Biryani is said to have originated in Persia, and brought to India by the Mughals. ‘Birian’ is the Persian word for ‘fried before cooking’ and guess what? We’re going to break the rules with this recipe.
I’ve always felt that this dish was not something I wanted to make on a regular basis because the traditional recipe calls for deep-fried potatoes. I don’t like serving deep-fried food on a regular basis, but Biryani is one of my favorite dishes and so I set out to change the recipe to make it healthier, but preserve the flavor.
So in comes the air fryer. The air fryer cooks the potatoes to perfection and I’m serious when I say that I didn’t taste a difference between deep fried potatoes and the air fried kind.
What else did I cook in the air fryer? The beef. Or you can use lamb. But I prefer beef, and it was nice and juicy on the inside.
Another twist to this recipe is that I use medium grain brown rice. Yes, I said brown rice. Believe me, it’s tasty and so healthy. Brown rice does take longer to cook than white rice but it’s worth it. So let’s get into it.
To start, cut the potatoes into cubes.
Put the potato cubes into a bowl and cover with water. Let that sit there for 10 minutes. Soaked potatoes turn out great in the air fryer.
Now dice the beef. I bought diced beef which saved me time. Add one teaspoon of oil and one teaspoon of the Biryani spice mix to the beef and rub it in. You can also add a little salt if you prefer. I didn’t for this recipe and it still turned out great. Put to one side.
Now that the potatoes have soaked for 10 minutes, cook them in the air fryer. Lay down one layer and don’t overcrowd the pieces. Add a little salt and cook them for 20-25 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius / 392 degrees Fahrenheit.
Take the potatoes out of the air fryer and put the beef in. Again, don’t overcrowd the tray and keep it to one layer. Cook for 10 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius / 392 degrees Fahrenheit.
The beef turns out great. Set the beef and potatoes aside.
Now it’s time for the rice mixture. Slice an onion and sauté until browned very lightly. Add 1 tablespoon of Biryani spice mix and mix in with the onions. Add 2 cups of medium grain brown rice to the pot. To the rice, add 4 cups of water and 2 teaspoons of salt. Lastly, add 2 tablespoons of sultanas to the rice. Cook for about 40-45 minutes on the stove.
When the rice is ready, mix in the potatoes and beef and serve. Biryani normally contains chicken too. I left it out because I thought I would try to make it simpler and see how it tastes. It tasted delicious without the chicken, but including chicken would also taste great and add another dimension to the dish.
Biryani Spice Mix
To keep this recipe super simple, I buy a pre-mixed Biryani spice from my local Middle Eastern grocery store. If you’d like to make the spice mix from scratch, there are plenty of recipes available, and here’s an example.
I grew up with the flavor of this pre-made Biryani spice, so I prefer it. Plus I have two kids and hardly any spare time to make it from scratch. End of story.
Healthy Biryani Recipe
Biryani that's super healthy. Contains air fried potatoes and beef in a mixture of brown rice. Simple, yet delicious.
- 17 ounces Diced Beef
- 3 large Potatoes
- 2 tbsp Sultanas
- 2 cups Brown Rice
- 3 tsp Salt
- 4 tsp Biryani Spice Mix (Available at Indian or Middle Eastern Grocers)
- 4 tsp Olive Oil
- 1 small onion
Chop the potatoes into cubes, place in a bowl and cover with water for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, dice the beef if it doesn't come ready diced.
Place beef in bowl and add 1 tsp oil and 1 tsp Biryani spice mix. Massage into the pieces.
Place the potatoe pieces into the air fryer – one layer only. Sprinke with salt and cook for 20-25 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius / 392 degrees Fahrenheit.
Take out the potato and place the beef diced beef into the air fryer. Again, keep to one layer and down over-crowd. Cook for 10 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius / 392 degrees Fahrenheit.
While the beef is cooking, saute one small onion in 3 tsp of olive oil.
Once the onions are lightly browned, add 3 tsp of the Biryani spice and mix for 30 seconds to allow the spices to mix in with the onion.
Add 2 cups of brown rice and 4 cups of water, along with 2 tbsp of sultanas.
Cook on high heat until the water starts to boil. Once it reaches boiling point, reduce the heat and simmer until the rice is cooked through.
For the last 3 minutes while the rice simmers, add the beef and potatoes to the rice. Mix. Turn off heat and serve.