Mutton Pulao: The Best Kept Secret Of The Kayastha Kitchen

Juicy, succulent mutton pieces tossed with flavourful and aromatic spices and rice- no, we aren’t talking about biryani but the one pot dish of mutton pulao. Yes, the two are different. Right from the origins to the method of preparation to spices used, everything differs a lot between the two. Where Pulao is a lot similar to Turkish Pilaf, Biryani's main variants were invented by the Mughals and Nawabs of the subcontinent. Where in biryani, rice is made with the draining method of cooking, pulao uses the absorption method, so the amount of water or stock is completely absorbed by the rice and vegetables in the dish. Now, mutton biryani might be loaded with heavy spices and would take a lot of time to cook, a mutton pulao is light on the spices and isn’t hued with any food colouring. And so, we are here to talk about the latter, and how it is prepared in a Kayastha household. 

Being a Kayastha myself, food is a prime focus on every occasion. From an extravagant Diwali feast to pre-wedding ceremonies or even a Raksha Bandhan lunch, food binds it all together. Non-vegetarian feast includes more of red meat delicacies, recipes of which have been preserved since generations and passed off with minutest of tips and tricks. So a typical style of mutton kofte, pasanda and mutton pulao can be found in a Kayastha household, which is rare to be found at any restaurant.

Chunky, juicy and succulent pieces dunked in a hot-pot of flavourful rice along with a host of aromatic spices - mutton pulao is a dish to relish patiently. And if you don’t have a Kayastha friend or family to make you taste the magic, we’ve got a perfect recipe for you straight from my mother’s kitchen. A recipe that has been passed down to her from my grandmother, and she passed down to me with a cautious warning- “The magic isn’t in the recipe card, but the experience.” I sure agree, which is why I've decided to make this recipe once every second week to have that experience a little sooner. 

Kayastha-Style Mutton Pulao Recipe by Poonam Mathur 


1 kg Mutton pieces (cleaned) 

750 gms Rice (washed and rinsed) 

1 pack of Garlic (chopped) 

2 inch Ginger (finely chopped) 

4 tsp Salt 

3 Onion (medium sized, finely chopped) 

Ghee (as needed) 

2 tsp Garam masala 

1 tsp Red chilli powder 

6-7 Cloves 

2-3 Bay leaves 

2-3 Black cardamoms 


1. Take the cleaned mutton pieces in a cooker along with garlic, 1 inch of ginger and about 2 tsp of salt.  

2. Pressure cook this upto 2 whistles and keep it aside for 10-15 minutes. 

3. Meanwhile, heat ghee in another cooker, add onion, 1 inch ginger, garam masala and red chilli powder to it. Lightly saute these together. 

4. Add the washed and rinsed rice to this masala. Mix well.  

5. Now take the boiled mutton along with the water (yakhni) and add it to the prepared masala. 

6. After mixing the mutton and rice well, add cloves, bay leaves and cardamoms to it.  

7. Mix well and pressure cook for one whistle.  

8. You can prepare ‘birista’ (fried onions) to garnish over the prepared pulao right before serving. They add a unique flavour and crunch to the dish. Serve hot. 

I personally love my mutton pulao with a generous garnishing of fried onion and the gravy of mutton curry on top. You must try to know.