Demystifying Kacche Ghosht Ki Biryani

Today I will tackle biryani; a grand mughal dish which has caused many an experienced home cook to shiver in dread.

Biryani is cooked on special occasions: Eids, Walimas, Aqiqahs, dinner parties etc.

I’ve come to understand that not all biryani’s are the same. There are two main cooking methods:

  1. Kacche Ghosht Biryani: partially cooked rice is layered over raw meat and steam cooked.
  2. Pakki Ghosht Biryani: partially or fully cooked meat is layered with rice and steam cooked.

Kacche Biryani is quite difficult to master, with a risk of meat remaining raw, or rice becoming too soggy. Most home cooks will not even contemplate attempting it on a special occasion.
However, the flavour achieved with Kacche Ghosht Biryani cannot be surpassed. As the meat cooks, its taste and aroma diffuses through the rice; and the meat itself remains tender and moist.
In the Pakki Ghost version the meat is already cooked, so the rice is devoid of meaty flavour. It often results in a mix-match conglomeration of rice, overly dry meat and spices.

During our recent live video stream we addressed the three common issues people encounter whilst  making this royal Mughal dish:
1. Meat sticking and burning to the bottom of the pan
2. Overcooked and mushy rice
3. Uneven cooking of meat

Marination of the Lamb

Marinate 2.5 kg lamb meat overnight or for 24 hours in a marinade consisting of :
500g yoghurt
2 good pinches of saffron
1/4 freshly grated nutmeg
1 large spoon sunflower oil
4 tsp ginger paste
4 tsp garlic paste
4 tsp green chilli paste
5 tsp chilli powder
4.5 tsp salt
5 tsp coriander and cumin powder
1.5 tsp turmeric powder

Marinated Lamb

On the day of cooking

Fry 12 medium size onions
Soak (and boil) 200g masoor daal
Soak 1.5 kg good quality basmati rice.

Fried Onions Soak your basmati rice

About 4 hours before serving add following ingredients to the marinated meat.

2 large spoons dessicated coconut,
The drained masoor dall
750g yoghurt
2/3 of the fried onions
1/3 to 1/2 bunch of mint
3/4 bunch fresh coriander
250g tomatoes (Blitz in the blender!)
15 whole dried apricots and 1 Shan Bombay Biryani packet or your own spice mix! (Coriander, cumin, chilli powder, and turmeric). 
Also add more chillies and salt (to taste).

Final Lamb Mixture


Use a good quality long grain Basmati rice, make sure it has been washed and soaked for at least 30min prior to cooking. 

To stop the rice from becoming overcooked and mushy, we will need to use rice cooked to different levels of doneness.

Boil a large saucepan of salted water (1.5 tsp salt per cup of rice) with bay leaves, cinnamon stick, a few cloves and cardamons. Once the water has boiled add in the drained pre-soaked rice and stir once through thoroughly. As soon as the water reboils, use a colander to sieve out approx 1/3 of the rice from the pot, and put this aside to drain. This is your 40% cooked rice.

40% Rice

After boiling the remaining rice for a further 2 minutes, take out the next 1/3 rice (60% cooked) and finally drain the last 1/3 rice (80% cooked) after another 2 minutes of boiling. These steps are an essential technique which will allow all the rice (40-80% cooked rice) to cook to perfect fluffiness, without the rice just above the meat becoming too soggy.

60% rice

Assembly and cooking

Use Potatoes at the bottom of a heavy bottom pot to act as as ‘insurance’ to make sure the meat doesn’t burn or stick to bottom of the pan! Futher details are given in the video above!!

Layer 2.5cm thick slices of potato across the base of a thick based biryani pot. Add the marinated meat mixture directly on top of the potato slices, leaving a gap of approximately 1cm around the edges.  

Place the 40% cooked rice onto the meat mixture and into the gap around the meat.

Scatter over half the remaining fried onions and half of the remaining 1/4 bunch coriander. Then layer the 60% cooked  rice, then the last (80%) rice.

Sprinkle on saffron infused water and the remaining fried onions, fresh coriander and mint. Use a knife or a handle of a large spoon to poke 7 steam holes down through the layers. Finally spread some ghee/butter on top of the rice.

Cooking by dum (steam)

Make a chapatti dough using approx 2 cups flour and warm water,  Roll into a fat sausage and use it to seal the lid of the biryani pot to the actual pot. Alternatively, you could place a heavy weight on top of the pot. Preheat a heavy based cast iron tawwa (used for making chapattis) on the stove. Place the filled biryani pot onto the tawwa and cook on the stove for approx 3 hours; first 10 mins on high heat, then medium/low heat for the rest of the time.

After around 2 hours, the seal will slowly break, as the pressure increases. You’ll see a steady stream of wonderfully fragrant steam escaping from the pot!! Wow, the smell is amazing!! This is a sign that the biryani is in its final stages!! Cook until the steam subsides slightly or for another hour!

Finally cut around the seal with a knife and carefully remove the lid. The Biryani is ready!! Serve with a yogurt raita, poppadoms and Gujarati Chaas (flavoured Buttermilk).

I hope you enjoy the video demonstration and instructions.

I pray you make the perfect Biryani on your special occasions. Please feel free to Snapchat us your results of your wonderful cooking!

Snapchat ID: Haloodiefoodie

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17 Responses to Demystifying Kacche Ghosht Ki Biryani

  1. Fatima July 17, 2016 at 7:46 pm #

    This biryani looks extremely delicious! I really want to have some of this now. Definitely trying out your recipe in a few days.

  2. felix December 18, 2016 at 11:43 pm #

    nice ! thanks mate I have always wanted to lesrn to make biryani , your instructions look nice and straightforward… will try soon!

  3. Mohamed May 23, 2017 at 6:31 pm #

    This recipe is impressive. InshaaALLAH planning to give it a try soon.

  4. Ani August 14, 2018 at 7:50 pm #

    Was amazing mashaAllah. Will definately make it again. Jzk

  5. asi February 29, 2020 at 1:29 pm #

    i tried this method at home with reduced quantities. Definitely works. Biryani came out delicious. Just a quick question, can we use chicken instead of lamb and keep the method and the rest of the ingredients as is? Jazakallah and may Allah bless you and reward you immensely for sharing your recipes in such detail and so selflessly.

  6. Ameera Saleem June 9, 2020 at 8:20 am #

    Hi if I was to make this in the oven what gas mark would I need to leave it on?

    • haloodiefoodie July 28, 2020 at 11:15 pm #

      I’m not sure as we always use the stove top. I guess it’s gonna be a low and slow cook. So gas mark 1 or 3

  7. Kay July 28, 2020 at 11:06 pm #

    Hi, just wanted to check do we need to use ore boiled water to boil the rice or is it best to use cold water? Thank you

    • haloodiefoodie July 28, 2020 at 11:19 pm #

      Boil water (with salt and dry whole spices). Then add the rice. The water will drop in temperature.
      Once the rice take out the first 40% cooked rice.

  8. Zaheen July 29, 2020 at 1:21 pm #

    This is a monumental effort and really takes me back to my childhood when my mum would rig up a biryani just like this for special occasions!

    • haloodiefoodie July 29, 2020 at 1:59 pm #

      Thank you for your kind comments.

      • Sabiha August 2, 2020 at 1:32 pm #

        My biriyani flops every time. Not anymore. AH this is such a fool proof and delicious recipe. Thank you Mr & Mrs HF for always pulling all the stops with your EPIC recipes. May the almighty reward you for your time and efforts ameen!

  9. ummi.101 on Instagram July 30, 2020 at 3:35 pm #

    I had started writing it up from the story on instagram and then Alhamdulillah found this written up step by step! Jazaakallaahu khayran for all the hard work

  10. Jahir October 18, 2020 at 8:16 am #

    Going to have to give this a go. How many people will this recipe feed usually?

    • haloodiefoodie October 18, 2020 at 9:53 am #

      The biryani will cook for 10+ people. Possibly more with sides!
      Enjoy tell me how you get on

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