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  • Writer's pictureSushma Saksena

Mutton Yakhni Pulao

Mutton Yakhni Pulao (Gosht Pulao) is a traditional pulao recipe using long grain basmati rice, cooked aromatic spiced mutton stock, meat and saffron. The mutton pulao dish originating from the land of Nawabs, Lucknow or Awadh, is a signature dish popular across North India and even in countries like Pakistan, where it is cooked in a slightly different manner with different spices.

Pulao is not the same thing as biryani; while pulao is made by cooking the meat in with warm aromatic spices in water till the meat is tender, then adding the rice in the meat broth along with meat whereas for biryani, rice is boiled separately in spiced water and then layered with meat curry or marinade, which is then sealed and cooked over low heat.

Yakhni Pulao is a traditional dish of the Kayasthas which is prepared on special occasions and grand dinners. However, each Kayastha family clan makes slight variations in the recipe for this pulao.

PREP TIME: 10 minutes


SOAKING TIME: 30 minutes

TOTAL TIME: 1 hour 40 minutes

COURSE: Main course

SERVES: 4 persons


For Yakhni stock:

  1. Mutton - 500 gm

  2. Onions sliced - 1 big

  3. Ginger – 1 inch chopped in large pieces

  4. Garlic- 8 to 9 cloves

  5. Coriander seeds – 1 ½ tsp

  6. Cumin seeds – 1 tsp

  7. Fennel seeds - 1 ½ tsp

  8. Cloves – 8 to 9

  9. Cinnamon stick – 1 to 2

  10. Green cardamom – 3 to 4

  11. Salt - to taste

  12. Water – 3 t0 4 cups

For yakhni waghar: (this is a very important step)

  1. Onion – 1 small finely chopped

  2. Garlic – 3 to 4 cloves finely chopped

  3. Ginger – ½ cm finely chopped

  4. Zeera – ½ tsp

  5. Black pepper – 4 to 5

  6. Cloves - 4 to 5

  7. Green cardamom – 2 to 3

  8. Cinnamon stick - 1 small piece.

For yakhni pulao:

  1. Basmati Rice – 450 gm (1 ½ cup)

  2. Ghee or oil – 75gm

  3. Onion – 2 large, finely sliced

  4. Bay leaves – 2

  5. Garlic paste – 1 table spoon

  6. Curd – ½ cup around 120 gm

  7. Garam masala powder – 1 tsp

  8. Few drops of kewda (optional)


1. Soak 450 gm of long grain basmati for at least ½ an hour.

2. Soak a pinch of a saffron in 1/4th cup of lukewarm milk.


How to make yakhni:

1. First, take a clean muslin cloth, add all the dry ingredients from the yakhni list i.e. cloves, cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, and green cardamom. Tie the cloth with a string to secure all the whole spices into it to form a potli.

2. Now, take a pressure cooker. Put cleaned and washed mutton pieces in the pressure cooker along with the prepared potli. Add sliced onion, ginger, garlic.

3. Add 4 cups of water. Add some salt.

4. Close the lid of the pressure cooker and put it on a flame. Bring it to a boil.

5. Cook it until it is done. Do not overcook it. (Note: I use very tender mutton and cook the mutton till I get two whistles. You will have to guess when the mutton is half done but not overcooked.)

6. Open the lid when the pressure cooker cools down.

7. Gently, separate the mutton pieces from the stock.

8. Squeeze the potli very well in the stock to extract all the flavours of spices. Discard the potli.

9. Strain the Yakhni through a strainer.

How to prepare special flavour tadka for yakhni:

You have to use 2 pans for this. Prepare tadka of each ingredient separately.

1. First heat one pan. Put ½ tsp ghee and heat it. Add cumin seeds. Add yakhni when cumin seeds start crackling.

2. Take another pan. Put ½ tsp ghee and heat it. Add cloves. Add yakhni from the first pan when the cloves start crackling.

3. Now take first pan again. Repeat the same thing with the other whole garam masalas.

4. Again, take the first pan. Heat ghee in the pan. Add chopped onion. Fry onions till they turn golden brown. Add yakhni.

5. Similarly, prepare tadka with chopped ginger and garlic also.

6. Keep this yakhni aside for further use.

How to make yakhni pulao:

1. Heat ghee in a heavy bottom pan or a kadhai. Once the ghee is hot, add sliced onions and fry until the onions start turning golden.

2. Now add the ginger-garlic paste and fry it for a few minutes.

3. Add boiled mutton and gently sauté it on high heat for 2-3 minutes.

4. Add garam masala powder.

5. Add salt and whisked yoghurt and mix. Cook for a minute.

6. Now, drain water from the rice. Add rice to the mutton and mix gently.

7. Then add, the yakhni (mutton stock), 3 ½ cups (just double the amount of the un-soaked rice). If the Yakhni is less in amount then add some water along with yakhni but it should be 3 ½ cups in total. Add kewra essence/ water and mixed it. and bring it to boil.

8. Cover the pan with a lid. Once the biryani comes to boil slow down the flame, and put a tava under the pan.

9. Allow to cook on a slow flame.

10. When 90% water dries up, pour the saffron soaked milk over the rice. Cover the pot again. Dum for 15 minutes.

11. Your yakhni biryani is ready to serve. You can garnish with golden fried onions. And serve with onion raita or salad.


  1. When you boil mutton for biryani, never boil mutton fully. Always keep it half done. Otherwise, when you cook with rice, mutton will leave the bones.

  2. Usually you never find this tadka recipe of yakhni because it is my mother’s secret. You will notice the distinct flavour of each masala, if you prepare yakhni tadka in this way.

  3. Try to make biryani in ghee instead of oil. Ghee gives a nice flavour to biryani.

  4. Use only long grain basmati rice.

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