North Indian dish of Moghul origin, Biryani (bir-yah-nee) a fragrant of meat, spices, nuts and saffron rice. The traditional meat in a Biryani is lamb, but today prawns, chicken or other meats are also used by Indian cooks. It is a main dish, the quantity of lamb being double that of the rice, and so it may be served alone with a yogurt salad or as a part of a much larger and elaborate Indian meal, consisting of other meat and vegetable dishes with chutneys and pickles.

8 tablespoons clarified butter or cooking oil

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper I2 teaspoons cumin seeds

2 lb. lean lamb, boned and cut into

1 inch cubes

4-inch piece cinnamon

10 cloves

8 peppercorns

1 teaspoon cardamom seeds

10 fl. oz. yogurt

1 teaspoons salt

1 lb. basmati rice, washed, soaked in cold water for

30 minutes and drained

1 teaspoon saffron threads soaked in

2 tablespoons boiling water for

10 minutes

2 onions, thinly sliced V oz. almonds, blanched and slivered

12 oz. pistachio nuts

2 oz. sultanas or raisins

In a large pan, heat 4 tablespoons clarified butter, or cooking oil, over moderate heat.

Add the garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper and cumin seeds to the pan. Fry for 3 minutes. Raise the heat, add the lamb cubes and fry well for 10 or 15 minutes, or until the meat is browned lightly on all sides. Stir in the cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, cardamom, yogurt and 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix well and add 5 fluid ounces of water. Bring the mixture to the boil. Lower the heat, cover the saucepan and simmer for 35 minutes or until the lamb is tender.

In a large saucepan, bring 3 pints of water to the boil. Add the remaining salt and pour in the drained rice. Boil briskly for 12 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, drain the rice thoroughly and set aside.

Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F (Gas Mark 4, 180CC).


1 tablespoon of clarified butter or oil into a large ovenproof casserole dish. Put one-third of the parboiled rice in the bottom of the casserole. Sprinkle one-third of the saffron water over it. With a slotted spoon, remove one-third of the lamb cubes from the saucepan and put them over the rice. Put in another third part of the rice sprinkled with saffron water.

Remove all the remaining meat cubes from the pan with a slotted spoon and put them on top. Finish with a last layer of the remaining rice. Pour all the liquid left in the saucepan in which the lamb was cooked carefully over the rice and meat.

Sprinkle the remaining saffron water over the top layer of rice. Cover the casserole well, using aluminium foil to seal it. Place the casserole in the oven and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, or more until the rice is cooked and has absorbed all the liquid.

In a small frying-pan, heat

3 table-spoons of clarified butter or oil over high heat. Add the onions, lower the heat to moderate and, stirring frequently, fry for

10 minutes, or until they are golden brown. With a slotted spoon, remove the onions and set aside on kitchen paper towels to drain.

Add the almonds, pistachio nuts and sultanas to the pan, adding more clarified butter or oil if necessary. Fry them for 3 minutes, or until the nuts are lightly browned. Remove the nuts and sultanas with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate.

Pile the rice and lamb attractively on a large heated serving dish and sprinkle the top with the nuts, sultanas and onions.

Serve immediately with a chilled yogurt salad.

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