Pakistani Biryani Rice
Pakistani Biryani Rice
Featured Spices
The Recipe


2 cups basmati rice
3 ½ cups water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 onions, thinly sliced
10 dates, pitted and chopped (you can substitute 4 tablespoons golden raisins, cranberries, dried plums, or other fruit)
fresh mint leaves (optional garnish)
fresh coriander leaves (optional garnish)

Biryani Masala Spices:
4 green cardamom pods
2 black cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick, halved
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
4 cloves
1 bay leaf (try tej patta Indian bay leaf)
1 star anise
1 teaspoon red chili powder (try ground Thai chili)
1 strand mace
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
½ teaspoon black pepper
pinch saffron threads


We have two quite different recipes for biryani rice dishes in our South Asian cuisine section. Pakistani biryani rice is a very aromatic, flavorful Pakistani side dish that normally accompanies roasted meats like chicken or lamb. Made with a rich biryani masala spice mixture and dried fruits, this is a very similar recipe to the rice that nomadic Balochi goat herders and shepherds stuff their roasted lamb with. It’s the perfect sidekick to our Chicken Sajji recipe, and so easy to make!

Try our chicken biryani rice dish also so you can compare the slightly creamy Indian version—think caramelized onions, spiced tomato puree and baked layers—with this Pakistani version, and share your opinion with us. Do you have a favorite biryani?

Getting started

Measure the rice into a medium bowl. Cover with cold water and gently agitate the rice with your fingers. Pour the water off and add fresh water to cover the rice. Continue rinsing the rice until the water is no longer cloudy. Add fresh water once more and allow the rice to soak for 25 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Separate out 1/2 cup of the water and warm in the microwave or a small saucepan. Use your fingers to crush the pinch of saffron threads over the warmed water. Mix in and allow to sit for a few minutes.

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high. Add the following ingredients:
black cardamom
green cardamom
bay leaf
star anise
chili powder
strand of mace
black pepper
dates (or other dried fruit)

Stir fry the spices until they are roasted and aromatic (about 2 minutes). Add the onions and sauté, coating them fully in the spices, until they become transparent and lightly browned. Stir in the garlic and continue sautéing just until the garlic turns fragrant.

Add the drained rice and cook for about 1 minute, or until the rice is lightly toasted. Pour in the measured water (including the saffron water) and salt. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Cover the saucepan and allow the rice to simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the rice from heat.

Let the saucepan stand for 10 minutes, covered. Then lift the lid and fish out the leaf, cinnamon pieces and any seeds you find. Fluff with a fork and serve warm.

Optionally, garnish with fresh mint and/or coriander leaves.

The Ratings

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