History of Yakhni Pulao

Yakhni is a yoghurt saffron based mutton broth, which is made using meat and aromatics. Yakhni is an integral part of the Kashmiri cuisine in India, which has arrived through Pakistani and Afghani cultures and spices. Considered as a gateway for the Mughal invaders to reach India, Afghanistan is the origin of Yakhni Pulao. 

Apparently, Yakhni Pulao has made its way in India through the Mughal invaders, which was used as a substitute for Biryani.

An interesting story which traces the origins of Yakhni Pulao is that when an anonymous Afghan king once visited the army barracks and found the army personnel under-nourished, he ordered the chef to prepare a vegetarian substitute for biryani which provided balanced nutrition in the right proportion, and thus the Yakhni Pulao was created.

It is generally believed that the popular dish originated in the Middle East. Here is the recipe ……..


  • 1/2kg Goat meat
  • 2tbsp Oil (plus for frying onions)
  • 1/2tsp Cumin seed
  • 2inch Ginger (grated)
  • 1whole Bulb Garlic
  • 4-5Clove
  • 1inch Cinnamon
  • 6-8Black pepper
  • 3-4Black cardamom
  • 2-3Bay leaves
  • 5-6Onion (thinly sliced)
  • 1pinch Saffron
  • 3tbsp Milk
  • 3cups Rice
  • 2tbsp Ghee
  • 4tbsp Yogurt
  • 1tsp Garam masala
  • 4-5drops Kewda essence



  • Wash and soak the rice in enough water for 30 minutes.
  • Make a bouquet gurney with cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, black cardamom and bay leaves.( tie the ingredients in a small piece of white cotton cloth )
  • Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pressure cooker.
  • When the oil is hot, add cumin seeds.
  • Add the meat, ginger, whole garlic bulb, salt, 4 cups water and the bouquet gurney in the pressure cooker.
  • Pressure cook till meat is nicely done ( approx 1 whistle on high heat and then simmer the heat and cook for 10 minutes )
  • Open the cooker once the pressure is released.
  • Check the meat for doneness and cook for some more time if required.
  • Let the mixture cool for some time.
  • Squeeze the Bouquet gurney and garlic bulb to extract the maximum flavours.
  • Pass the meat through a strainer and reserve the yakhani (stock).
  • Keep aside.
  • Fry the thinly sliced onions until golden brown.
  • Soak the saffron in milk and keep aside.
  • In a large, thick bottomed pan, heat ghee.
  • Add the meat pieces, yogurt, garam masala and little more than half of the fried onion
  • Fry for 4-5 minutes
  • Strain the rice and add it to the pan.
  • Measure the yakhani and add water to it to make 6 cups.
  • Add it to the pan.
  • Add the kewda essence and salt and cover the pan with the lid tightly.
  • Seal the edges with some dough (optional).
  • Simmer the heat to low and cook the rice till it is nicely done.
  • Add saffron soaked in milk over the rice and cover and keep for 10 minutes.
  • Fluff the Yakhni Pulao with a fork gently.
  • Garnish with golden fried onions.
  • Serve hot with raita.

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