Lamb or mutton biryani

Lamb or mutton biryani

South East Asian Food


Quantity Ingredient
5cm piece ginger
6 garlic cloves
salt, to taste
2 cups yoghurt
1.75kg lamb or mutton, cut into 3 cm cubes
1 tablespoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1/2 cup blanched almonds
1 cup ghee
4 onions, cut in half across and then finely sliced lengthwise


Quantity Ingredient
2 onions, cut in half across and then finely sliced lengthwise
3-4 splinters cinnamon bark
8 whole cloves
1 teaspoon salt
5 cups basmati rice, washed until clear and soaked for 1 hour
6 cardamom pods
5cm stick cinnamon
1 teaspoon black cumin seed
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup milk
pinch saffron
or 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 lime, juiced
6 green chillies, cut into two pieces
a handful mint and coriander leaves, roughly chopped

Extra garnishing ingredients (optional)

Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons raw cashew nuts
2 tablespoons sultanas
3 tablespoons ghee


  1. Mash or grind the ginger, garlic and salt to a fine paste. Mix with 2 tablespoons yoghurt to make a marinade. Mix this with the meat and marinate for 2 hours or more. In the meantime in a small dry pan roast the coriander and cumin seeds. Allow to cool and in a mortar or a food processor attachment grind to a powder. Keep aside. Grind the almonds finely and keep them aside.
  2. Heat the ghee in a pan and first fry the 2 sliced onions to be used as a garnish for the rice until brown and crisp. Remove, drain on kitchen paper and keep aside, leaving the ghee in the pan. Heat the ghee again and fry the remaining onions until golden. Lift out using a strainer or a slotted spoon and keep aside to be added to the meat later.
  3. Pour out all but 4 tablespoons of the remaining ghee. Reheat this. Stir-fry the almonds, coriander and cumin and the marinated meat until the meat is sealed and the spices smell fragrant. Add the rest of the yoghurt, mix everything well and cook uncovered until the meat is tender and the gravy fairly dry. Add a little water if the dish becomes too dry before the meat is tender. Leave aside – in fact the flavour will mature if left overnight in the refrigerator before you prepare the rice.
  4. Bring about three-quarters of a large saucepan of water to the boil. Tie the cinnamon bark and the cloves in a muslin bag and throw into the water with salt. Add the rice and parboil for about 8 minutes then drain well. Discard the muslin bag and leave the rice to cool.
  5. Lightly grease a deep ovenproof casserole with a lid (preferably a ceramic one). Spread half the rice in a layer on the bottom of the pot, spread the cooked meat on top of this, and the onions on top of the meat. Cover with the second half of the rice in a final layer.
  6. Heat an oven to 200°C. Grind the cardamoms, the cinnamon stick, the black cumin and the nutmeg to a powder. Warm the milk and stir in the saffron or turmeric, the ground spice powder and the lime juice. Pour this mixture over the rice in the casserole and scatter the chillies, fried onions, mint and coriander leaves over the top. Cover the pot with foil then put on the lid, making sure that it is tightly sealed. Put the casserole into the oven for 10–15 minutes. Remove, wrap in a blanket and leave for a further 30 minutes.
  7. As an alternative you may prefer to reserve the mint and coriander leaves to be strewn over the top just before serving, to which may be added some cashew nuts and some sultanas fried in ghee.
  8. Serve as a single-dish meal accompanied by an Onion and coconut salad and/or Tomato and onion salad, Cucumber raita, a sambol, some pickles and chutneys, some banana and coconut.
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