/inkomasi) the amount here is all depending on how moist you would like the Biryani to be. I would say about 2 -3 tablespoons is a good amount.

*I replace the sourmilk with greek yogurt

For this meal we make Chaas which is a sourmilk based gravy to pour over the Biryani. All you need to do for this is water down about 1L of sour milk and add salt, about 1/2 tsp of ground cumin and a tsp of crushed garlic, add some crushed green chili if you are that way inclined! You could also chop up some coriander finely and throw it in as well. I also love making what we call sambles. It’s basically just chopped up tomato and onion, throw in some salt and olive oil (freshly chopped green chillies for the brave) and you have a great bowl of sambles!

I have used a larger recipe for today as it is usually something that is generally cooked when the table is full. I love it when the table is full!

Traditional Biryani










  • 1 Tbsp Oil
  • 1 Tbsp ghee
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds (rai)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds (jeeru)
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida (hing)
  • 2-3 medium sized cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 4 cloves
  • 3 cardamom
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 white onion (chopped)
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1 cup carrots (chopped)
  • 1 cup green beans (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup double beans (optional)
  • 1 tsp crushed ginger
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • green chili to taste
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 2 cups rice (we used brown)
  • 3 large potatoes (chopped large)
  • 1 cup brown lentil (masoor)
  • 1 cup of sour milk (maas/inkomasi)
  • 2 Tbsp Oil
  • 6 almonds chopped in half
  • 1/2 a white onion
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • chopped green onion


Step 1

Boil Masoor for about 10- 15 mins or until soft.

Step 2

Cook rice (do not allow for over cooking.

Step 3

In a large pot add your oil, ghee and all the dry spices. Braise for a minute then add in your chopped onions. Braise until glazed.

Step 4

Add in your peas, carrots, green beans, double beans and mix well. Thereafter add in your ginger, garlic, chili, salt and tumeric.

Step 5

Mix well and allow to cook for 15 mins on a medium heat. Add water if necessary.

Step 6

Chop potatoes and deep fry just until they are slightly golden. Drain and cool.

Step 7

In a small frying pan place on high and add your 2 Tbsp Oil, fennel seeds, chopped almonds, 2 bay leaves, 3 small cinnamon sticks , onion and chopped green onion. Fry well and add on top of final layer of Biryani

Step 8

In a Casarole dish of your choice begin layering your ingredients. Starting with the rice, masoor, vegetables and sour milk. Repeat for layer two. End on layer 3 just place rice masoor

Step 9

Optional – Bake for 10 mins before serving at 160 degrees.

Step 10

Serve hot with Chaas and Sambles.