Instant Pot

Instant Pot Lamb & Rice Casserole (Lamb Dum Biryani)

December  2, 2018
14 Ratings
Photo by Ghazalle Badiozamani
Author Notes

You know how you make a traditional Indian lamb biryani? First you get ready to dirty about six different pots in your kitchen. Next you obsess over the exact doneness of the rice. What is “50 percent done” or “75 percent done” rice, as traditional recipes ask you to gauge? Then you worry about the lamb not cooking as fast as the rice. Finally, six hours later, when your kitchen looks like a hurricane hit it, you pick up the phone and order pizza. Or you can make this stupid-simple recipe for an authentic biryani instead. Yes, the lamb will cook in the short time, as long as you marinate it and cut it into bite-size pieces. You can substitute beef for the lamb as well, if you like.

This garam masala is the base of much of my Indian cooking. I’ve tried many different recipes, but this is Raghavan Iyer’s recipe (of 660 Curries fame), and he has been generous enough to allow me and all who cook from my recipes to use it. Everyone who has tried it will agree—store-bought garam masalas cannot hold a candle to this recipe. Trust my advice and take the ten minutes to make it. You’ll thank me.

Excerpted from INSTANT POT FAST & EASY © 2019 by Urvashi Pitre. Photography © 2019 by Ghazalle Badiozamani. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. —Urvashi Pitre

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: 9 Instant Pot Indian Recipes for Rich, Comforting Flavor Fast. —The Editors

  • Prep time 50 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 6
  • Rice and lamb
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup minced yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 serrano chile, seeded, if desired, and minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons garam masla, recipe follows
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 to 1 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 pound lamb shoulder or leg, trimmed and cut into bite-size cubes
  • 1 cup water
  • For the garnish
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • Garam masala
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds (from green/white pods)
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 3 dried red chiles, or
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes
  • 1 (2-inch) piece Indian cinnamon (cassia bark), or ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
In This Recipe
  1. Rice and lamb
  2. For the rice and lamb: Place the rice in a colander and rinse under cool running water; set aside to soften and absorb some of the water.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, minced onion, cilantro, mint, chile, ginger, garlic, garam masala, salt, turmeric, cayenne, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. Whisk to combine. Add the lamb and toss to coat. Allow the mixture to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes while the rice rests.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the garnish: Preheat the broiler to high. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  5. Break the onion slices apart with your fingers and arrange them on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and season with the salt. Toss to combine. Broil the onions for about 15 minutes, stirring only once or twice.
  6. In the Instant Pot, arrange the lamb mixture so it covers the bottom of the pot. Carefully spread the rice all over the meat in a uniform layer. Carefully pour the water over the rice, gently pushing down on the rice until it’s submerged in the water. (Do not mix the lamb and rice together.)
  7. Secure the lid on the pot. Close the pressure-release valve. Select MANUAL and set the pot at HIGH pressure for 6 minutes. At the end of the cooking time, allow the pot to sit undisturbed until the pressure has released. (This part is important, as it approximates the traditional steam cooking process.)
  8. Serve topped with the browned onion garnish and the cilantro.
  1. Garam masala
  2. In a clean coffee grinder or spice grinder, combine all the ingredients. Grind, shaking the grinder gently as you go so all the seeds and bits get into the blades, until the mixture has the consistency of a moderately fine powder.
  3. Unplug the grinder and turn it upside down. (You want all the spice mixture to collect in the lid so you can easily scoop it out without cutting yourself playing about the blades.)
  4. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to a month. Shake or stir before using.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Liz D
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Dr. Urvashi Pitre is the President of a global marketing consulting firm, and also the author of the best-selling Indian Instant Pot Cookbook, one of Amazon’s Best Books of 2017. She combines her training as a scientist with her desire to make fast, healthy, authentic, global cuisine, and experiments extensively to create the most streamlined recipes that use fresh ingredients. WEBSITE: FB PAGE: FB GROUP: PINTEREST: INSTAGRAM: YouTube:

    15 Reviews

    Khelling December 2, 2020
    Can I use ground lamb?
    Author Comment
    Urvashi P. January 15, 2021
    Maybe? But in that case, you will want to reduce the cook time to 4 mins under pressure.
    Ds14248 January 14, 2020
    Can this be made with chicken thighs? Lamb can be a little gamey for some. How would it change the cooking time?
    Author Comment
    Urvashi P. January 14, 2020
    Indeed it can. But here’s the recipe to follow for that. It’s a slightly different taste but it’s very popular with my blog followers.
    Liz D. July 18, 2019
    I've made this several times. I used a less turmeric & added some crumbled saffron threads on top of the rice. I find some of the rice gets a little overcooked, but all in all it's a great recipe when you're craving biriyani
    Susan March 26, 2019
    Can someone at Food52 please update this recipe to include how much water to use in step 5??? I don't think recipe users should have to comb through the comments to figure this out. I'm relieved I was able to find this in the comments, as I am literally in the midst of making this, but still...
    Author Comment
    Urvashi P. March 26, 2019
    I've just fixed it! I hope you enjoyed how it turned out.
    Susan March 26, 2019
    Thanks so much! I apologize if my comment seemed snippy! I was extremely pleased with how the recipe came out. Truthfully I was a little skeptical that it would all come together and that the lamb would be tender, but happily everything worked perfectly. Thanks, again!!!
    karen May 9, 2019
    Exactly I I had already printed the recipe out & just guessed at the water & over estimated by 3/4 C. 😔
    Ashley M. February 5, 2019
    I made this tonight! Delicious and will definitely make again. Here are some notes to help with the recipe (because the cooking time is very vague)

    1) can prep early. Mix yogurt with all spices and marinade meat. I started my marinade at 10am (because that's when I had free time to prep!)
    2) this dish would be just as good with chicken! So if you don't eat lamb don't let that stop you from making it!
    3) the home made garam masala is delicious, but don't let prepping this stop you from making this. I'm sure store bought garam masala would be fine
    4) The recipe says to cook at high pressure for 6 minutes. HOWEVER it does not mention that first you have to achieve high pressure. This can take anywhere from 5 - 30 minutes! (for me it took about 20 minutes)....then the 6 minute timer starts. THEN you're supposed to let it sit "undisturbed until pressure releases". This also takes a while (it can also take from 5 to 30 minutes, depending on the quantity of liquid in the Instant Pot.) GIVE YOURSELF 1 FULL HOUR OF COOKING TIME.
    5) Definitely serve with cucumber yogurt riata! Great combo of flavors!
    Stacy January 30, 2019
    Made this last night and I am obsessed. I didn't have coriander or ginger or mint or a pepper (oops) and I ran out of cilantro for garnish (augh) and I still thought it was flavorful and tender and delicious and EASY. Next time will serve with a cucumber yogurt salad raita kind of thing, I think.
    Author Comment
    Urvashi P. February 5, 2019
    So glad to hear this!
    Author Comment
    Urvashi P. January 14, 2020
    I don’t know why I am only now seeing this—almost a year later! But I sure hope you’re still enjoying it.
    Dogolaca December 14, 2018
    I’m guessing one cup water at Step 5. Can the author please clarify?
    Author Comment
    Urvashi P. December 17, 2018
    yes that is correct :)