You know how you make a traditional Indian lamb biryani? First you get ready to dirty about six different pots in your kitchen. Next you obsess over the exact doneness of the rice. What is “50 percent done” or “75 percent done” rice, as traditional recipes ask you to gauge? Then you worry about the lamb not cooking as fast as the rice. Finally, six hours later, when your kitchen looks like a hurricane hit it, you pick up the phone and order pizza. Or you can make this stupid-simple recipe for an authentic biryani instead. Yes, the lamb will cook in the short time, as long as you marinate it and cut it into bite-size pieces. You can substitute beef for the lamb as well, if you like.

This garam masala is the base of much of my Indian cooking. I’ve tried many different recipes, but this is Raghavan Iyer’s recipe (of 660 Curries fame), and he has been generous enough to allow me and all who cook from my recipes to use it. Everyone who has tried it will agree—store-bought garam masalas cannot hold a candle to this recipe. Trust my advice and take the ten minutes to make it. You’ll thank me.

Excerpted from INSTANT POT FAST & EASY © 2019 by Urvashi Pitre. Photography © 2019 by Ghazalle Badiozamani. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.


1 cup basmati rice
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup minced yellow onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1 serrano chile, seeded, if desired, and minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons garam masla, recipe follows
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 to 1 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 pound lamb shoulder or leg, trimmed and cut into bite-size cubes
1 cup water
For the garnish<\/em>
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds (from green/white pods)
2 dried bay leaves
3 dried red chiles, or
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes
1 (2-inch) piece Indian cinnamon (cassia bark), or ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon


Step 1
For the rice and lamb: Place the rice in a colander and rinse under cool running water; set aside to soften and absorb some of the water.

Step 2
In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, minced onion, cilantro, mint, chile, ginger, garlic, garam masala, salt, turmeric, cayenne, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. Whisk to combine. Add the lamb and toss to coat. Allow the mixture to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes while the rice rests.

Step 3
Meanwhile, prepare the garnish: Preheat the broiler to high. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.

Step 4
Break the onion slices apart with your fingers and arrange them on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and season with the salt. Toss to combine. Broil the onions for about 15 minutes, stirring only once or twice.

Step 5
In the Instant Pot, arrange the lamb mixture so it covers the bottom of the pot. Carefully spread the rice all over the meat in a uniform layer. Carefully pour the water over the rice, gently pushing down on the rice until it’s submerged in the water. (Do not mix the lamb and rice together.)

Step 6
Secure the lid on the pot. Close the pressure-release valve. Select MANUAL and set the pot at HIGH pressure for 6 minutes. At the end of the cooking time, allow the pot to sit undisturbed until the pressure has released. (This part is important, as it approximates the traditional steam cooking process.)

Step 7
Serve topped with the browned onion garnish and the cilantro.

Step 8
In a clean coffee grinder or spice grinder, combine all the ingredients. Grind, shaking the grinder gently as you go so all the seeds and bits get into the blades, until the mixture has the consistency of a moderately fine powder.\r\n

Step 9
Unplug the grinder and turn it upside down. (You want all the spice mixture to collect in the lid so you can easily scoop it out without cutting yourself playing about the blades.)\r\n

Step 10
Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to a month. Shake or stir before using.\r\n