Aloo Biryani is a delicious vegetarian biryani variety made with basmati rice, potatoes, spices, yogurt, onions and herbs. This Aloo Dum Biryani as the name says is cooked in dum style and is a layered biryani. If you are a vegetarian and looking forward to try a meat-free biryani, this Potato Biryani is a great one. Serve it with Cucumber Raita or Mirchi ka Salan or with Shorba.
You won’t come across an Aloo Biryani often on restaurant menus. It is usually the Vegetable Biryani or a Chicken Biriyani that makes its appearance.
This Hyderabadi dum aloo biryani is made much the same way as a Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani. But Chicken is replaced with aloo.
Potato being an almost bland root vegetable, qualifies as a great meat substitute as it absorbs all of the biryani flavors just like meat.
To make this aloo biryani we first marinate sautéed potatoes in a spiced yogurt marinade, which is later cooked with plenty of aromatic whole spices.
Meanwhile basmati rice is soaked and cooked to al dente which is layered over the aloo biryani gravy. It is then topped with saffron infused milk, ghee, mint leaves and brown onions.
Together we cover and dum cook on a low heat until the flavors are infused to the basmati rice. A dum biryani acquires its characteristic flavors from the dum style of cooking where we trap the steam and cook the dish in its own steam and moisture.
Traditionally a biryani is cooked in a clay pot but we cook it in a regular pot.
How to Make Aloo Biryani (Stepwise Photos)
1. Rinse 400 grams of potatoes and peel them. As you peel add them to a bowl of water so they don’t discolor. Dice them to 1 inch pieces. Saute potatoes in 3 tbsp ghee on a medium to low flame until almost cooked and tender. The potatoes must be almost cooked, else they remain uncooked in the aloo biryani. Remove them to a bowl, retaining most of the ghee in the pan. Keep the aloo aside.
Soak 8 strands of saffron in 2 tablespoons of hot milk and keep aside.
2. In the same pan, fry 1 cup sliced onions (from one medium onion). On a medium heat fry the onions stirring continuously until they turn golden to light brown in color. Do not burn them as they turn bitter. Remove them to a plate.
3. Add ¾ cup curd, ½ tbsp red chili powder, ¾ tbsp ginger garlic paste, 1/3 teaspoon salt and ½ to ¾ tbsp biryani masala to a mixing bowl. Mix and check if there is enough salt and spice. Then add fried potatoes and half of the fried onions. Mix well. Set aside at least for 30 mins to one hour.
4. Wash and soak 1 ½ cups rice for at least 30 mins. Drain them. Bring 4 cups of water to a rolling boil, add in the spices (for rice – 1 bay leaf, 2 inch cinnamon, 3 cardamoms, ¼ tsp shahi jeera), 1 tsp oil, ¾ teaspoon salt and soaked basmati rice.
5. Cook on a high heat till the rice is 90% cooked, meaning the rice is cooked yet al dente. Dain away excess water to a colander.
Make Aloo Biryani Gravy
6. Heat the 1 to 2 tablespoons Ghee or oil in a non-stick pan. You may use the same ghee you used for frying onions. Add 1 to 2 slit green chilies, 1 bay leaf, 2 cardamoms, 4 cloves, 2 inch cinnamon, 1 star anise and ½ tsp shahi jeera.
7. When the spices begin to sizzle, add the marinated mixture along with the potatoes and cook till the potatoes are fully soft cooked.
8. If needed can sprinkle water little by little to cook the potatoes. Do not cook the potatoes till mushy. Check if the potato is cooked fully by piercing a sharp tipped knife or a fork. Thick gravy should be left at the end of this step. Simmer the flame.
9. Top the potato gravy with 2 tablespoons coriander and 2 tablespoons mint leaves. Spread a layer of rice evenly.
10. Sprinkle the remaining fried onions, 1 tablespoon each coriander leaves and mint leaves. Pour the saffron milk evenly all over.
11. Close the lid of the pan or clay pot, making sure the lid is airtight, so that the steam doesn’t escape. Place this pan/ pot on a hot flat tawa. I used an old dosa tawa. Cook for 10 to 12 mins on a very low flame. This helps in preventing the biryani from getting burnt beneath.
12. Once the flame is off. Set the pot aside without opening the lid for 15 mins and then serve.
Serve aloo dum biryani with raita. While serving make sure you serve the dish from top to the bottom, so each serving gets some biryani gravy from bottom and biryani rice from top. This is hot your aloo biryani looks.
The picture I have shared below and in the beginning of the post is made with baby potatoes (another time). I love this particular recipe with large diced potatoes because they absorb the flavors better.
- Use aged basmati rice or keema rice or jeeraga samba rice to make biryani. Other kinds of rice are not suitable to make biryani.
- Always use a heavy bottom pot to make dum biryani otherwise there is a risk of the biryani getting burnt at the bottom.
- Do not skip frying or parboiling the potatoes before adding to the marinade. This step ensures that potatoes are cooked through completely. Cooking potatoes with an acidic ingredient like yogurt often prevents them from soft cooking. They also take very long time.
- Biryani is always prepared with ghee which enhances the aroma of the dish. However you may use oil if you do not prefer ghee.
Aloo Biryani (Dum Potato Biryani)
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 1 cup onions thinly sliced or ½ cup store bought fried onions
- 2 green chilies slit
- 3 tablespoons coriander leaves chopped
- 3 tablespoons mint leaves chopped
- 8 strands saffron ,soaked in 2 tbsps milk
- 3 tablespoons oil or ghee
Whole Spices for gravy
- 1 bay leaf (tej patta)
- 2 green cardamoms (elaichi)
- 2 inch cinnamon (dalchini)
- 4 cloves (laung)
- ½ teaspoon shahi jeera (black cumin, substitute cumin)
- 1 star anise (biryani flower)
To Cook Rice
- 1 teaspoon oil optional
- 1½ cups basmathi or any long grain fragrant rice
- 1 bay leaf (tej patta)
- 2 inch cinnamon (dalchini)
- 3 green cardamom (elaichi)
- ¼ teaspoon shahi jeera (black cumin, substitute cumin seeds)
- ¾ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- Add 3 tbsps of ghee or oil in a pan and fry potatoes till they are almost cooked. It takes around 10 mins. Set these aside and fry the onions until golden like fried onions. Set these aside as well. You can also par boil the potatoes and use, if they are from cold storage, otherwise they will be uncooked in the biryani.
- Pour 3/4 cup curd to a mixing bowl. Add red chili powder, turmeric, ginger garlic paste, half of the fried onions, salt and biryani masala. Mix this very well and check the spice and salt. If needed add more.
- Next add the cooked or fried potatoes to the marination ingredients. Marinate for at least 30 mins or until the rice gets cooked. Keep this aside.
- Wash and soak rice for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Add bay leaf, shahi jeera, cardamoms, cinnamon, salt and oil to 4 cups of boiling water. When the water begins to boil rapidly, add the drained rice. Cook until it is done al dente or 90% cooked, not mushy. Drain off the rice to colander and set aside.
How to Make Aloo Biryani
- Pour ghee to the biryani pot or pan. You may use the same ghee you used for frying onions. Add green chilies, bay leaf, cardamoms, cinnamon, cloves, shahi jeera and star anise.
- When the spices begin to splutter, add the marinated potatoes along with the yogurt, cook till the oil begins to separate and potatoes are tender, just cooked and not mushy. At the end a thick gravy should be remaining. Lower the flame.
- On another burner, heat a tawa for dum process.
- Sprinkle coriander and mint leaves to the cooked mixture. Layer rice evenly, then the remaining fried onions, again the coriander and mint leaves, pour the saffron milk evenly all over.
- Seal the rim with an airtight lid or foil, for the steam to be trapped inside.
- Transfer the potato biryani pot to the hot tawa. Cook for 10 to 12 mins on a medium to low flame. Switch off the stove. Leave the pan covered for another 10 to 20 minutes for the flavors to enhance.
- Serve aloo dum biryani with a raita.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
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I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me
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