From Sunil Vijayakar’s The Big Book of Curries.
Celebrate Diwali with this delicious and fragrant Lamb Biryani. Serve with crisp poppadoms and creamy raita for a feast of flavours and textures.
Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus at least 4 hours marinating and 30 minutes resting
Cooking time: 1 hour 35 minutes
500g/1lb 2oz boned leg of lamb, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1 tsp peeled and finely grated root ginger
150ml/5fl oz/⅔ cup natural yogurt
20g/¾oz/⅓ cup finely chopped coriander leaves
4 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric
225g/8oz tinned chopped tomatoes
butter, for greasing
salt and freshly ground black pepper
poppadoms and raita, to serve
For the rice:
4 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 tsp cumin seeds
10 whole black peppercorns
4 green cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
225g/8oz/heaped 1 cup basmati rice
1 tsp saffron threads
3 tbsp warm milk
1. Put the lamb in a glass or ceramic dish. Mix together the garlic, ginger, yogurt and coriander leaves and rub this mixture into the lamb. Cover and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for 4–6 hours.
2. Heat the oil in a heavy pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and fry, stirring occasionally, for 12–15 minutes until lightly golden. Add the lamb and cook over a high heat, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes until well browned. Stir in the ground coriander, cumin, chilli powder, turmeric and tomatoes and season well with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes or until the lamb is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
3. Meanwhile, make the rice. Heat the oil in a heavy lidded pan over a medium heat. Add the onion, cumin seeds, cloves, peppercorns, cardamom and cinnamon and cook, stirring, for 6–8 minutes until lightly browned. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for a further 2 minutes until well coated. Add 400ml/14fl oz/scant 1⅔ cups water and bring to the boil. Cover tightly, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 6–7 minutes. Remove from the heat and keep covered. In a small bowl, mix together the saffron and warm milk and set aside to infuse.
4. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 and lightly butter a medium casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid. Spread a thin layer of the meat mixture over the bottom and cover evenly with half of the rice. Drizzle over half of the saffron mixture, then layer again. Cover the dish with foil, then with the lid, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to rest, covered, for 30 minutes before serving with poppadoms and raita.
The Big Book of Curries by Sunil Vijayakar
216 pages • Illustrated • £12.99