Kolkata Aloo Biryani – Instapot Recipe

Kolkata style Aloo Biryani is an lightly spiced rice dish made with aromatic basmati rice, sallow fried baby potatoes and mild masalas making it a fulfilling meal. The Kolkata Biryani is a sub variant of the Lucknawi-style biryani. Yes, Kolkata Biryani isn’t a native of the city, but a modified version of a Lucknawi variant. Here is a good read .


The flavor focus is on the meat or the vegetables of the dish hence the spices are very light in this Biryani, Kolkata Biryani light, low on essence and color, and mildly spiced – unlike Hydrabadi Biryani, using just the right amount of spices to attain the flavor an

There are many theories as to why potatoes were added to the dish. One states that potatoes were substituted for meat, as it makes a filling dish, when meat was not affordable or available. There is also a counter theory that potato was an exotic vegetable at the time so was added to the dish. Whatever be the reason this Potato makes for a very flavorful and fulfilling Biryani.


Just a though of it brings so many memories. This very popular dish was very alien to me for good number of my early growing years.  I really got to enjoy this only recently and have come to like it a lot.

I have made this the regular way couple of times and wanted to try in the Instapot for a while. This weekend was the perfect chance and I had guest coming and also my cleaner was scheduled to come for a house clean that morning. I had to prep Lunch for about 10 people before I was kicked out if the kitchen.


So I started prepping early in the day ( 8 is pretty early on a Saturday….. No?).. I Started with prepping my Potatoes and the masala for gravy. First I cleaned my baby potatoes, and shallow fried them. then I ground onion, coriander /mint and chilies with some ginger and garlic for the masala paste. I had my left over biryani masala from my last time, that save some some time.

Prepped the gravy in Instapot and layered it with par cooked basmati rice and Slow cook for about 30 mins and the pressure cooked 5 mins. Wola My biryani was tucked away in my Instapot ready to impress my guests and leaving way for my house cleaning.

Here is the detailed recipe…..

Instapot Aloo Biryani

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Difficulty: Med- difficult
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Main Ingredients:

3 cups baby potatoes
1/2 medium size onions
1 cup thick yogurt
1 tbs Shahi jeera
1 bay leaf
3 cardamom
5-6 cloves
1 tbs biryani masala
1 tbs garam masala
1/2 tbs cumin powder
1/2 turmeric powder
salt to taste
Chilli powder – to taste ( usually on the milder side)
Kewda water ( this adds that unique flavor)

For cooking rice:

2 cup basmati rice
2 tbs oil
2 green chilies
1 small cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves crushed
few cloves

Onion Barista:

1/2 onion thinly sliced.
In a pan heat some oil and deep fry the thinly sliced onions to golden brown to make your own onion barista or you can also use store bought fried onions.

For Gravy masala:

1 small onion
1 cup coriander and mint leaves washed
1 inch ginger
3 cloves garlic
1 green chili

Soak a pinch or 2 of Kesar or saffron in warm milk and set aside.


Prep the Masala Gravy:

  1. The same oil from the onions shallow fry the potatoes with some salt.
  2. I like the skin so I fired it with the sink, but if you prefer without theskin the scrape the skin off before frying the potatoes.
  3. Once its fried 3/4 set it aside.
  4. Now grind all the ingredients from Gravy masala above to a smooth paste.
  5. Beat the thick curd and add it to the ground paste.
  6. Add in the Garam masala, Biryani masala, cumin powder and turmeric powder to the masala.

For prepping the rice:

  1. Soak basmati rice in cold water for 30 mins or so.
  2. Turn on instapot to manual mode and fill it with 56 cups of water.
  3. Let the water come to a boil. now add little shah jeera, Green chilies and the other whole spices.
  4. When the mixture comes to a boil add in the soaked rice with little salt.
  5. Let the rice cook in the boiling water. keep an eye. once the rice starts dancing and few kernels start floating on top of the water.
  6. Now turn off the Instapot and drain the rice and rinse it with cold water to stop it from cooking.
  7. Set it aside.

For Biryani Preparation.

  1. Turn on the Instapot to Saute mode and let the pot heat. once it turns to hot add in the oil ( or ghee if you are not vegan).
  2. Add the shahi jeera and the other whole masalas to the oil. once the spices start releasing the aroma add in the left over onion slices.
  3. Let it cook in the oil for 3 mins. now add in the Ground paste to the mix and let it cook thoroughly. add water as needed.
  4. Once the oil starts to leave the sides add in the cooked potatoes and some salt to let it simmer in the gravy. Again add water as needed.
  5. Add a pinch or two of the onion barista at this stage. give a good flavor.
  6. Once the potato has soaked in the gravy remove half of the masala and set it aside. Turn off the Instapot.
  7. Now add in half of the cooked rice to the masala and later it with the onion barista, few sprinkles of kewda water and the sprinkle of kesar milk.
  8. Optionally add mint leaves.
  9. Do the 2nd layer the same way.
  10. Now turn on the Instapot to slow-cook mode for about 30 mins
  11. Once that is done set the pot on manual mode and for 5 minutes. Cook the Rice in the gravy on high pressure 5 min.
  12. Turn the pot off and release the pressure once the time is up and quickly open and give the Biryani a light handed mix a and close it back again.
  13. Aloo Biryani is ready to be served with your choice of side. I served mine with tomato raita.

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