Food - Meat Recipes

All kinds of delicious meat, stews and potjiekos recipes from South Africa and the world

Cape Malay Biryani

Biryani has a history as rich as the dish is flavourful, with some culinary historians fixing the aromatic stew’s first appearance in time as far back as 2 A.D., when, over in India, Tamil cooks would conjure up the rice and meat combo to nourish military warriors before battle.

Since then, the traditional recipe’s made its way from the barracks of Persia to the royal palaces of India and all the way down to Cape Town, South Africa, where it’s become the stuff of legend in Cape Malay households.


1kg mutton or lamb, cubed
15mL grated ginger
10mL garlic, finely chopped
5mL salt or enough for taste
100mL cooking oil
300mL hot water
6 –7 potatoes, peeled and cut in quarters
625mL rice of your choice (recommended: basmati rice)
250mL lentils
3 onions, sliced
A few dollops of butter

For the marinade
3 sticks cinnamon
5 cardamom pods
2 green chillies
2,5mL turmeric
5mL roasted masala
30mL garam masala
5 whole cloves
A few strands saffron
1 tomato, grated
250mL buttermilk


Wash and drain meat in colander. Rub ginger, garlic and salt into meat.

Combine marinade ingredients and marinate meat for about 3 hours.

Boil lentils until tender (for about 20 minutes), rinse and drain.

Wash rice until water runs clear and drain. Heat 50mL oil in a large pan over medium heat, add rice and toss to coat well (with the oil).

Add 100mL hot water to rice and cook covered over medium heat for 5 minutes, remove from heat and set aside.

Heat the remaining oil in a large pan and fry the potatoes until golden brown. Remove the potatoes and set aside.

Add the meat, marinade and two-thirds of the onions to a saucepan and cook covered over medium heat for about 30 minutes. Remove meat and set aside.

In saucepan, lay ingredients as follows: potatoes, rice, meat, potatoes, rice, meat and finally the lentils and reserved onions on top. Dot with butter and sprinkle with 200mL hot water.

Cook covered over high heat for 5 minutes, then simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour over low heat.

Alternatively, you can layer the ingredients in a glass baking dish and bake in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for roughly an hour (or until the rice and meat is nice and tender).

About 3 hours preparation time (including marinade time)
About 2 hours cooking time
Serves 10 – 12

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