Kofta Biryani
Kofta Biryani
5 from 1 vote
Kofta Biryani, a delectable dish combining spiced lamb meatballs with fragrant basmati rice, offers a delightful blend of flavours and aromas. This dish, rooted in rich culinary traditions, presents a harmonious mix of spices and textures.

Kofta Biryani, a dish that weaves the rich tapestry of culinary traditions with a modern twist, is not just a meal but a celebration of flavours. Originating from the kitchens of the Indian subcontinent, this recipe brings together two beloved elements: succulent koftas (meatballs) and aromatic basmati rice. 

The journey of Kofta Biryani through history is as rich as its flavours. Rooted in the Mughal era, where lavish feasts were a norm, this dish has evolved, absorbing regional influences and variations.  

From the royal kitchens to the humble abodes, Kofta Biryani has found its place in every heart and on every plate, adapting to the nuances of local tastes and ingredients

Preparing Kofta Biryani is an art that requires patience and a love for flavours. The recipe involves meticulously cooking spiced lamb meatballs and layering them with fragrantly cooked basmati rice. Each ingredient in this dish plays a pivotal role, blending to create a symphony of tastes and textures.  

The minced lamb, when mixed with a medley of spices like garam masala, cumin, and coriander, transforms into mouth-watering koftas.  

These meatballs, browned to perfection, are then gently laid on a bed of basmati rice, which has been cooked with whole spices, lending it a delightful aroma and distinct flavour. 

What makes Kofta Biryani stand out is its versatility. Across different regions, you will find variations that speak volumes of the local food culture.  

Some prefer a more spicy version, adding a generous amount of chilli, while others might add a hint of sweetness with raisins and nuts. This adaptability is what keeps the essence of Kofta Biryani alive, allowing it to be reinvented and relished in numerous ways. 

As you embark on the journey of making Kofta Biryani, you’ll realise that it’s not just about following a recipe, but about experiencing the joy of cooking something that has been passed down through generations.  

It’s about understanding how each spice adds depth and character to the dish and how the slow cooking process brings out the best in each ingredient. 

In this recipe, the koftas are made from minced lamb, chosen for its rich flavour and texture, which when combined with the spices, creates a taste that is hard to resist. The basmati rice, known for its long, slender grains and exquisite fragrance, becomes the perfect canvas for the koftas.  

As you layer the koftas and rice, a dash of saffron-infused milk is added, introducing a beautiful colour and a subtle aroma that is distinct to Kofta Biryani. 

Finally, garnished with fresh coriander leaves, Kofta Biryani is not just a feast for the taste buds but also for the eyes. Every bite of this dish tells a story – of traditions, of cultures, and of the love for good food.  

Whether you’re cooking for a special occasion or just treating yourself, Kofta Biryani is sure to transport you to a world of rich flavours and enticing aromas. So, let’s start this culinary adventure and bring a piece of history to our plates. 

Expert Tip: For a more flavourful biryani, marinate the koftas for at least an hour before cooking. This allows the spices to penetrate the meat, enhancing the taste. 

What Ingredients to Use & Why

Minced Lamb: Minced lamb is the hero of Kofta Biryani, providing a rich, robust flavour that is essential to the dish. Its texture perfectly absorbs the spices, creating juicy, flavour-packed koftas. For a leaner option, minced chicken or beef can also be used, though they will slightly alter the taste. 

Onion: Finely chopped onion adds a sweet, caramelised flavour to the koftas, enhancing their taste. It also helps in binding the kofta mixture. If onions aren’t to your liking, try shallots for a milder taste. 

Ginger Paste: Ginger paste brings a fresh, zingy element to the dish. It cuts through the richness of the lamb and adds a subtle heat. If fresh ginger paste is unavailable, ground ginger can be a convenient substitute, though it may slightly change the flavour profile. 

Garlic Paste: Garlic paste contributes a pungent, earthy depth to both the koftas and the rice. Its aroma is unmistakable and integral to the dish. In its absence, a small amount of garlic powder can be used. 

Garam Masala: This blend of ground spices is quintessential in adding warmth and complexity to the dish. Each spice in garam masala plays its part in creating a well-rounded flavour. No direct substitute exists, but a mix of ground cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg can mimic its taste to some extent. 

Cumin Powder: Cumin adds a smoky, earthy flavour to the koftas, complementing the lamb’s richness. It’s hard to replace, but in a pinch, ground coriander can be used, though the taste will differ. 

Coriander Powder: Offering a citrusy, nutty flavour, coriander powder balances the heavier spices in the recipe. If unavailable, ground cilantro seeds can serve as a substitute, providing a similar flavour profile. 

Turmeric Powder: Turmeric imparts a warm, bitter taste and a golden hue. It’s also known for its health benefits. If you don’t have turmeric, a mixture of mustard and ginger powder can be a temporary fix, though the colour won’t be the same. 

Red Chilli Powder: This adds a spicy kick to the dish. Depending on your heat tolerance, you can adjust the amount or substitute it with paprika for a milder flavour. 

Salt: Salt is crucial for enhancing all the other flavours in the dish. It’s best to adjust it according to your taste preference. 

Basmati Rice: The long, slender grains of basmati rice are ideal for biryani, as they absorb flavours well and remain distinct when cooked. Jasmine rice can be a substitute, though it has a slightly different texture and aroma. 

Vegetable Oil: It’s used for cooking the koftas and sautéing the rice. Any neutral-flavoured oil like canola or sunflower oil can be used in its place. 

Whole Spices: These spices infuse the rice with a fragrant aroma and a complex flavour profile. If you’re missing one, don’t worry; the others will still impart a lovely scent and taste to the dish. 

Saffron: Saffron adds a luxurious aroma and a beautiful colour to the biryani. While there’s no real substitute for its unique flavour, a pinch of turmeric can mimic its colouring effect. 

Fresh Coriander Leaves: These add a burst of freshness and colour as a garnish. If coriander isn’t your favourite, try using fresh parsley or mint for a different flavour accent. 

Each ingredient in Kofta Biryani plays a vital role in creating a dish that’s not just food, but an experience. With these ingredients, you’re not just cooking a meal; you’re crafting a story that’s rich in flavour and steeped in culinary tradition. 

Expert Tip: To ensure the rice doesn’t turn mushy, always soak basmati rice for 30 minutes before cooking. This step helps the grains to expand and cook evenly, resulting in perfectly fluffy rice. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Make Kofta Biryani with Chicken or Beef Instead of Lamb? 

Yes, you can. Chicken or beef are great alternatives for lamb in Kofta Biryani. The cooking process remains the same, though the flavour profile will slightly change. Chicken will give a lighter, more subtle flavour, while beef will offer a richer taste. 

How Can I Make My Kofta Biryani Less Spicy? 

To reduce the spiciness, you can cut down on or entirely omit the red chilli powder. You might also consider using paprika as a milder alternative, which will give colour without adding too much heat. 

Can I Prepare Koftas in Advance? 

Absolutely! You can prepare the koftas ahead of time and refrigerate them. They can be stored in the fridge for up to a day before you need to cook them. This can be a great time-saver if you’re planning to serve the biryani for a special occasion. 

What is the Best Way to Serve Kofta Biryani? 

Kofta Biryani is best served hot, garnished with fresh coriander leaves. You can pair it with a side of raita (yoghurt sauce), sliced cucumbers, or a simple salad to balance the richness of the dish. 

How Long Can I Store Leftover Kofta Biryani? 

Leftover Kofta Biryani can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Ensure it’s stored in an airtight container. When reheating, you might need to add a little water to prevent the rice from drying out. 

Is It Necessary to Use Saffron in the Recipe? 

While saffron adds a unique aroma and colour to the biryani, if you don’t have it on hand, it’s not absolutely necessary. The dish will still be delicious without it. You can use a pinch of turmeric to achieve a similar colour. 

Can I Use Regular Rice Instead of Basmati? 

Basmati rice is preferred for its long grains and distinct aroma, which are ideal for biryani. However, if you don’t have basmati rice, you can use other long-grain rice varieties like jasmine rice. The texture and flavour will be slightly different but still enjoyable. 

Expert Tip: When layering the biryani, use a low flame for the final cooking step. This slow-cooking process, known as ‘dum’, allows the flavours from the koftas to infuse the rice, creating a harmonious blend. 

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Kofta Biryani

by Nabeela Kauser
Kofta Biryani, a delectable dish combining spiced lamb meatballs with fragrant basmati rice, offers a delightful blend of flavours and aromas. This dish, rooted in rich culinary traditions, presents a harmonious mix of spices and textures.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Indian, Pakistani
Servings 4
Calories 630 kcal


  • 500 g Minced Meat Lamb
  • 1 Onion Finely chopped
  • 2 tsp Ginger Paste
  • 2 tsp Garlic Paste
  • 2 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1 tsp Cumin Powder
  • 1 tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Chilli powder
  • Salt To taste
  • 200 g Rice
  • 2 tbsp Oil
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 3 Cardamom Pods
  • 3 Cloves
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • Saffron Soaked in 2 tbsp warm milk
  • Coriander For garnish


  • In a mixing bowl, combine the minced lamb, chopped onion, ginger paste, garlic paste, garam masala, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, and a pinch of salt. Mix well and form small meatballs (koftas) from this mixture. Set aside.
  • Wash the basmati rice thoroughly and soak it in water for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • Heat vegetable oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Add the cinnamon stick, green cardamom pods, cloves, and bay leaf. Saut√© for a minute until fragrant.
  • Add the koftas to the pan and cook until they are browned on all sides. Remove the koftas and set them aside.
  • In the same pan, add the soaked and drained rice. Stir-fry the rice for a few minutes until it’s well-coated with the spices and oil.
  • Pour in 1 litre of water and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the rice is almost cooked, about 10 minutes.
  • Place the koftas on top of the partially cooked rice. Drizzle the saffron-infused milk over the rice and cover the pan. Cook on low heat for another 10-15 minutes or until the rice is fully cooked and the koftas are tender.
  • Remove from heat, garnish with fresh coriander leaves, and serve hot.


Nutritional facts:
The provision of nutritional information is done so merely as a courtesy and should not be taken as a guarantee.


Calories: 630kcalCarbohydrates: 46gProtein: 25gFat: 37gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0.03gCholesterol: 91mgSodium: 85mgPotassium: 434mgFibre: 3gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 86IUVitamin C: 3mgVitamin D: 0.1µgCalcium: 70mgIron: 3mg
Keyword Biryani, Cooking, Eid, Food, Kofta, Lamb, Meat, Meatballs, Minced Meat, Ramadan, Rice
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Cook with Nabeela

Hi, I'm Nabeela!

I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family-friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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