Simplified Beef Biryani

Biryani is a South Asian dish full of spices, tender meat, and fluffy rice cooked together in one pot. It’s complex and flavorful and can be intimidating to make–so here is my simplified version!

The Base

To make my simple beef biryani, start by warming a pot on medium heat and adding sliced onions and salt. cover and cook on medium low, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. It’s important to do this low and slow to prevent burning and really develop a good amount of flavor.

Spice Mix

Once the onions are ready, add minced garlic and ginger. Saute for just a couple of minutes, then add the spices. I use Shan Special Bombay Biryani Spice Mix. It has all the spices needed for briyani, including the whole spices! Toast the spices for a couple more minutes, then add a 1/4 cup of yogurt and 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. Toast again for a couple minutes and now its time for the meat!

The Meat

Biryani can be made with so many different kinds of proteins. The most popular choices are chicken and beef–but there is also more, such as fish biryani, shrimp biryani, and paneer biryani! In my simplified version, there is no need for marinating beforehand, just have clean prepped meat (washed and cut if necessary) ready to use when the cooked base is ready.

Beef Cooking in Spices

To make beef biryani, add bone in beef chunks to the pot once the base of the biryani is ready. Give it a stir to coat the meat in the spice mixture, then cover and cook on medium low heat until it releases its juices-about 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, uncover the pot and add enough water to cover the beef. Bring the mixture up to a simmer, then cover, and turn the heat low. Continue to simmer gently until the meat is completely tender-about an hour. Be sure to check on the beef and mix occasionally throughout the cooking process to prevent burning. The gravy should not be watery-if it is, uncover the pot and continue to cook until it thickens and the excess water evaporates.

The Potatoes

Potatoes in Biryani

Potatoes are completely option, but many biryanis have potatoes along with the meat. If you want to add them, simply peel and cut about the same size as the meat pieces. Then. toss them in towards the end of the meat cooking. Once they are tender and a knife can be inserted into one without resistance, they’re ready and it’s time for the rice.

The Rice

The final part of biryani is the rice! Basmati rice is the traditional rice choice to use, and usually the rice is soaked and boiled separately, then drained and spread over the meat and steamed.

The Rice in Biryani

For the simplified version, wash the rice and soak in cool water while taking care of the biryani base and meat.

Once the beef is tender, drain the rice and pour it right on top. Cover the rice with water using a 1:1.5 ratio. Bring the pot to a boil, then turn it all the way down to low and cover with a lid. Cook for 25 minutes. Then turn off the heat and allow the dish to rest for a few minutes fore uncovering.

Finally, garnish with cilantro, give it a gentle mix, and your biryani is ready!


serves 4-6

Time: 2.5 hours

  • 2 cups basmati rice, washed and soaked in cold water for 1 hour
  • 2 lb bone in beef
  • 1/4 cup neutral oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 2 tbsp Shan Special Bombay Biryani Mix
  • 1/4 plain yogurt
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • Optional: 2 russet potatoes, sliced and cut evenly
  • 3 cups water, more to cook beef as needed
  • Chopped cilantro to garnish


  1. Heat a pot on medium low, add oil, onion, and salt. Mix, then cover and cook gently until golden brown-about 30 minutes
  2. Add garlic and ginger, saute for 2 minutes, then add spices and toast for an additional 2 minutes
  3. Add the bone in beef and mix well. Add yogurt and tomato paste, mix again, then cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the meat releases its juices
  4. Add a splash of water and continue to cook simmering gently until beef is tender-about an hour
  5. Optional: add potatoes about 45 minutes through the beef cooking
  6. Once the meat is tender, add rice and water. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to low, cover, and cook for 25 minutes.
  7. After 25 minutes, turn heat off and rest for five minutes. Uncover, and garnish with chopped cilantro. Mix gently, serve, and enjoy!

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