Rabbit Biryani

Rabbit Biryani
Biryani is a beautiful and rich rice dish that can be found in India and Pakistan (other similar versions can be found in neighbouring countries, as well as in the South Asian diaspora) that usually includes some sort of protein and whole spices.
Most agree that it originated in the 1500’s-1600’s in what was the Mughal empire, and developed from a combination of Indian dishes and Persian pilaf.
There are many types of biryani, but one of the most popular styles (and the style I chose to make) is Hyderabadi biryani, named after the city Hyderabad in central India where it came from.
Hyderabadi biryani is typically made with chopped bone-in goat or mutton meat with lots of ghee, saffron, fried onions, and whole spices. The ingredients are typically added together raw in layers and cooked as one. Some other versions of biryani tend to cook elements of the dish separately and add them together at the end.
Although I made my version in the Hyderabadi style, I chose to make it with rabbit; not an unheard of ingredient, but definitely not common. It SHOULD be more common though, as rabbit goes extremely well with biryani!
  • Prep Time2 hr
  • Cook Time1 hr 15 min
  • Total Time3 hr 15 min
  • Ready in24 Hrs
  • Yield6 servings


For the Marinade

  • 1 rabbit
  • 1 thumb ginger, peeled and finely minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 jalapeño or green chili, minced
  • 1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons (8g) garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon (4g) Kashmiri chili powder (or other chili flakes)
  • 2 teaspoons (2g) turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon (2g) kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon (1g) black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon (0.5g) ground cloves
  • 2 cups (500ml) plain yogurt

For the Biryani

  • 1 3/4 cups (285g) high quality basmati rice
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 black cardamom pods (optional)
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 6 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) melted ghee or butter
  • 1 cup loosely packed cilantro, chopped + more for garnish



Cut the rabbit into somewhere around 20 pieces. Use a heavy knife to cut through the bone. 

If you have any organs like the heart, liver, or kidneys, you can cut them up and include them as well. 

Broken down rabbit


Mix all of the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Toss in the rabbit pieces. 

Cover and transfer to fridge and let marinate for at least 4 hours, or better off, over night. 


Rinse the rice several times (until the water begins to turn clear), then cover with water and let soak for around 2 hours. 


Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C, gas mark 4).


Add the oil to a Dutch oven over medium high heat and fry the onions until very crispy and verging on dark, 15-20 minutes. 

Transfer to paper towel to drain and dispose of the oil (or save for another use). 


Meanwhile, add bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and peppercorns to a pot with the rice and cover with several inches of water. 

Bring to a strong simmer and cook until the rice is 70% done, about 5 minutes or so. 

Drain the rice well. 

Heat 1/4 cup (60ml) of water up and pour it over the saffron threads in a small bowl. Let steep. 


Lay the marinated rabbit pieces into the Dutch oven (no need to wash it after the onions) in a single layer if possible.

Drizzle any extra marinade over the rabbit. 

Cover the rabbit pieces with 1/4 of the fried onions. 

Cover that with 1/2 of the cooked rice, 1/2 of the fried onions, and half of the chopped cilantro. 

Add the rest of the rice. Top with the rest of the fried onions and cilantro. 

Drizzle with the saffron water and the ghee or butter. 



Cover the pot tightly with a lid and put into the oven for 45 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and let stand for another 20 minutes without taking off the lid. 

Now uncover the rice. 

Pot of Rabbit Biryani

If for some reason there is still liquid in the bottom, set the pot over medium heat until it evaporates. Usually this isn’t a problem. 


Mix the layers together with a strong spoon. 

To serve, spoon the biryani onto plates with several pieces of rabbit, and garnish with a sprinkling of cilantro. Eat on its own, or with Indian breads (like naan or paratha) and raita. Enjoy! 

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