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 |


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
October 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

Roast and Co Daily: Two Hours of 2-For-1 Specials at ...

Plus: Half-price on all “To Share” plates – see what’s on the menu here

2 4 1 hqHQ: Not Such a Blue Monday After All

HQ’s #2FOR1Monday: Live acoustic music and two Salad, Steak and Chips set menus for the ...

OX boat rides 125% Off: See The Marine Big 5 on an ...

Whales, dolphins, penguins, cape fur seals and mola mola (sunfish), an awesome boat trip ...

calling us homeComing Soon: The Musical Calling Us ...

A love so strong that it tears the night sky apart

KewpieAn Inspiring Message of Diversity and ...

The vibrant diversity of District Six comes alive with an exhibition about a famously ...

Art@Africa Gallery 2Celebrate 100% Madiba At This Art ...

Commemorate the life of a South African icon through the power of creativity

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 ...

AroundAboutCars 3 Get R100 Off Your Next Hired Car From ...

Quote “CapeTownMagazine” when booking a car through AroundAboutCars and get R100 off

danielasSample Daniela's Exotic Macaroons For ...

Salted caramel, purple surprise, ginger sesame, cinnamon milk tart and 20 more Parisian ...

SA IdolsAll the Times Capetonians Entertained ...

Though auditions for 2018 are closed, Cape Town did us proud during SA Idols Season 14

Le Bonheur 12Get a 20% Discount on Accommodation at ...

Le Bonheur Reptiles and Adventures offers patrons a 20% discount when they stay at this ...

Ubuntu Climbs 365 3How Many Hikes Up Table Mountain Does ...

A hike a day gets the funds raised. This guy is hiking Table Mountain every single day of ...

Cartel House 8Get a Co-Work Desk Discount Plus Free ...

Book your hot desk at this ultra-luxe Cape Town co-working space provider this Monday and ...

Sgt pepper live musicRam Jam Rock Parties at Sgt Pepper

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

WeatherGiveawaysTravel Tips

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