thalassery beef biriyani recipe

Beef Biriyani





30 min


2 hours min


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Beef Biriyani

Total time is not inclusive of Marination.

This is a traditional delicious recipe for the Authentic Beef Biriyani from Thalassery in the Malabar district.

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  • 1 kg ‏beef/buffalo meat with some fat, bone and tendon. Ask for a combination. If this is not possible use the best cut of beef ( shoulder cut), cut into medium sized pieces.

For Par Cooking the Meat:

  • 6 pods ‏of green cardamom (elaichi/ elakkai)
  • 2-3 small sticks ‏of cinnamon (dal chini / karuvapatta)
  • 20 ‏cloves (loung/ grampu)
  • 8 segments ‏of star anise (chakr phool/thakkolam)
  • 1 ½ blades ‏of whole mace (javaitri/jathipathri -the reddish outer net of the nutmeg)
  • ½ Tbsp ‏fennel seeds (saunf/ perumjeerakam)
  • ½ Tbsp ‏black peppercorns
  • 1 Tbsp ‏red chilli powder
  • ½ Tbsp ‏turmeric powder
  • 1 stem ‏of fresh curry leaves
  • 1-1½ stems ‏of fresh coriander (leaves)
  • 1-1 ½ sprigs ‏of fresh mint leaves
  • 10 small cloves ‏of garlic ( the Indian variety)
  • 3 1" pieces ‏of ginger ( roughly the same amount of ginger as garlic)
  • To taste : ‏salt ( about 1 tsp)

For the Masala:

  • ½ cup ‏garlic cloves ( the Indian variety)
  • ½ cup ‏peeled ginger
  • 5-8 ‏small green chillies ( add more if you like it spicier)
  • 4 ‏red onions, sliced ( about 2 cups)
  • 1 Tbsp ‏fennel seeds
  • a few ‏curry leaves
  • 2 medium sized, ‏ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • ½ tsp ‏turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp ‏black pepper powder
  • ½ cup ‏thick and sour Yoghurt, well beaten
  • A large handful ‏of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp ‏Malabar Garam Masala (Check out my recipe)
  • Juice of half ‏lime (small Indian yellow limes)
  • ½ cup ‏coconut oil ( for true authentic taste)
  • To taste: ‏salt
  • 4 cups ‏jeerakasala/kaima rice (approx 780 gms)

For the Rice and Fried Garnish:

  • 4 cups ‏jeerakasala/kaima rice (780 gms)   - Use Basmati if unavailable
  • ¾ cup ‏ghee (RKG)
  • 6 ¼ cups ‏boiled water
  • 5 ‏cardamom pods
  • 5 ‏cloves
  • 4 small ‏broken sticks of cinnamon
  • Half of ‏a nutmeg, left in one piece
  • A pinch of ‏fennel seeds
  • 3 ½ tsp ‏salt
  • 2 large ‏red onions, sliced extra-finely using a mandoline slicer
  • ½ cup ‏raw cashew nuts
  • ¼ cup ‏kishmish / or golden sultanas
  • 2 Tbsp ‏chopped coriander leaves
  • Juice of one ‏Indian yellow lime (1- 2 tsp)
  • 1 tsp ‏rose water
  • 1 cup ‏of plain flour mixed with water to form a dough for sealing the pot (For the Dhum)
  • Extra ‏garam masala,fresh coriander as needed


Par-cook the meat:

  1. Rinse the meat pieces thoroughly and drain well.
  2. Add all the garlic, ginger, spices and herbs For Par – cooking the Meat into a spice grinder and grind to a smooth paste, adding just a spoon o water if needed.
  3. Add this paste (About 4-5 Tbsp) to the meat. Also, add salt. Rub well to marinate the meat for 30 minutes.
  4. Add just half a cup of water and cook in a heavy based pot (covered) over very low heat for 1- 1/12 hours. Moisture will be released from the meat, so you do not need to add more water. We need the meat to be 3/4th cooked and all liquids to be absorbed without scorching the meat. If you feel it gets too dry before cooked 3/4th – add a little bit of water as needed. Make sure to stir the meat every now and then to check on its progress, as meat cooking times may vary.
  5. The meat will be edible but not quite tender yet. Set aside.

Prepare the Masala and soak the Rice:

  1. Rinse the rice gently once. Add a generous spoon of salt and rub into the rice. Scrub the rice gently but thoroughly. Then soak for 5 minutes. Keep drained while you prepare the Masala.
  2. Add the ginger, garlic and green chilli to a mortar and crush to a smooth paste. (These ingredients, crushed on stone provide the deepest flavor for this dish).
  3. In a heavy based pot ( this will be the same pot that you use for the ‘Dum’ – Steamed, layered cooking of the Biriyani ), add the coconut oil and heat.
  4. Season the oil with the fennel seeds and curry leaves.
  5. As soon as the seeds have popped, add the sliced onions and sauté well till the onions are just beginning to turn golden.
  6. Next, add the crushed paste of ginger, garlic, and green chilli. Sauté till the raw smell dissipates.
  7. Now is the time to add the sliced tomato. Stir and cover the pot. Cook for 2 minutes on medium heat. Open and stir well. Mash the tomatoes with a wooden spoon.
  8. Also, stir  in the turmeric powder and black pepper powder at this stage.
  9. Once the tomatoes are mashed to a pulp, add the whisked(beaten) yoghurt and stir briskly to avoid curdling.
  10. Turn up the heat and add the par-cooked meat now.
  11. Toss gently but thoroughly, adding a little extra salt for the masala. (Remember the meat was already cooked with salt).
  12. Allow the meat to be heated through with the masala.
  13. Add chopped coriander leaves, garam masala and lime juice. Stir once. Set aside.

For the Fried Garnish and Rice:

  1. Heat the ghee in a small deep pan.
  2. Add the finely sliced onions and fry till golden and crisp. Keep an eye on this. At first it may seem to turn color very slowly, but once they start going golden, they can burn very quickly! Strain and set aside .
  3. Also, fry the cashews will pale gold and the kishmish till plump. Set aside.
  4. Strain the ghee into a heavy based pot ( to cook the rice).
  5. Heat again. Add the whole spices and as soon as fragrant, add the drained rice.
  6. Stir gently and fry for 2 minutes.
  7. Add the pre-measured hot water and salt. Also, add some chopped coriander.
  8. Cover with a tight fitting lid and cook on the lowest heat till the water runs dry. Stir only once or twice half way through the cooking.
  9. As soon as the water is absorbed and rice cooked, remove the whole spices that have floated to the top. Especially cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  10. Add the lime juice and rose water and toss up lightly with a fork from the bottom of the pot so that the rice does not overcook in the residual steam trapped at the bottom. I like to leave the pot under a fan to cool off if possible.

For the ‘Dum’ – Sealed cooking method for Thalassery Beef biriyani (Dum Biriyani) :

  • The biriyani will be layered for the ‘Dum’ – in the same pot in which the meat masala was made. The pot must be heavy based for best results and have a tight fitting lid.
  • Keep the masala layer on the bottom. We will top this with rice in 3 layers.
  • Divide the fluffed up and aerated rice into 3 portions. Add the first layer. Sprinkle some garam masala and fried onion over the top. Add the next layer and add the same plus some chopped coriander this time. Add the last layer and add topping over the top. You can add the fried nuts and kishmish now, or later while serving.
  • Form a dough with the plain flour and water. Roll into a cylindrical/rope shape and press all around the inner side of the tight fitting lid. Flip this over and cover the pot quickly. Press to seal all gaps. Make sure there is no space for steam to escape.
  • Now you can place this on a very low heat for 10 minutes. After this switch off the heat and leave the seal unbroken for 15 minutes.
  • Use a knife to pry open the dough which has hardened by now. Enjoy the lovely aroma that fills your kitchen!
  • Gently scoop the masala and meat layer from the bottom and mix it with the rice to get an evenly distributed light yellow colored rice.  Do not overmix!
  • Serve with a basic yoghurt-onion-tomato-greenchilli Raita and Malabar Pappadoms.

Beef Biriyani


  • Crushing the ginger, garlic and green chillies on a stone or using a pestle and mortar is the traditional method and it is proven to give the best flavour every time!
  • Certain ingredients are especially vital to this dish. Coconut oil and Ghee combination. Indian garlic( the smaller variety), Indian small yellow lime(nimbu). Kaima rice, although Basmati may be used as well. Thick, slightly sour yoghurt. Mint and Coriander leaves along with some curry leaves which are usually absent from Biriyani recipes. A unique blend of spices.

Key Ingredients for Beef Biriyani: Biriyani Rice, Beef/Buffalo Meat, Onion, Tomato, Ginger, Garlic, Green Chilli, Yoghurt, Oil, Spices, Herbs, Salt.


Let me know if you tried –  Beef Biriyani – by leaving a COMMENT below. You can also mail me a pic of any recipe you have tried –

read the recipe introduction 300x81 Beef Biriyani



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