How to Make Mutton Masala Breyani

Unwrapping Cape Town with you.
Also engage with our other channels
to find something you don't want to miss.

How to Make Mutton Masala Breyani

One kitchen-savvy Bo-Kaap local shares her take on this traditional South African dish

Last Updated: 16 May 2018

Biryani has a history as rich as the dish is flavourful, with some culinary historians fixing the aromatic stew’s first appearance in time as far back as 2 A.D., when Tamil cooks would conjure up the rice and meat combo to nourish military warriors before battle. 

Since then, the traditional recipe’s made its way from the barracks of Persia to the royal palaces of India and all the way down to Cape Town, South Africa, where it’s become the stuff of legend in Cape Malay households. 

“Everyone makes theirs a bit differently,” laughs Gamidah Jacobs, a local resident who leads Cape Malay cooking classes out of her charming Bo-Kaap neighbourhood kitchen. 

But lucky for us (and you), Gamidah’s not too perturbed about sharing her own biryani recipe, a method that’s been passed on to her by her mother, mother-in-law and sister-in-law, who have all refined it along the way.  And while she may have a sixth sense for how much of which spice to use, we certainly don’t; nor do we expect you to have such an awesome superpower.

So, what follows is an easy-to-follow breakdown of the beautifully piquant dish, which is best enjoyed with a group of ravenous friends and family! 

Serves 10 – 12 


  • 1kg mutton or lamb, cubed
  • 15mL grated ginger
  • 10mL garlic, finely chopped
  • 5mL salt or enough for taste
  • 100mL cooking oil
  • 300mL hot water
  • 6 –7 potatoes, peeled and cut in quarters
  • 625mL rice of your choice (recommended: basmati rice)
  • 250mL lentils
  • 3 onions, sliced
  • A few dollops of butter 


  • 3 sticks cinnamon
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 2  green chillies
  • 2,5mL turmeric
  • 5mL roasted masala
  • 30mL garam masala
  • 5 whole cloves
  • A few strands saffron
  • 1 tomato, grated
  • 250mL buttermilk 


Step One: Prepare your meat by washing it and draining it in a colander. Rub ginger, garlic and salt into the meat and set it aside.

Step Two: Combine marinade ingredients (just mix them all together in a bowl, adding them in no specific order) then marinate the meat for about three hours.  

Step Three: Combine the lentils and water in a saucepan and bring it to the boil until the lentils are tender (for about 20 minutes), then rinse and drain them.

Step Four: Rinse the dry rice with water and allow to drain.

Step Five: Heat 50ml oil in a large pan over medium heat, add rice and toss to coat well (with the oil). Add 100ml hot water to rice and cook covered over medium heat for five minutes, remove from heat and set aside.

Step Six: Heat the remaining oil in a large pan and fry the potatoes until golden brown. Remove the potatoes and set aside.

Step Seven: Add the meat, marinade and two-thirds of the onions to a saucepan and cook covered over medium heat for about 30 minutes. Remove meat and set aside.

Step Eight: In saucepan, lay ingredients as follows: potatoes, rice, meat, potatoes, rice, meat and finally the lentils and reserved onions on top.  Dot with butter and sprinkle with 200ml hot water.  Cook covered over high heat for five minutes, then simmer for 45 minutes to one hour over low heat. Alternatively, you can layer the ingredients in a glass baking dish and bake in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for roughly an hour (or until the rice and meat is nice and tender).

To serve:
Garnish with fresh coriander and serve with atjar or sambal.

All of the spices mentioned above and more are available at the long-standing Bo-Kaap store Atlas Trading Company.

*Photo compliments Alpha


Learn about the beautiful Ramadaan traditions you can join in on.
Break the fast with these traditional favourites and other treats.
Here's a round up of halaal restaurants around the city.

Thanks to Gamidah Jacobs for this biryani recipe. Click here to read more about her Cape Malay cooking classes. Contact info: Lekka Kombuis Cooking Classes | +27 (0)79 957 0226 / +27 (0)21 423 3849 | [email protected]


Use our events section for an up-to-date overview of happenings in Cape Town. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, join our Google+ circle, connect with us on LinkedIn and check out our Pinterest boards for updates.

Cape Town Events Calendar
May 2018
1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31

African Pride Arabella Hotel & Spa 7Which of These 5 Arabella Stay, Play ...

One luxury spa day and four remarkable getaway experience deals to reward yourself with, plus loads of exciting new experiences to have in the Hermanus area

Vredenheim 7Pay 25% Less For The Big Cats ...

Meet the sibling lions, the talkative duo of Bengal tigers and the feisty and fierce Stellenbosch refugee caracal called Ounooi

Cartel House CoffeeSave on Co-Work Desk on Wednesdays And ...

Secure your desk at this excellent co-working space provider in Cape Town on Wednesdays and get a discount and a free coffee

Beluga Images 22-for-1 Whisky Wednesdays at Beluga

Your midweek escape just got a whole lot better with the 2-for-1 Wednesday special at Beluga

Strolla ChickenHalf-Price Rotisserie Chicken (And Live ...

Here’s your chance to sip cocktails on the Corona Sunset Deck in shorts and slops (while the kids are occupied making their own pizza) on Sea Point’s Platinum Mile

Just Like Papa 2Just Like Papa: The Ultimate Place to ...

Finally, there’s a place in Cape Town where you can get exceptional home, camping, tactical and survival gifts for men and women – and it’s open till 7pm. Head for Just Like Papa on Harrington Street

Cape Town Helicopters WinelandsWinelands Wednesdays: Extra-Special ...

Celebrate with a VIP Stellenbosch and Winelands helicopter ride and lunch experience – from Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront Helipad at special rates this Wednesday

Roast and Co 22-for-1 Drink Specials at Roast & Co

Every day “on your way” at Roast & Co. – enjoy 2-for-1 drink specials and discover the coolest mugs

Cape Culinary Tours Valentine's Day InclusionTake a Bite into History with Cape Town ...

Learn about Cape Town’s past while savouring local cuisine with these informative walking tours

Sgt pepper live musicRam Jam Rock Parties at Sgt Pepper

The head-banging, guitar twanging rockin’ good times are back

Jou Ma Se Comedy Club JMSCC Pumphouse Cape TownJoin the Cape Town Comedy Club ...

The weekend starts on Thursday at Cape Town Comedy Club, the city’s best stand-up spot

Predator End of Year FunctionMake Memorable Moments at Cape Town’s ...

Throw a party unlike any other at the Mother City’s underwater wonderland

SwordferSwordfern Hair Emporium’s Bring A Bro ...

Bring your bro and get a haircut on the house from Swordfern

Sotano Lamb Burger SpecialBest Burger Special at Sotano every ...

Tuck into two lamb burgers and fries for the price of one every Wednesday

SUPing with High Five Cape TownStand Up Paddle Board Group Lesson ...

Learn to SUP for less thanks to High Five Kite, SUP and Surf School

cloud 9 rooftop bar table mountain 2Happy Hour Special at Cloud 9 Rooftop ...

Celebrate the midweek mark with discounted cocktails, 2-for-1 local craft beers and ciders and uninterrupted 360-degree views of the Mother City

WeatherGiveawaysTravel Tips

Curious to make exciting discoveries in Cape Town every day? "LIKE" us for a daily hidden gem.