Kerala-Style Mutton Dum Biryani: A Feast For The Senses
Image Credit: Biryani/

You hear the word biryani, and you’re left drooling and whetted conjuring the flavorful and abundantly yummy taste onslaught of all the biryanis you have had. Hold on, you are yet to try the Kerala-style Mutton Dum Biryani, which is a thorough celebrity among the many regional versions of biryanis. The ecstatic flavours of whole spices and the beautifully and richly marinated mutton cooked partly in water and partly in coconut milk help it retain the characteristic feel of Kerala with an excellent taste and cooking expertise. The double layering of rice with fried onions, cashews, raisins, coriander and mint leaves without any additional sprinkling of biryani and garam masala makes it a neatly-cooked potpourri of heavenly aroma and flavours.

The Legend Of Biryani 

Biryani or nothing? So complete and fulfilling is biryani that it seems like a panacea for all the uncontrollable urges for a perfect meal. This beautiful meal has gained name and recognition with its share of stories. The word biryani is validated by several historians to be Persian in origin, where some suggest it be related to the Persian word Birinj meaning rice, some relate it to biryan, meaning to roast or to fry, and some allude it to bereshtan meaning roasting onions. 

When it comes to its origin, it is overwhelmingly attributed to the Mughal Empire’s rule in India. The historian Lizzie Collingham, believes the present-day Biryani to have developed in the royal kitchens of the Mughal Empire of the 16th Century, which was a mix of native spice dishes of India and Persian pilaf or pulao. However, Pratibha Kiran, the writer of the book Biryani, suggests that it is derived from pulao and was brought by the Arab traders to South India for the first time.

A typical biryani is made with Indian spices, rice, and usually some type of meat, popularly chicken and mutton with or without eggs and potatoes. Today we have a lot of versions of biryanis - from veg biryani to the versions that include prawns, meat, and more.

Here’s the recipe for Kerala-style Mutton Dum Biryani.

Preparation time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Servings: 4-5


1. 1 kg basmati rice 

2. 1 kg mutton 

3. 1 tsp turmeric powder

4. 1 tbsp black pepper powder

5. 1-3 tbsp ghee

6. Salt, to taste

7. 6-7 garlic petals

8. 1 medium ginger 

9. 4-5 green chillies

10. 4-5 onions 

11. 1 cup coconut milk 

12. 1 tsp fennel seeds

13. 4-5 cardamoms

14. 2-3 tsp curd 

15. 1 bowl of chopped coriander leaves 

16. A handful of mint leaves

17. 2 star anise 

18. 1 cinnamon 

kerala biryani

1. Make a coarse paste of ginger, garlic and green chillies and set it aside.

2. Then grind whole spices or garam masala; cardamom, cinnamon, and star anise into a paste.

3. In another pan, heat coconut oil and ghee, add the sliced onions, saute it till it becomes golden and set it aside.

4. In a large bowl, put the cleaned mutton pieces. 

5. Then add turmeric powder, black pepper powder, salt, ghee, ginger-garlic paste, garam masala paste, curd, coriander and mint leaves and mix well. 

6. Then add to this mix sliced tomatoes and fried onions and lemon juice and mix everything well and leave it to be marinated.

7. While the rice gets cooked, in a pan, take the leftover oil from fried onions, add the marinated mutton pieces, and water and mix all well, cover and cook for 10-20 minutes. 

8. Then open the lid, add coconut milk, mix well and cook well until mutton pieces become soft.

9. Meanwhile, fry cashews and raisins in ghee until lightly golden and set aside.

10. Wash the biryani rice well and soak it for ½ hour.

11. For cooking rice, take a large pot, add 4-5 cups of water, put some ghee in it and add salt, and whole spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and star anise in it. Bring it to a boil

12. Then add biryani rice, squeeze half a lemon, cover and cook until it is almost cooked.

13. Now, take another biryani pot, spread ghee to the bottom, place half the rice over it, then add fried onions, coriander, fried cashews and cooked mutton on the rice.

14. Then add the remaining rice on top of the mutton, coriander and mint leaves, fried onions, and fried cashews and spread all the contents of the pan to make an even layer.

15. Close the biryani pot with a lid, and seal the edges of the lid with the dough. Put some kind of heavyweight over the lid to allow faster and complete steam cooking.

16. Set off the flame, when the steam starts coming out of the dough.

17. Let it rest for 10 minutes and open the lid and serve hot.