Beef Biryani

Beef Biryani on a plate with a fork.

You guys. Cabin life is taking me overrrr.

All the sleeping, reading, snacking, walking, swimming, baking, iced coffee-ing, chatting, and picture-taking of my chubbiest cheeks sweet baby nephew Charlie… eek!  It’s almost like I could just live here and never come home. And/or this has morphed into my home. We’ve always been fortunate to have the summer schedule of teachers that allows us to come up to the cabin for at least a week every summer, but this year things hit a whole new level because it’s not even like we need to go back home after the first week is done to do any classroom prep or attend any back to school anythings (imma blogger now), and we can just stay here foreverer and then some. *kidding Mom*

Instead of heading back home to get back to work, we just make the most of our vacation by getting up early every morning and sitting at the table where I’m sitting now, tapping away on the computer and getting blog aka “work” things done while drinking our coffees and looking out over the lake.

Which, by the way, is freezing cold and the sun has been hiding basically the whole week and I’m not even grouching about it at all except WAHHH! When you suffer all winter long only to have to wear long sleeves and jeans in the summer… ugh. I am a summer weather snob.

But chilly days are good days for slow cooked, fragrant, make your house smell amazing beef biryani.

Sauce in a skillet and beef in another.

If I’m being honest with you, it takes a loooong time to make biryani as I discovered when I made this last week. Remember when I posted the chicken shahi korma deliciousness with paneer and raisins and that heavenly creamy sauce? That was about the time I went on an Indian food cooking binge and just raided my old school but awesomesauce cookbook (this one) and YouTube and blogs and websites for all the best inspiration for some delicious homemade Indian food.

Thumbs down to me for being a food blogger who posts long, slow-cooked recipes in the summer. I’m sorry – I’m more of a make-what-you-want-to-make-because-you’re-craving-it-right-now vs. obligations to the rules of blogging kind of cook.

But five hundred thumbs up for how good this tastes. The biryani (and the beef! I mean, guys, I never do beef so this is a big deal) gets so much deep flavor and tender loveliness from all the time spent cooking with the simmer sauce that I’ve decided I want this to be my new Christmas meal. It’s the kind of meal that needs day of TLC in the kitchen – you’re going to start a few hours early and cook it and love it and smell it and simmer it and then you’re going to heap it on a plate and have it taste like food magic in your mouth. So that’s Christmas, right?

Summer // Indian food // Christmas // messed up // just ignore.

Beef Biryani in a black skillet.

Okay, biryani things aside, we have to check in about something real quick.

Last night Bjork and I got caught up (thanks Hulu) with the Season Finale of the Bachelorette. I mentioned my cringe-worthy love for this trashy and addicting show a few posts ago and I loved hearing all your feedback, your candidate loyalties, and your general support of addiction to these drama-magnet shows. This is why we jive, you and me. As a bonus, in the comments of that post, someone directed me to this Bachelorette recap site, which was the highlight of my year and makes me want to talk TV all the time on the blog. Except, food. Yeah yeah yeah I guess we do food.

But I just want to say one thing about the finale and that is this: I have been rooting for underdog Midwestern boy Nick all along, and you can throw tomatoes at me, I know, I know, nobody liked him, but really, Andi? Did she really not love him? Because it sure looked like she did, right up until she casually told him it was a no-go.  I fell for the trickery just as much as he did, and I’m seriously sad/mad/vicariously heartbroken this morning. I am out. of. control.

Josh and Andi – totally cute, great couple, good fit. That’s all fine and good. But… sigh. When Nick told her that he couldn’t wait to go grocery shopping with her in their future life, and she told him he should be “confident” about the proposal day (like what? mixed signals, Andi!), I melted into a puddle on the floor imagining them picking out crackers and milk together. <– aaand it all comes full circle back to food. sort of.

Should I be worried at how easily I got wrapped up in this show after watching for just one season? Is it because I’m a newbie? I almost feel like it’s enough TV drama-stress and confusion for me not to watch it again. Allllmost.

Beef Biryani on a plate with a fork.

So now that the heartbreak is out of the way: leftovers.

You know the leftovers are going to be even better than the biryani was on the day you made it, right? I topped my leftover biryani with some leftover korma sauce (what is my DEAL) and it was the best leftover lunch I’ve had all summer. A plate of hot, fragrant comfort food in the middle of summer. With tender, fall apart, delicious pieces of locally-raised beef. Is there a full moon right now?

This biryani is all about the almonds, the golden raisins, the herbs, the fragrant basmati rice, the slow cooked tender juicy beef, and all the warm spices. So it’s all about the everything.

Save it for the weekend when you have a few hours to bop in and out of the kitchen – a stir here, a simmer there – and you will be rewarded with this dish and its beautiful, flavorful leftovers. Definition of winning.

A picture of Beef Biryani

Beef Biryani

  • Author: Pinch of Yum
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6


This Beef Biryani recipe is made with golden raisins, toasted almonds, saucy beef, warm spices, and fragrant basmati rice. So, so good.


For the simmer sauce:

  • 1 white onion (half used here, half used below)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 1-inch piece ginger
  • 3/4 cup thick plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup water

For the biryani

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1 lb. beef (I used a pack of pre-cubed meat that was labeled “stew beef”)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin (a little less is okay, just see how you feel about it)
  • 1 teaspoon ground roasted coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice
  • 3 cups beef broth


  1. Make the simmer sauce: Cut the onion in half and set one half aside for later. Cut the remaining half into quarters. Place in the food processor with the garlic, cilantro, and ginger. Puree until smooth, adding a little water if needed. Set aside.
  2. Caramelize the onions: In a large ovenproof pan over medium low heat, melt 1/2 tablespoon butter and 1/2 tablespoon oil. Cut the reserved half onion into thin slices and add to the pan. Caramelize/fry onion until golden brown and sweet tasting, about 15 minutes. Add the almonds and raisins and stir fry until everything is slightly softened, toasty, and golden nummy. Set aside.
  3. Make the beef: Return the pan to the stove and melt the remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter and oil over medium high heat. Add the steak pieces – sear them so that they get nice and browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Wipe excess grease out of the pan; add the simmer sauce from step one to the pan. While it simmers, measure the spices and add them to the pan. Stir fry until very fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the yogurt and about 1 cup water and stir until smooth. Add the browned beef back to the pan with the simmer sauce. Cover and simmer gently for 1 hour.
  4. Prepare the rice: While the beef is simmering (yum!) soak the rice in cold water and then rinse thoroughly to remove the starch – this helps it from being too sticky later on. Heat 3 cups of beef broth in a saucepan and bring to a low boil. Add the rinsed rice and simmer, covered, for 5-10 minutes. The rice should be partially cooked but it’s okay if it’s still a little raw. It will finish cooking in the oven. Drain off the liquid and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Finish it off: Spoon the rice on top of the beef and make a small well in the middle for moisture. Sprinkle the caramelized onions from step two over the rice. Cover with two tight layers of foil and a tight fitting lid. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before fluffing with a fork and serving. Top with cilantro and serve with chapati or naan.


When simmering the beef, it’s really important to give the beef plenty of time to get nice and tender. If the liquid evaporates in the pan, just add a small amount of water, yogurt, or both; stir and continue simmering.

I purchased my fenugreek seeds at a local co-op where they were sold in bulk. I just got one tiny bag (enough for making this recipe a few times) and it cost 40 cents. yayyy

  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 15 mins
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: Indian

Keywords: beef biryani, biryani recipe, indian beef recipe

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