Lamb Biryani

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January 24, 2016 by dgarnett2013

Lamb Biryani: Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour


Great for using up left over lamb, e.g. from Slow cooked lamb shoulder.

Serves 6 – 8 (or do half quantities for 4)

  • vegetable oil
  • 6 large onions
  • 800g boneless lamb neck fillets, cut into 2.5cm chunks
  • 1 tab green cardamom pods
  • 6 black cardamom pods
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tabs cumin seeds
  • 4 cinnamon sticks, each 7cm long
  • 200g Greek yoghurt
  • sea salt
  • 600g basmati rice
  • 2 generous pinches of saffron threads
  • 2 tabs boiling water
  • 125g butter


Preheat a large saucepan over a medium high heat and pour in 250ml vegetable oil.

Chop 4 of the onions in half and then into 5mm thick half moons. Fry the onion slices in the oil – there should be just enough oil to cover them so you may need to add more – stirring every few minutes, until they are golden brown and crispy.

Using a slotted spoon, drain the onions on to a plate lined with kitchen paper and set aside.

Pour out the oil, leaving behind just enough to coat the base of the pan.

Roughly dice the remaining 2 onions and fry them over a medium-high heat until they become translucent.

Add the diced lamb and sear it until it begins to brown (ignore this is using leftover cooked lamb).

Put in the green and black cardamom pods, bay leaves, turmeric, cumin seeds and cinnamon sticks and mix well. (Add the left over lamb if using).

Pour in just enough boiling water to barely cover the meat, reduce the heat to medium and cook the lamb for about 1½ hours until just tender. Leave to cool.

Once cooled, add the yogurt to the lamb, season generously with sea salt, stir well and set aside.

Preheat a large saucepan over a medium-high heat. Fill the pan with boiling water and add the rice with a generous handful of crumbled sea salt.

Boil for 6-8 mins until the rice is parboiled – i.e. when the grains become more brilliant white and slightly elongated and begin to soften.

Drain the rice and rinse it immediately under cold running water for a couple of minutes to wash off all the excess starch until it is cool.

Line the bottom of the saucepan used to parboil the rice with some nonstick baking paper and set aside.

Grind the saffron with a pestle and mortar, then pour over the 2 tabs of boiling water and leave to infuse.

Back to the rice: return the paper-lined saucepan to the hob and pour in a generous drizzle of oil with a couple of good knobs of butter. Add 1 tab crushed sea salt.

Scatter in just enough rice to cover the base of the pan with a good layer. Drizzle a little of the saffron over this layer of rice.

Add a layer of lamb onto the rice, then cover with another layer of rice, more saffron water, then a generous layer of crispy onions plus more dots of butter.

Repeat layers until rice, lamb, crispy onions and butter are all used up.

Wrap the pan lid in a tea towel, cover the pan and cook the rice on the lowest temperature possible for 30 – 45 mins, or until the rice is cooked.

When ready to serve, either flip the rice on to a serving dish or decant on to a serving platter, then scrap out the crispy tahdig from the base of the pan and serve it on top.

Eaten the day the terrace was (nearly) finished and the kids tested it out.

terrace4 terrace3

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