Bengali Mutton Pilau Rice


Fellow Blogger Recipe Feature or FBRF is a new short feature coming to the blog. Each time I try one of my fellow blogger’s recent recipes I will post a photo here with a link to the recipe.

First up is Abida’s Bengali Mutton Pilau Rice ~ Authentic Bengali aromatic mutton masala transformed into a spicy yet sweet (from peas) pilau rice, perfect for EID-al-adha and a way better alternative than take-out / takeaway.

I made a few changes to the recipe like using brown basmati rice and olive oil instead of ghee (only because I was out of ghee and butter for that matter) but in essence it’s the same tasty dish. Try it, I’m sure you will like it just as much as I do.

Bengali Mutton Pilau Rice

As it is Eid al Adha in a few days time, I thought I would post a traditional Bangladeshi recipe that is served in many homes on this day. Cooked in ghee, this simple mutton pilau dish is buttery and decadent. This mild dish with no heat is flavoured with aromatic spices including cumin, cinnamon, and whole black peppercorns.  As it is Eid al Adha in a few days time, I thought I would post a traditional Bangladeshi recipe that is served in many homes on this day. Cooked in ghee, this simple mutton pilau dish is buttery and decadent. This mild dish with no heat is flavoured with aromatic spices including cumin, cinnamon, and whole black peppercorns.

Growing up, the main dish served on Eid was usually either a Mutton Akhni Pilau/Pilaf Rice such as this, or my Mum’s Chicken Korma. You knew it was Eid when there was a massive pot of curry and rice in the kitchen to feed the whole family and all the guests! Mutton pilau is also often served for special occasions or when you or holding a dinner party of some sort.

Traditionally, these pilau dishes are made with just the meat and rice, but I decided to add some peas for colour and a bit of sweetness. Plus, it’s always good to get those veggies in. I think carrots or some small cubes of potato could also be a good addition.  I topped the pilau with some hard boiled eggs, which is a traditional Bangladeshi accompaniment. After boiling and peeling the eggs, you can also fry the eggs lightly in some oil and add a pinch of turmeric which helps give little more colour to the eggs and the dish. If you’re not a fan of eggs, you can of course leave it out (who’s not a fan of eggs though??).

Whilst a lot, if not most, Indian or Pakistani biryani recipes I have come across use vegetable oil to cook the rice, Bengalis traditionally favour ghee which lends a rich, buttery taste. I rather think that there are fewer smells in life more delicious than that of ghee as it cooks!

This mutton pilau, like my chicken pilau is a 2 part process. First you prepare the mutton curry or masala (this can be done the night before if you are hosting a dinner party) and then combine the meat and rice together in the pilau. Of course, if you are a lazy smart cook, you could just prepare it all in one big pot. Simply cook the mutton curry in one big pot, then add your rice and boiling water. If it’s your first time making this pilau, then it may be best to stick to the 2 part process.

Unlike my chicken pilau, this mutton pilau uses ground spices such as cumin and turmeric, which gives the dish its vibrant yellow colour. This is in addition to whole spices which are used to bring aromatic fragrance.

The mutton curry is cooked with the standard whole spices, cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaf. The only ground spices used are turmeric for colour and ground cumin to bring out the flavour the meat. As with all pilaus, there is no chilli powder in this, so great news if you love Indian food but don’t like the heat! To the rice, we add a few more whole spices such as whole black pepper corns and whole cumin seeds. If you can’t find cumin seeds in your local supermarket, then you can get them online for pretty cheap, such as on Amazon.
As I have stated before a few times on my mutton and potato curry post and mutton and yellow split peas recipe, we cook with mutton in our family rather than lamb, like a lot of Bangladeshis in the UK. In Bangladesh, it is more likely to be cooked with goat meat however. Mutton has more fat than lamb and as such, we find it lends itself better to slow cooking and the stewing process. If you’re not a fan of mutton however, you can just use lamb instead.

Bengali Mutton Pilau Rice

Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 1 hr 45 min
Total Time: 2 hr 15 min
For mutton curry masala
  1. 4 tbs oil
  2. 1.5kg mutton, cut into curry pieces
  3. 1 large onion, chopped into chunks
  4. 2 inch piece of ginger, grated/minced
  5. 4 cloves garlic, grated/minced
  6. 3 bay leaves
  7. 1 cinnamon stick/ cassia bark, snapped
  8. 4 green cardamoms
  9. 5 cloves
  10. 1 tsp turmeric
  11. 2 tsps ground cumin
  12. 1 tsp salt
For pilau
  1. 1 medium onion, finely sliced
  2. 4 tbs ghee/oil
  3. 2 bay leaves
  4. 1 cinnamon stick/cassia bark snapped
  5. 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  6. 1 tsp whole zeera
  7. 3 mugs rice, washed and soaked for 20 mins
  8. 5 mugs of boiling water
  9. 3 cups frozen peas
  10. 4 to 5 whole green chillies
  11. 1 tsp salt plus more to season
For mutton curry masala
  1. 1) In a pot, add oil and allow to heat up. Add in garlic, stir and let it turn lightly golden. Then add in onions and ginger, salt, meat and all of the spices. Stir to coat the. Meat in the spices and then cover and leave to cook on a medium heat for 45 mins to 1 hour or until the meat is tender to your liking. Before removing the meat curry from the heat, season to taste.
For the pilau
  1. 2) In a large pot, add the ghee and allow to heat up. Add in sliced onions, salt and whole spices. Stir the onions and allow to cook on a medium heat until the onions have browned, for about 10 minutes.
  2. 3) Drain the rice, and add to pot. Stir once to coat the rice in the ghee and allow the rice to toast slightly for about 2 minutes. Then pour in the meat curry and stir with the rice until it is well combined.
  3. 4) Pour in the boiling water and the peas. Cover and let the rice cook on a high heat for about 10 minutes, or until all of the water has been absorbed. Once the water has been absorbed, lower the heat and allow rice to steam for 20-30 minutes, until the grains are cooked through.
  4. 5) Once the rice is cooked, uncover and season to taste. Use a large flat spoon or spatula to gently mix the rice from top to bottom. Serve with salad and boiled eggs.
  1. The rice to water ratio is roughly 1:1.5
  2. I used a regular coffee mug to measure the water and rice.
Bengali Mutton Pilau Rice
Article Name
Bengali Mutton Pilau Rice

Leave a Comment