Lamb Biryani - Recipe for one person

Having recently tried the Middle Eastern Pizza for one, I still had quite a lot of lamb mince leftover, so I have been looking for things to cook with - a good option is lamb biryani.

It's an easy,  interesting, one pot dish - a little bit spicy - a little bit comfort food.

Traditional lamb biryani recipes are quite complex and take time to both marinate and simmer.  Recipes I would love to cook, but not really practical for a weeknight.  Also most traditional recipes use diced lamb - which doesn't really solve the problem of my leftover lamb mince.

After looking at various recipes to try and work out what to adapt for one personI ended up opting for mixing a couple of different recipes to create a 'biryani' style flavour by cooking the mince in the traditional flavours of ginger, garlic, tumeric, cumin etc.

I've listed some of the recipes I really liked as you might like them if you want to cook the more complicated Biryiani, or a couple that may seem simpler as instead of spices they used curry paste from a jar. (I was reluctant to buy a whole jar of curry paste for one meal)

This meal takes a bit of time, but 15 minutes of that time is simmering, so you are able to go of and do other things while this occurs.

I would also recommend a non stick fry pan. I didn't have one to hand, but it would definitely be advantageous in this instance.

I managed to eat the entire meal, but it did make quite a large amount. See the note about quantities below as you may want to make a smaller amount. The picture below shows how much was left in the pan after I dished up the amount above.




Recipe Notes

  • Don't be put off by the number of ingredients - this recipe looks more complicated than it is
  • I made this in a stainless steel fry pan so had to add extra oil. I would recommend cooking it in a non-stick fry pan and halving the amount of oil as the lamb mince itself is quite fatty, I think it's good to cut back the oil where possible.  Because it was stainless steel I added another teaspoon when I was cooking the spices.
  • Quantity of mince: I used 120 grams of mince, as this is a recommended serving size. However it did make a big meal. Making this again I would probably cut it back to 80 or 100 grams of mince and add the extra vegetables suggested below)
  • Quantity of vegetables If you want to boost your vegetable intake, I would add 1/2 a cup each of french beans, asparagus, spinach and peas. I would make sure they are chopped finely so they steam quickly)
  • Quantity of pinenutsI used 1 tablespoon in this recipe, but I love pinenuts and think and extra tablespoon would be good.
  • Quinoa vs rice vs cauliflower riceBiryani is traditionally made with white rice - which I think makes a fabulous meal. However, for my meal tonight I chose quinoa as I think it is a better nutritional choice.  However if you prefer rice, for 1/4 of rice add 1 cup of water. If you want to use cauliflower rice, either add it and mix through at the same time you add the broccoli or simply prepare it and serve with lamb mixture on top.
  • Chicken stock I'm on a bit of a budget drive, so I chose to use a stock cube, but a better quality stock would obviously be better
  • Chilli Want a spicier version - add chilli flakes when you add the spices
  • Frypan lid - you will need to use a fry pan or saucepan that has a close fitting lid for this recipe
  • Nuts I chose to use pinenuts, but flaked almonds could be used if you prefer
  • An even simpler approach would be to simply use the spices you have to fry the mince in and cook the rice separately and simply combine the two

  • This is the recipe that uses curry paste. Looks delicious and simple and could be easily modified for one. (Leave a comment if you would like me to try adapting this for one person)



1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, or half a regular onion

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger

1 teaspoon tumeric

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon garam masala

120 grams lamb mince

1/4 cup washed and drained quinoa

1/2 chicken stock cube, soaked in 3/4 cup hot water

1 cinnamon stick

1 tablespoon sultanas

1 heaped cup of finely chopped broccoli

1- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

1/4 to 1/2 a cup of chopped coriander or parsley (optional. I didn't use it when I made it for this post as I didn't have any, but it does add to how it looks and and extra dimension to the flavour)


  • Put stockcube in 3/4 cup of hot water to dissolve
  • Toast pinenuts
  • Wash and drain the quinoa
  • Heat oil in fry pan and saute onion, garlic and ginger on medium heat until onion is translucent
  • Add spices, mix through with onion mixture and cook on a low heat for a further 3 or so minutes
  • Turn the heat back to medium and add the lamb mince to the pan. Use a fork or spatula to break up and mix thoroughly with the onion / spice mixture and cook until browned through
  • Add quinoa, stock, cinnamon stick and sultanas and mix through
  • Put the lid on, bring to the boil (takes about 1 - 2 minutes), then turn down heat and gently simmer for 12 minutes
  • At the 12 minute mark, add the broccoli (and any other vegetables you are using), then put the lid back on and continue to simmer for another 3- 4 minutes.*
  • Once the 15 minute mark is reached the Biryian is ready - however ideally, for soft and fluffy quinoa, leave the lid on and let the quinoa sit for a further 10 minutes. (Not the end of the world if you don't, but it is nicer. If you don't choose to do this step and want the vegetables to be less crunchy, then put them in at the 10 minute mark, instead of the 12 minute mark.
  • Before serving remove the cinnamon stick and stir through the pinenuts and coriander.

*At this this stage, stir around to make sure the biryiani isn't sticking to the bottom of the pan and that there is enough moisture for a few more minutes cooking.