This lamb biryani is a real centrepiece dish, but it’s actually easy as anything to make. Serve garnished with pomegranate seeds to make it look really special.
5 tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions, finely sliced
200g/7oz Greek or natural yoghurt
4 tbsp finely grated ginger
3 tbsp finely grated garlic
1–2 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
5 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cardamom seeds
4 tsp sea salt
1 lime, juice only
30g/1oz coriander leaves and stalks, finely chopped
30g/1oz mint leaves, finely chopped
3–4 green chillies, finely chopped
800g/1lb 12oz boneless lamb tenderloin or leg, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 tbsp double cream
1½ tbsp full-fat milk
1 tsp saffron strands (a large pinch)
400g/14oz basmati rice
2 tbsp pomegranate seeds, to garnish (optional)
Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and stir-fry for 15–18 minutes, or until lightly browned and crispy.
Put half the onions in a non-metallic mixing bowl with the yoghurt, ginger, garlic, chilli powder, cumin, cardamom, half of the salt, the lime juice, half of the chopped coriander and mint and the green chillies. Stir well to combine. Set aside the remaining coriander and mint for layering the biryani.
Add the lamb to the mixture and stir to coat evenly. Cover and marinate in the fridge for 6–8 hours, or overnight if possible.
Preheat the oven to 240C/Fan 220C/Gas 9.
Heat the cream and milk in a small saucepan, add the saffron, remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 30 minutes.
Cook the rice in a large saucepan in plenty of boiling water with the remaining salt for 6–8 minutes, or until it is just cooked, but still has a bite. Drain the rice.
Spread half of the lamb mixture evenly in a wide, heavy-based casserole and cover with a layer of half the rice. Sprinkle over half of the reserved onions and half of the reserved coriander and mint. Sprinkle over half of the saffron mixture. Repeat with the remaining lamb, rice, onions, herbs and saffron mixture.
Cover with a tight-fitting lid, turn down the oven to 200C/Fan 180C/Gas 6 and cook for 1 hour. Remove and allow to stand for 15–20 minutes before serving. Garnish with pomegranate seeds if desired.
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John Maputla is one of the most-loved characters on SABC 1’s Skeem Saam. He is a university lecturer/businessman. His life is family orientated as well as of service to his community.
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