Chef Vijay’s Spice-sational Biryani Recipe


by Vijay Sadhu

Being from Hyderabad, there are several spices that are very near and dear to me not just because they’re aromatic and flavorful, but because they remind me so much of the cuisine that shaped my early culinary development. 

Spices are important because of their unique flavor profiles and the essential role they play in the dishes they are incorporated in. Specific entrees simply would not be what they are without these necessary flavors.

My favorite spice is the cumin seed because it is essential to most Indian dishes. I cannot imagine trying to go a day in my kitchen without this spice! Another favorite of mine is the cardamom seed— because of its versatility, this spice can be used in desserts and garam masala, as well as being included in many of my favorite spice blends that I like to specially create.

Cloves are yet another great spice utilized primarily in meat-based dishes like gosht korma and Hyderabadi dum biryani. Coriander seed also makes the list. Not only is it ubiquitous in most Indian cuisines, but it’s so uniquely aromatic and flavorful and I use it as a base in my custom spice blends, as well.

Finally, I don’t think I could complete a list of favorite spices without mentioning saffron, with its intense honey and floral notes that are a necessary complement to dishes like biryani and korma.

Which brings me to a personal recipe of mine that incorporates several of the aforementioned spices. This particular biryani recipe is one that I have brought from back home and still use to this day.

Spice powder/ Biryani Masala:

  • 1/4 tsp caraway seeds
  • 2 small sticks cinnamon
  • 4 green cardamom
  • 6 cloves
  • 10 black peppercorn
  • Mace and nutmeg to taste

To marinate the meat:

  • 1-pound goat or lamb meat, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup thick yogurt
  • 2 tsp. ginger/garlic paste
  • 3-4 chopped green chilies
  • 1/2 tbsp. ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp red chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tbsp. coriander powder
  • 1/2 tbsp. cumin powder
  • 1 tsp. all garam masala
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped and fried
  • 1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped mint
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. ghee

Rice preparation:

  • 1/2-pound Basmati rice
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 cardamoms
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • Nutmeg and mace to taste
  • 2 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • 1 tsp. caraway seeds
  • Water as required

Additional Ingredients:

  • Golden onion in a large amount
  • 1 tsp. saffron soaked in 1/2 cup hot milk
  • Ghee as needed


Marinate the meat first.

In a large bowl, add all the marinating ingredients. Put yogurt, ginger garlic paste, red chili powder, turmeric powder, garam masala powder, saffron, lemon, fried onions, green chilies, coriander (finely chopped), mint (finely chopped), salt to taste and oil/ ghee. Mix well.

Now cover and keep it in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours.

Rice Preparation:

In a large pan, bring surplus water to boil. Take a piece of soft cotton cloth. Put 2 cloves, 2 cardamoms, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 bay leaves, 4 black peppercorns in and make a bundle of this.

Now, drop this in the water and it is going to release flavor as much as it can.  (Another reason is I don’t like the bite of whole spices.)

Also add oil, caraway seed and salt to taste. Let it come to boil.

In the meantime, prepare Saffron Milk. Slightly roast and crush the saffron strands and put them in lukewarm milk.  It gives the biryani distinct flavor and orangey- yellow streaks. Keep it aside.

Soaking the rice is also very important because it helps the rice expand to maximum length. So soak it in the water for 30 minutes. Choose long grain basmati rice.

Cook the rice in two parts. When it is just cooked for 1-2 minutes, take out half of the rice. It will go on the first layer of the meat. Continue cooking until you the rice boils. Now drain the water and save the drained water because you will need this later on.

Layering the rice and meat:

Once rice is cooked, the marinated meat will be done. Now, it’s time for assembling.

Put the goat meat on the base of a pan in which you are going to make the biryani. Add drained water (reserved starch water from cooked rice) because the meat needs some moisture to cook which it gets from this water and thus overall biryani remains nice and moist.

Put the half of rice on the top of the marinated goat. Spread fried onion, saffron milk, ghee and garam masala powder on the rice.

Now add the rest of the rice on it and spread rest of the fried onion, saffron milk, coriander leaves, mint leaves and ghee.

After layering the rice and meat, it is also important to leave around 1/4th of the vessel free for the steam to collect and aid in cooking.

Now you can either seal the edges with roti dough or use a piece of aluminum foil and seal the top.

Cook it for 5 mins on high flame, then 15 minutes on medium flame and 30 mins on simmer.

After 45 mins, it’s a good idea to let it rest for 15 mins. Be careful when you are opening the lid because the steam can be dangerous.

Last step: enjoy!

vijay sadhuChef Vijay Sadhu has more than 20 year’s culinary experience at an array of awardwinning restaurants around the world, Sadhu was born and raised in Hyderabad, Indiaand went on to study hospitality and business management at the NationalBusiness Management College in Sydney, Australia. Sadhu currently serves as executive chef of Cook Hall, theModern American Gastropub located in the W Dallas  VictoryHotel. At Cook Hall, Sadhu’s personal influences shine throughis menu of globallyinspired, artfully spiced modern American dishes with a Southern twist.

By Brown Girl Magazine

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5 Indo Caribbean Food Experts you Need to Know This Winter Season

trinidad curry
Curried Chicken with Roti Parata or Roti, popular Middle Eastern/Indian cuisine

It is officially that time of year—the holiday season. There’s nothing like Christmas and New Year’s in the West Indies. Between the pepperpot in Guyana and the palm trees decorated in lights in Trinidad, the home food, warm weather and laid-back ambiance makes us wish we could escape the cold and head back to the Caribbean. Most of us, however, cannot “take holiday” and find ourselves hungry for fresh dhal puri and doubles. But, thanks to these Indo-Caribbean food bloggers, we can bring the motherland to our kitchens.

1. Matthew’s Guyanese Cooking

From Diwali mithai specialties to curry chicken, Matthew is creating a name for himself as a young Guyanese food blogger. He makes a great effort to incorporate Hindu holidays and traditions on his Instagram account, in conjunction with the customary foods and sweets associated with these religious events. However, his expertise does not end there, with new and alternative recipes for classic dishes such as curry chicken and bhara, Matthew takes center stage sharing both traditional Guyanese dishes as well as specific religious dishes made for festivals. His most popular YouTube video, with 1.4 million views, features his grandmother and focuses on the best tips to make the softest Guyanese paratha roti. In addition, his YouTube account is home to many videos offering guidance to Indo Caribbean cooking. Find recipes at

2. Trini Cooking with Natasha

Natasha Laggan of Trini Cooking with Natasha is wildly popular throughout the Caribbean and the U.S. With humble beginnings, Natasha credits her love of food to her family’s business. She speaks of the nostalgia home food provides her as she reminisces memories of her grandmother’s cooking and helping her mother make sandwiches early in the morning. Featured by Forbes, Natasha grew her Facebook following quickly throughout the pandemic by posting old YouTube videos. Today, she has more than 1 million followers on Facebook and over 200K followers on YouTube. She uses her passion for cooking and Trinidadian culture to bring easy-to-follow recipes to viewers. Her following has now reached the West Indian diaspora globally as she has also become a brand ambassador to two well-known food companies.  Follow the food expert @trinicookingwithnatasha.

[Read Related: 5 Indo-Caribbean Recipes for the Holiday Season you Have to Make]

3. Cooking with Ria

With over 100K followers on YouTube, Ria is quite the expert when it comes to making roti. Her dhal puri, sada roti and paratha roti tutorials have over 1M views! However, her expertise does not stop there. Of the 180 YouTube tutorials, her recipes vary from curry to other Trinidadian favorites like macaroni pie and pigtail soup. Just scrolling through her YouTube page makes your mouth water. From doubles to classic Trinidad bakes like pound cake and sweet bread, she provides precision and anecdotal commentary while guiding you through the familiarity of home food. Check out Ria’s page at @cookingwithria.


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4. Chef Devan

Known as Chef Devan, Devan Rajkumar embraces his Guyanese Canadian heritage by creating recipes combining flavors of both the East and West Indies. His love of food has allowed him to expand his role to judge in a popular Canadian cooking show: Food Network Canada’s Fire Masters. His cooking often blends the flavors of multiple cultures but also creates the classic recipes of his motherland. With a multitude of interests, Chef Dev uses his social media platform to connect with followers by sharing various aspects of his life that go beyond cooking. His most recent YouTube video provides a trailer for an upcoming video “Tastes Guyana” which shows him exploring Guyana from the inside, specifically deep parts of the inner country. To learn more about Chef Devan follow @chefdevan.


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5. Taste of Trinbago

Reshmi is the chef behind the growing blog, Taste of Trinbago. A Trinidadian native who now resides in Texas, she uses her love of food and Trinidadian culture to share hacks, tips and easy recipes with West Indians throughout the globe. She finds a way to simplify traditional West Indian meals, that we once watched our elders make with curiosity.  From holiday specialties like black cake to Diwali delicacies, Reshmi has brought vegetarian and non-veg recipes to followers in an extremely accessible way. She even posts recipe cards on her IG highlights for followers who may need written instructions. Her IG profile is a mix of various West Indian foods while also sharing bits of her life and even her secrets to baby food. Follow her @tasteoftrinbago.


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These are just five Indo Caribbean food bloggers sharing their secrets to easy cooking. The once very daunting recipes and food instructions our parents gave have been simplified by most of these bloggers through video, voice over and modernized recipes. We no longer have to estimate a “dash, pinch or tuk” of any masala. We are just days away from Christmas and this is the perfect time to find the best-suited recipe to make that paratha for Santa.

Featured Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

By Subrina Singh

Subrina Singh holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Asian & Asian American Studies from Stony Brook University and a Master’s Degree … Read more ›