Beef Biryani Recipe - Skillful Cook
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Beef Biryani

10 reviews / 4.8 average

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.

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A picture of Beef Biryani

Beef Biryani

  • Author: Skillful Cook
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x


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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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    I wasn’t a Nick fan, but totally melted over the grocery store comment, too! I wasn’t a Josh fan either… What I don’t get is WHY Andi wasn’t more sensitive to Nick’s feelings, especially if she didn’t want that secret to come out. Why do I feel so passionate about this?!

    I’ve always wanted to make biryani at home since it’s one of my favorite Indian dishes… I might need to get on it when I have a nice Sunday at home!

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    Your commentary on The Bachelorette made me chuckle out loud! The recipe looks great–I was just talking with my neighbor last night about searching for some new Indian inspired recipes to make together. Your timing could not be better.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I was also talking to my neighbor about food, why does every conversation revert back to food? No idea. But isn’t it funny that I know what they’re all having for dinner and they know what we’re eating? They’re having French toast and paninis. We’re having chili and fruit salad.

      And I also was looking for a good Indian inspired food recipe, the restaurants where I live are more on the expensive high-end side so I’m hoping to improve my cooking in this area! Like Lindsay says, she doesn’t do a lot of beef recipes and I love beef, I eat chicken and veggies as much as I can but look forward to delicious recipes like this when she posts them.

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    I can’t believe how invested I am into the show either, Lindsay! I mean for some crazy person reason I feel like Andi’s decision is going to directly effect me or something! haha it’s so crazy how into these shows we get! But with that begin said, I was so happy Josh won, he’s been my fave from day one..and I think they look great together. And they are both Atlantans! The only thing I am sad about now is that I have nothing to look forward to on Monday nights!

    Oh and ever since I saw that bachelorette recap website in the comments on a previous blog I have been shamelessly checking it every week. Soo good. 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      It’s insane. Ridiculous. Thankfully time has sort of given me a sense of separation, but that first day after I watched the show was rough. It was as if it was my real life. Leave it to those trashy TV shows to reveal to myself that I’m WEIRD and creepy.

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hi & thanks so much for the lessons on setting up a Gravatar as well as Starting a Food Blog. FoodBlogger Pro has been a lifesaver for me these last couple weeks. Look forward to all your daily blogs. Testing my Gravatar now! Thanks again.

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    I adore Indian food – growing up, my mom used to make THE. BESTEST. chicken biryani that perfumed the house for days after with, raisins and nuts and spices galore and your beef biryani is so reminiscent of my mom’s!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I love hearing that! Someone commented on Instagram and told me that raisins and nuts are not “authentic” in biryani, which seemed to be true when I researched on Wiki, but all the recipes I’ve seen and tried always have raisins and nuts (and that’s my fave part)!

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        I grew up in Kerala South India , In that part of India there is no biriyani without caramelised onion and roasted raisins, cashew nut.
        And your recipe is the perfect way of cooking beef biriyani.
        Because oven was not very commen in India we use to put burning charcoal on the top after sealing the lid.
        Thanks for this , We can refer this each time we cook.

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    I have not watched Bachelorrette and now I am curious. Everybody around me in the gym is talking about it .

    And this Biryani, looks delicious. I am surprised that there is yogurt in the sauce. I will surely try this, but is fenugreek seeds? Where can I get it? Thanks and God bless!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Shobelyn, I bought mine at a local co-op. You can also probably find them at an Asian food store. Otherwise I think you would be okay to just omit them if it’s really a hassle to find them.

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    This is just great! We order chicken Biryani almost every Friday. Now I know how I can make it with beef, or chicken for that matter. I also agree that no matter the temperature outside, you should cook whatever you feel like.

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    You love the Bachelorette too!?!? Gosh I knew there was a reason I loved this blog! And yes seriously Andi saying at the end that she didn’t love Nick kind of made me question the realness of the show. I mean, some of it is real because there have been some marriages and babies come from the show. However It was obvious to me she really just kept the rest of them because she had to, not because she was interested in marrying them. I also saw her and Josh mention on Kelly and Michael that they had run into each other at a club before she was even announced as Bachelorette. Sounds fishy to me! Regardless poor Nick! He was totally justified in asking his bombshell of a question why did you f&$@ me then? Sorry I changed his words but apparently they weren’t making love after all. Lol ok bachelor rant over. This recipe looks great, enjoy your cabin time!

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    Even my husband was hooked….think it might have been something about that Andi. lol When Nick spilled the beans about you know what, he lost. Hubby thinks that a man should treat a woman with tender care, regardless if she is not perfect and so Josh became the hero of the day. Hubs does not think ANYONE should kiss and tell. I just flat out loved Josh from day one so I was a happy camper.

    Love this recipe. Indian, Thai and good Chinese food are our favorites so we want to give this a try. Today is our 37th anniversary and off we go for Thai…and the good old Red Curry and Pad Thai. Thanks for the recipe and you have also given me some new ideas for Christmas dinner…….. So sick of turkey!

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    I was rooting for Nick because I felt her rejection of him would be tougher than Josh would take it. Kind of the athlete vs the geek. I love geeks.

    I have never made a dish like this. If I hide the raisins in it, my hubby might taste it. I would totally love it!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I agree! Exactly! Poor geeky, nerdy, unnatural Nick. I just really felt bad for him. But maybe in the end he’s dodged a bullet…

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    I totally agree with you about being a summer weather snob! Living in Minnesota you learn to appreciate all the perfectly nice and sunny days a lot more when you have more cold days then warm ones!

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m totally with you on the Nick business. Loved him the whole time. Wish we could watch trashy tv together. 🙁

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      This comment. My heart. We understand each other through TV drama. PS. Do you see Nick all the time since you live in Wisc? 😉

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    It’s downright damp and chilly in Maine today, and this kind of dish sounds perfect for the weather. Now if it would only magically appear on the table!

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    LOVE Indian food. I’d have to take the beef out, but I totally dig the spices! And I feel you in regards to the cool weather we are experiencing this summer. I want HEAT!!!!!

    Now, onto the subject of Andi, Josh, and Nick.

    Nick scared me, he had a hard time looking people in the eyes when he talked to them and he shook his head no while saying yes kinds of things (especially to Andi’s dad). He was kind of a stalkerish type in my opinion, and he proved it at the end.

    My daughter and I fell for Josh the first time we saw him. He’s the total package and they make a great couple. Sorry, but this Midwestern girl (who grew up just north of Milwaukee) had to root for the hunky guy from the south. 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      It’s true that he had a hard time with the eyes. Nick was never one for the camera. But I liked him all the same. 🙂 Maybe it’s the Wisconsin thing…

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m smiling because my husband and I have also been on a big Indian cuisine binge lately too. Cannot get enough of it, I tell you! Just last Saturday, my husband spent the better part of the day making tandoori chicken then transforming it into Butter Chicken. So not a summer dish but soooo awesome.

    Great minds and all… this looks fab!

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    I feel really good about cumin! It’s one of my favorite spices. I’ve never had this before, but it looks so good. I’m out of beef, so I’m going to try it with shredded pork. Thanks so much for the recipe. Glad you are enjoying your rest and your family!

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love that you’re sharing a ‘non-summer recipe’! I struggle with that in the Alaska summers…which can be 50 degrees and pea soup worthy. I know the rest of the country wants salads and summer foods, but sometimes you do have to make what you crave! Love it!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      So true! It’s the same for us here, and as much as I try to fit the expected recipes for the season… I also wanna eat what I wanna eat. 🙂

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    Sounds lovely, but how the h*ll do you feed 6 people on 1 lb of beef?!? And I’m not even a big meat eater, but less than 100 grams per portion is seriously mean.

  19. Skillful Cook Logo

    Oh my goodness, I am beyond excited to try this recipe. Sitting in my office with my mouth watering right now. But I think I’ll wait until it’s not 90 degree days all the time… 🙂

  20. Skillful Cook Logo

    Good for you on your life style change! It sounds wonderful. I’ m glad it’s working out. This recipe reminds me sooooo much of a type of rice dish I get at a Thai restaurant. I love it. So I had to pin this. I know this is right on target for my taste buds.