Hyderabadi Dum Biryani - feature photo

This recipe for Hyderabadi Dum Biryani comes to us from our friend Gopi Kishore Byluppala, the CEO and Founder of The Culinary Lounge. Gopi works with famed Hyderabad food historian and consultant Nawab Mahboob Alam Khan. And, this is the story of Nawab Mahboob’s family recipe. We are so happy to share it with you. What a privilege.

The Nawab’s Recipe

Nawab Mahboob says that the muslims that came to Hyderabad from Central Asia brought the knowledge of cooking meat and rice with them. They came to India many centuries ago. Hyderabad’s recipe for biryani is that ancient. And, despite the popularity of chicken biryani, the mainstay ingredient is to make Hyderabadi Dum Biryani with mutton (lamb or goat).

When the city was ruled by Muslim Nawab’s (muslim nobility) the cooks for their armies used to make biryani in the early morning. They’d attach the cooking vessels to the sides of horses. Then, when the contingent arrived at their destination after a long day of marching, a feast would be ready for them. 

Many modern recipes cook the meat and the rice separately and then combine them. Nawab Mahboob, says that to call a dish a Hyderabad Dum Biryani, both the meat and the rice must start raw and be cooked together. His secret to obtaining full flavour and tenderness is to marinate the meat for 35 to 40 minutes with a mixture of mashed papaya, curd (yogurt) and a lively spice masala. All Hyderabad Biryanis are also known as dum biryanis.

What makes a Dum Biryani?

The term “dum” translates to “breathe.” In the making of a Hyderabadi Dum Biryani, dum refers to the build up of steam and air pressure during the early stage of cooking.

It works like this: meat, rice and the other ingredients are placed in a heavy bottom cooking vessel. The vessel is placed over a charcoal fire. The flat lip of the cooking vessel is then covered with a strand of wheat and water dough. Finally, the lid is pressed into the dough and weighted. This reinforces the seal.

As heat is applied, the internal temperature increases and the airspace in the vessel fills with pressure and steam. This is much like a pressure cooker. And, when it builds enough, the steam will make a forced escape (a breath) through the dough.

When the cook sees this, they know it’s time to decrease the amount of fire under the vessel. Then, they simply cook the dish another 35 – 40 minutes. When the lid is removed at this point, the rice and meat will be fully cooked. 

Nawab Mahboob cautions that cooking it less will result in undercooked ingredients. Cooking it longer will result in dried out rice. As an octogenarian whose enjoyed cooking his family’s recipe for a lifetime, we completely trust his judgement. We are very proud to share his famous recipe with you.

Enjoy your Hyderabadi Dum Biryani with classic sides like Mirchi ka Salan, Onion Raita and Mint Chutney.

Hyderabadi Dum Biryani Recipe

8 to 10


750 grams aged basmati rice
½ cup peanut oil
1 cup peeled, halved and sliced red onion or shallots
1.5 kilograms leg of lamb or stewing meat, washed and chopped into bite size cubes
1 cup pureed fresh papaya
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ teaspoons garlic paste
1½ teaspoons ginger paste
1½ teaspoons green chilli paste
1 teaspoon chopped fresh coriander leaves
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Indian chilli powder
½ cup fried onion
1 teaspoon whole cloves
3-4 1-inch pieces of cinnamon bark
6-8 whole green cardamom pods
1 cup plain yogurt
¼ cup lime juice
¼-½ cup ghee
6 – 8 green cardamom pods
1 cup whole milk
20 saffron threads
2 cups whole wheat flour
Water to make a dough


  1. Wash the basmati rice in several rinses of cold water and then leave it to soak for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Heat the peanut oil in a shallow fry pan over medium heat and spread the sliced onions over the pan and cook them until they are light brown and crispy. Remove them to a paper towel to drain. Reserve the oil they were cooked in.
  3. Place the lamb in a heavy bottomed cooking vessel and work in the papaya with your hands so that it is evenly distributed.
  4. Add the salt, garlic, ginger and chilli pastes and work through again.
  5. Add the fresh coriander leaves, turmeric, cumin, and chilli powder and work through again.
  6. Crumble the fried onion and distribute it evenly along with the whole cloves, and cinnamon pieces.
  7. Add the yogurt, lime juice, oil and ghee and work them through the meat with your hands, then flatten all the ingredients evenly in the pan and leave it to marinate for 35 to 40 minutes.
  8. Drain the rice through a sieve at the point and add it on top of the meat with the green cardamom pods.
  9. Bring the milk and saffron strands to a simmer in a saucepan on low heat and then pour it evenly over the rice.
  10. Mix the wheat flour with enough water for it to come together, knead it a bit and roll it to form a long strand. Place the strand along the lip of your cooking vessel and place a lid on it. Weight it with a brick or heavy object.
  11. Place the pot over a charcoal fire or open gas flame and cook on medium to high heat until steam escapes through the dough seal.
  12. Lower the heat then and simmer for 35 to 40 more minutes.
  13. Remove the heat and serve the biryani with Kachumber and Raita.

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