When I think of Sindh, these iconic features immediately come to mind – the mesmerising Sufi Poetry of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai , the heartwarming Music from Alghoza and Yaktaro, the centuries old hand printed ajrak fabric and the sinfully delicious Sindhi Biryani.

Sindhi cuisine and culture show a strong influence of centuries of Muslim ruler in the region. The Abbasid Caliphs invited cooks from all over the Muslim world in the 10th century to contribute their regional delicacies to the Royal banquets. Sindhi cooks were known for there passion, hard work and fiery cooking. From the Arabs, Sindh was taken over by the Mughals who were equally fascinated by its vast stretches of desert land and the mighty river Sind. They left their permanent mark on the cooking techniques and ingredients used as well.

The lavish use of dried fruits and spices in dishes reflects Sindh’s proximity to Iran and Central Asia. The pulao and biryani and some of the most exotic dishes in Sindhi cuisine, the refined culinary techniques like ‘dum’ and layering, the use of aromatics are all influences of Mughals. Other prominent influences are from Balochistan and Punjab, the two neighbouring provinces.

Biryani is one of the most popular rice and meat preparations in the entire South Asia with subtle nuances depending on local tastes and available ingredients. How is Sindhi Biryani recipe different from other varieties? The most prominent difference is the addition of potatoes with generous use of onions – two staple ingredients of Sindhi pantry. Sindhi biryani recipe is spicier and more dominated by masala than it’s other counterparts. The aroma results from mint and whole spices, not from rose water or kewra. A day or two old, sour yogurt is added to enhance the sour element. Whereas sweet and sour prunes or dried plums are an essential component of the dish.

The cooked dish is a marvellous blend of flavours, layers of tender meat, tangy masala, curry seeped potatoes, melt in the mouth prunes and beautiful basmati rice fragrant with the aroma of mint and saffron. The delicious and exotic Sindhi biryani is a perfect manifestation of its culture.


1/2 kg chicken or mutton cut ups
4 cups, long grained basmati rice
1/2 cup ghee (clarified butter) or sunflower oil
4 medium potatoes, peeled,cut in half
2 large onions, sliced
2 tablespoons ginger garlic paste
3 medium sized tomatoes, diced
12 to 14 prunes (dry plums/aloo Bukhara)
Salt to taste
3 to 4 tsp teaspoons red chillie powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
6-7 cloves (laung)
Seeds from 8-10 green cardamoms (sabz alaychi)
3 black cardamoms (badi alaychi)
8-10 peppercorns (sabut kali mirch)
1 tablespoon cumin seeds (zeera)
2-3 cinnamon sticks (dar cheeni)
2-3 bay leaves or curry patta
1 cup sour yogurt
1/4 cup lemon juice
3-4 cup fresh mint leaves
6 to 8 green chilies, chopped
Saffron or Orange food colour (a pinch)

This Is What You Do:

Heat 1/4 cup oil in a deep pan. Add onions and fry till golden and crisp. Scoop out half of the onions and set aside for garnishing.

Add meat (chicken/mutton) to the fried onions in the pan. Add ginger garlic paste, 1 teaspoon salt, red chilli powder, turmeric, cloves, half of green cardamom seeds, 1 black cardamom, 1 stick cinnamon, cumin seeds, 1 bay leaf and yogurt. SautΓ© for 5 minutes on medium high heat.

Reduce heat, add tomatoes and 1 cup water for mutton, 1/2 cup for chicken. Cover the pan and let it cook till the meat is half done. Add prunes and potatoes, add a little more water if required. Keep cooking covered on low heat till the meat and potatoes are done. Add lemon juice and cook another 5 minutes or till the liquids are completely dried out.

Meanwhile, boil rice in salted boiling water with remaining green cardamom seeds, 2 black cardamoms , 2 bay leaves and 2 sticks of cinnamon. Cook the rice till they are 3/4 percent done since the rice will cook completely in the dum phase. Drain the rice and set aside.

For layering the biryani, always use a big pot with flat bottom and wide mouth for even heat distribution, proper layering and easy mixing.

In a big wide pot, add the remaining oil/desi ghee. Layer the pot with rice, topping with a layer of biryani meat, potatoes and masala, adding a second layer of rice and masala, end with a third layer of rice on top.

Garnish the pot with caramelised onions, half of mint, green chillies, saffron or yellow food colour. Wrap the lid of the pan in a clean cotton kitchen towel. Tightly shut the lid. Put the pot on medium high heat for 5 minutes then reduce the heat to lowest possible for another 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, leave to rest for another 10 minutes.

Mix with a flat stirring spoon or saucer to avoid breaking the rice. Serve hot garnished with more fresh mint leaves. Tastes great with simple cumin yogurt raita and fresh salad.

Serves 8

9 Replies to “Sindhi Biryani Recipe, Pakistani Cuisine”

  1. I have never tried Sindhi food . Its soo tempting recipe .and very interesting to read ur article on it too. I love Iranian food and if it has the proximity to it … then i would love it.😍

    1. I’m hoping you have tried the recipe by now and love it as much as I do. 😊 Yes, Sindhi food has Persian influence on it but it’s just one of the many factors that determine how this cuisine involved. You will find it a lot bolder and spicier.
      Really appreciate you stopping by and taking time to comment. Happy cooking! 😊

  2. As a biryani addict from India, today I had the opportunity to try Pakistani biryani for the first time in Kuala Lumpur. I always thought no dish could be as delicious as the biryanis from Hyderabad, Kashmir or Lucknow.

    But, I have been proved wrong.

    Turns out, the Pakistani biryani which I had today can beat even the most authentic Hyderabadi Biryani in terms of robustness of flavours, and spicy heat. I had tears in my eyes (of joy) while enjoying this heavenly dish. It was just perfect!

    I think more Indians should try out Pakistani biryani. We’ll start loving our neighbours a hell lot more.

    Maybe it’s a limited experience but this Pakistani biryani I had today would beat Indian biryanis anyday except the Hyderabadi Biryani one can find at Hotel Shadab near Char Minar which I still believe is the best in the world. But, I’ll definitely try more authentic Pakistani recipes in future.

    1. I’m delighted to know you enjoyed the Pakistani style biryani, Subodh! And I couldn’t agree more – food is the best way to connect people. 😊 Maybe next time when the situation is tense on the borders, we can try food diplomacy alongside cricket. 😁 We will send you biryani and you can send us some butter chicken. πŸ˜‰

      1. Oh come on! I’m sure you do way better Murg Makhani than many Indian restaurants πŸ™‚

        I’m very fussy when it comes to quality food. Butter chicken’s original recipe is with Moti Mahal restaurant in Daryaganj, Old Delhi. It’s still the best version because of the super rich flavours and thick gravy.

        A lot of restaurants tend to ruin butter chicken. Instead of thick gravy, you get a watery soup. The meat isn’t tender or chewy. One bite, and you want to spit into the dish. I’ve had so many butter chicken meals ruined because the chef deviated so much from the original taste.

        1. Haha! Thank you for your reassuring words, Subodh!πŸ˜„ I hope I’ll get to visit and enjoy food from the eateries you keep mentioning in India. Hopefully one day! 😊

  3. Ha ha ha… Don’t worry my dearest sister, I won’t start cooking anything now. It’s all from outside for ifathar and sheri we get delivered. Dukkah crusted chicken will be made InshaaAllah soon. Love u πŸ’πŸ’πŸ€—

  4. What a colour full biriyani…it’s just tempting !!! πŸ’•
    keep all diet foods aside and get in to the kitchen start cooking yours Sindhi Biryani Recipe πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰ InshaaAllah 😍.
    Have blessed day dearest Maria.

    1. Oh no, Nillu πŸ˜„ This is not for you right now. You must go back to the dukkah crusted chicken recipe, that is yummy and healthy for you. This biryani can wait till you are all well 😊 Or I’ll only start giving healthy recipes from now on πŸ˜„

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