This dish is the crowning accomplishment in any Indian chef's career!!

June 13th, 2012

about ajoy

i’ve been a chef for over three decades now! i trained in chennai and started off with the taj hotel group. i’ve owned nilgiri’s indian restaurant in sydney for over 15 years. i’m on a mission to dispel the myth that indian food is no more than a ‘curry in a hurry’! come with me as i try and educate. indian food is my passion (alongside cricket!) and i’m enjoying exploring the new social media to fulfil this passion! i’ve also published cookery books, been on tv, the radio, won awards! now i’m also moving into making cookery videos. these are simple and easy to follow and don’t go on for hours like some Bollywood movies!

biryani garam masala: includes cassia, cardamom, clove, black cardamom, nutmeg, mace, bayleaf, peppercorn, fennel

On a recent visit to my ‘spiritual hometown’, Hyderabad, I was shocked to hear that there were only six gharana chefs (called khansamas) still alive who could cook the classic dish kachche gosht ki biryani!

This dish was considered to be the ultimate measure of a chef’s skill that would guarantee him the title of “Masterchef”, if he could create it.

These artistes were a breed apart, and in the 60s and 70s they were the only people invited to cook for the Nawab and the Nizam families.

So what became of these ustaads?

Speaking to some of the local residents of the old city, I was told that the fine art of making kachche gosht ki biryani was all but lost as it was becoming surpassed by poorer versions.

A classic kachche gosht ki biryani requires genuine patience and untold love, what we call fursat and mohabbat, and there were plenty of those virtues and emotions, alive and kicking, in the land of the Biryanis!! This Biryani is made with partially cooked rice being layered on top of marinated meat which is ‘raw’ and is then ‘dum cooked’ till the meat and rice come out perfectly cooked!!

However, as the years have passed, people seem to have lost their love for really good, slow food, that is cooked with genuine expertise, and with that they have also, sadly, lost the creators of the dishes along the way.

Most of these chefs ended up dying penniless. What a shame for us all, because not only did we lose the art of cooking this dish properly, we also lost a genuine knowledge base and mentoring.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom as I was extremely lucky to meet one of the ‘survivors’ of this fine art a long time ago.

It was the way he cooked, and the narrative he gave whilst cooking this classic dish, when I had the privilege of working with him, that I’d like to share with you this week.

The ustaad starts by describing the dish as khuda ki daen, meaning G-d’s gift’, and says that it is all about technique and constant, constant practise. Furthermore, he adds, chewing his paan with great relish, the more you try the better you become and, of course, the closer you get to All-h!!

Friends, on the 15th anniversary of nilgiri’s, we salaam these ustaads for helping us preserve this ancient art!!

So, here is my version of the classic kachche gosht ki biryani. It is cooked with deep respect, with patience, with love, and home-made garam masala. What more could one want?!

The dish revolves around six basic techniques:

1. The caramelisation of the onions.
2. The making of garam masala (click here for its recipe).
3. The marination of the meat.
4. The cooking of the rice until it is ek kan or al dente.
5. The layering of the rice over the marinated meat.
6. The dum (baking) of the dish.


Ingredients for biryani, clockwise: caramelised onions, crushed ginger, crushed garlic, garam masala, ground chilli, turmeric, crushed chillies, salt, chopped coriander leaves, chopped mint leaves, yoghurt, saffron threads [soaked in milk]

saffron-infused milk

caramelised onions

To make caramelised onions, watch my caramelised onions video

1 kg goat meat [on the bone], soaked in water to remove any blood

Marinating the goat

Step 1

add half caramelised onions and fold

Step 2

add garlic and fold, then add ginger and fold

Step 3

next add garam masala and fold

Step 4

add crushed chillies and fold

For the garam masala recipe, click biryani garam masala recipe.

Step 5

add 1/2 of the chilli powder and fold

Step 6

add turmeric and fold

Ingredients for biryani, clockwise: caramelised onions, crushed ginger, crushed garlic, garam masala, ground chilli, turmeric, crushed chillies, salt, chopped coriander leaves, chopped mint leaves, yoghurt, saffron threads [soaked in milk]

saffron-infused milk

caramelised onions

Step 7

add 1/2 each of the coriander and mint, and fold

Step 8

add yoghurt and fold

Step 9

add 2 tablespoons oil and fold

Step 10

add 1/2 saffron-infused milk and fold

Step 11

set aside marinated goat for about 1 1/2 hours

Preparing the pot

Step 1

place goat in a large pot so it occupies 1/3 of the pot and add the remaining chilli powder. Do not clean the mixing bowl previously used to marinade the meat

Step 2

add remaining chopped coriander and mint to create a layer

Step 3

add remaining caramelised onions to create a layer

Step 4

set pot aside

Preparing the rice

Step 1

place rice in mixing bowl then add enough water so rice is covered by 2cm of water

Step 2

the rice will absorb the water – when it touches the top of the water the rice is ready to go into boiling water

Step 3

place water in the empty bowl in which you marinated the goat, swill it around, and then pour it into a large saucepan an bring to a boil

Step 4

drain rice and add to boiling water

Step 5

stir rice, but gradually, so the grains don’t break

Step 6

cook rice until it rises to the surface and the water has returned to the boil

Step 7 : Cooking the biryani

Step 1

add drained rice to saucepan containing marinated goat

Step 2

add remaining saffron milk on top of the rice

Step 3



place damp tea-towel on top of the rice

Step 4

Make a soft dough with wholemeal flour, pinch of salt and water (you’ll find full quantities for this in the one-page recipe below).

place dough collar around rim of pot

Step 5

place a lid on top of the pot and seal the gap with the dough

Step 6

half fill saucepan with water and heat pot on moderate  heat

Step 7

when steam escapes from the dough collar the biryani is starting to cook

Step 8

reduce heat and place pot in pre-heated fan forced oven [160C]. When the dough is cooked the biryani is cooked as well after about 1hr !!

Step 9

remove pot and saucepan and break off dough

Step 10

remove tea-towel

Step 11

mix rice and goat together

Step 12

serve KGKB with a mirch ka saalan!

If the Biryani is called the king of Indian Food, then KGKB is called the king of Biryanis!!

Click biryani for a one-page recipe and also, click mirchi ka salaan for a one-page recipe of this delicious, tangy side dish.

Anah Daata Sukhi Bhaava!!


  1. Kachche Gosht Ki Dum Biryani ~ Mutton Dum Biryani ~ Hyderabadi Dum Biryani – Love To Cook

    […] the real secrets for this delicacy is still in hands of the khansamas. According to Chef Ajoy from thoughtsfromajoy, there are only 6 Khansamas, the royal chefs alive who possess the skill of making this classical […]

  2. Ajoy Joshi

    And the age is generally around 7-9 months!

  3. Ajoy Joshi

    Hello Shapna
    Great to hear from you!
    I prefer to use a goat breed called ‘boer’ which is of South African origin. Gives the best results!!
    Hope this helps.
    Happy cooking.

  4. Shapna Mazumder

    Dear Mr. Joshi,
    happened upon your site as I was searching for Mutton Biryani recipe. You see my son is coming home after many months and I wanted to make a special meal for him. I appreciate you taking the time to give us the recipe and technique. I have heard that the goat meat has to be a specific age range in order for getting the best results and was wondering if you had any suggestions. I am in Canada and although we can buy goat meat from a specialty butcher I need to tell him exactly what I am looking for. Looking forward to hearing from you. thank you kindly.
    Shapna Mazumder

  5. Ajoy Joshi

    Sorry Shifa for the delayed response…
    Since we get a very tender meat here in Australia, I don’t use papaya for marination!

  6. shifa farheen

    Hi Ajay, The KGKB looks delicious. You haven’t added the kaccha papaya , is that ok ? Will the meat still be cooked perfectly?
    Shifa Farheen

  7. Anupam Joseph

    This is so cool. Can’t thank you enough for sharing recipe in such detail. Preserving our old classics is of utmost importance. You are doing a great work here..

  8. apsamit

    lovely recipe.can’t wait to make it.just watched u make chicken korma on foodsafarI @fox life . It was amazing..I shall follow ur other recipes too. my daughter and husband love biryani and make at least once a week. This will surely help me make really good biryani..v have nicknamed biryani as BIRU..

  9. healthifiedplate

    Hello sir,
    I am so happy to stumble up on your blog. Your recipes are the best and authentic Hyderabadi dishes. Thanks for documenting this here.
    Can you please let me know why shahi jeera or kabab chini is not used? Are they present in authentic recipe? If so, how much of star anise, kabab chini and shahi jeera should be used?

  10. youmen

    hello again,so the rice is added to the meat without cooking it? usually meat takes more time to be cooked than the rice

  11. youmen

    Thank you and will try it soon 🙂

  12. Ajoy Joshi

    Thanks yes you can certainly use lamb as long as it is evenly diced.
    Happy cooking!!

  13. youmen

    Can we use lamb meat?

  14. youmen

    hi<you don't cook the meat in advance? thanks

  15. Ajoy Joshi

    Hello my friend,
    Great to hear that you tried one of the most ‘complex’ and my all time favourite dish!!
    Firstly, the goat must be ‘kid’ meat, not more than a few weeks in age. This is the first step in getting the KGKB right.
    Secondly, marinate the meat for a little more time than suggested in the recipe.
    Finally, remember, this is Indian food and must be cooked with plenty of ‘fursat and mohabbat. For this you must try and try again till you get it right. Mate remember the difference between being a ‘good’ cook and a’great’ one is ‘tapasya’ or practise and believe me, you will get it!!
    Happy cooking !!

  16. namk7

    Hi Ajoy,
    I tried your recipe yesterday and it came out extremely well. I especially liked that the rice got flavor from being boiled in the vessel with the leftover marinade. I made the Biryani on the stove ( electric coil) instead of the oven and it took me 8 mins on high, 10 on medium and 28 on low for it to be done perfectly.
    My only slight issue was that the goat meat didn’t come out as tender as I thought it would be. Any tips to make it fall off the bone?
    Thank you very much for the recipe. I’m from Andhra and have tried countless recipes for that perfect Hyderabadi dum Biryani but yours was one of the best.
    Please keep posting such authentic recipes and good luck.

  17. iyerland

    The other option is to use a technique called “Bain Marie” where you fill some water in a pot and then put the KGKB pot in that pot (with boiling water) … this also prevents the bottom from getting charred.

  18. Ajoy Joshi

    Thanks for your kind words and good luck with the KGKB. You know what to do when …
    Happy cooking !!!

  19. anandig

    Hello Ajay,
    I discovered your site accidentally and stumbled upon this jewel of a recipe. Love the step wise instructions. I made KGKB last week for the first time over the gas stove and the bottom was charred. I was curious enough to check if the gosht was cooked. The bottom was charred and the top of the mutton was soft. On reading the comments above, I realise my mistake. I should have kept it on a cast iron tawa/grill. I am going to cook it again this weekend and hope it comes out well. I also learnt how to cook rice – ek kan, which I didn’t know before or how to soak it. thanks a lot for these small tips.

  20. iyerland

    Namaste Ajoy,
    One more question 🙂 … for the basmati rice, before you soak it, do you clean it? Do you clean till it stops releasing the white residue? Thanks!

  21. iyerland

    Namaste Ajoy,
    I have found versions of Biryani with shahi jeera (carraway seeds), what exactly does it do to a dish. I tasted it and found it to be very bitter. Also, it seems it is not part of any of your six garam masala. Could you throw some light on it, please? Thanks!

  22. Ajoy Joshi

    Hi Joel,
    Great to hear from you.
    Mate try using a fish called ‘rockling’ or ling as it is called in Australia. You may also try a kind of ‘snapper’ if it is not very oily.
    Happy cooking,
    Anah daata sukhi bhava!’

  23. Joel Thecakesurgeon Bendito

    What about fish? What kind of fish would work for a biryani? Thanks!

  24. Joel Thecakesurgeon Bendito

    Hello Ajoy,
    I’ve been in love with Indoan food for some time and biryani is my favorite dish. Can this recipe and the biryani masala be used to make both a chicken and veggie variation? I love chicken biryani the most out of all the biryani and I was looking for an Awesome recipe! Thanks.

  25. Ajoy Joshi

    Hi Satish,
    Great to hear from you.
    I used a Romertopf to cook the chicken as well in the oven.
    Fan forced oven is good for this.
    Happy cooking!!

  26. Satish

    I have been cooking your recipes and they come out just wonderful. I have a question when cooking in a clay pot in the oven.
    If I want to cook this using a Romertopf in the oven, how much time/temperature should I keep?

  27. Ajoy Joshi

    Hello Dona,
    Great to hear from you.
    You certainly can cook on a gas stove.
    Here is what you can do:
    Place a cast iron plate(grill) on top of the gas and proceed.
    You can buy a grill from Ikea if there is one around.
    Keep the heat to moderate and don’t play around with the heat.
    It’s a trial and error, but I am sure it will work.
    Remember not to give up!!
    Happy cooking!!

  28. Dona Paula

    Hello Ajoy, Love your recipes and presentation style. One question regarding the KGKB recipe: If an oven is not handy, is there a method of cooking the remaining time on a gas stove (STEP 8). Appreciate a reply.

  29. Neelam Chugh

    Thanks Ajoy for your advise, will try your method and let you know how the biryani turned out.

  30. Ajoy Joshi

    Hello Neelam,
    Great to hear from you and the story of your relocation from India!
    They say you can get an Indian out of India but you can never India out of an Indian!!
    As for the KMKB, the moisture at the bottom is possibly due to a number of reasons:
    You may need to use thicker yoghurt like ‘labne’ or hang the yoghurt to remove the ‘whey’.
    Again it is a good idea to drain the rice once it is cooked to aldente or we say ‘ek kan’ to remove any excess moisture.
    Placing an al foil does not allow the steam to rise which in turn prevents the rice from puffing up, making the rice heavy and the moisture to settle down.
    Sealing with dough is good as it allows the steam to build and rise and escape when needed!!
    I hope this helps.
    Remember it is a great dish and you can cook it, just don’t stop trying!!
    Happy cooking!!

  31. Neelam Chugh

    Dear Ajoy,
    My family loves food, specially my husband and youngest son who think of food always.
    When we were moving to Sydney 18 years back my husband was so concerned if we would get “atta”. To which I told him, how many kgs are you going to take with you and how long will it last?” My husband was ready to leave few things behind to carry in place the traditional round dekchi in which the biryani is made. I even carried in my hand luggage the marble “chakla” rolling board to make rotis.
    Anyway coming straight to the point, I do prepare KMKB regularly but didnt know we had to cover the rice with a napkin, which I will put from now onwards. Instead of sealing with the dough, I cover with few layers of foil, and cook on direct heat and not oven.
    My question is though I don’t add any water to the meat/chicken, I tend to get gravy. Is this ok. Do I need to drain out the water from the yoghurt before marinating the meat.
    When I serve the biryani, rice tends to become a wet with the gravy and slighly mushy.
    Please advise where I am going wrong.

  32. Ajoy Joshi

    thanks deeba,
    All you have to do now is simply “give it a go”!!
    happy cooking!!!

  33. Deeba Rajpal (@vindee)

    Love the title…so true! Also love the fursat and muhabbat a good biryani needs. I hope to get there one day! Thank you heaps for the step by step.

  34. Spiceroots

    Ah!! That’s why! ..
    Ok here is a conversation between Neha and Me when you posted this blog.
    N – Heyyyyy!!did you check “thoughts from Ajoy”.. guess what he posted!!!!!!!!
    A – Biryani – goat biryani ?
    N- How did you know?
    A – By your high decibel voice :))
    LOL ! In short we have a small community here in Denver which is called “fansofajoy” :D::D
    And one of my cousins who used to live in Australia wants to go back ” just to eat the food at Nilgiris”
    Keep Rocking, Chef!

  35. Shady

    Dear Ajoy,
    Thank you very much for your post. Having cooked Sindhi Biryani on several occasions which my family absolutely love, I am on the lookout for another authentic recipe and this looks like the one! I will be cooking it tonight and look forward to the vegetarian version when you get a chance.
    Your latest home apprentice 🙂
    PS would love to see a video versions of your recipes with you very charismatic self as host!

  36. Ajoy Joshi

    Hi Neha,
    Great to hear from you and to learn that ‘Biryani’ is your favourite dish!
    Happy cooking and remember to us a young animal for this recipe!

  37. Neha

    Ansh introduced me to your blog and I am hooked now!:) Thanks for the wonderful recipes and their step-by-step directions. Biryani is my all time favorite and I have been wanting to try my hand at making KGKB since some time now.

  38. Ajoy Joshi

    Hi Nicky,
    Will do a vegetarian ‘Hyderabadi’ Biryani soon.
    Happy Cooking!!

  39. Ajoy Joshi

    Hi Ansh,
    Good to hear from you.
    ‘Biryani phool’ is ‘cassia Bud’ if I am not mistaken and is banned in Australia as the bud contains organisms that may affect the food crop of this country. So the closest alternate is Cassia.
    Happy cooking!

  40. Spiceroots

    This totally Rocks!Thank you for preserving yet another piece of old world Hyderabad.
    I don’t see any biryani phool being used.. please enlighten …

  41. Nicky

    Horse! Any veggie versions to share,buddy?? [email protected]🙂

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