Meat and Fruit Pilau

A festive dish of rice with lamb, fruit mid nuts, Meat and Fruit Pilau may be served as part of an Indian meal or on its own accompanied by yogurt and various salads and chutneys.

6-8

2 oz. butter

2 onions, sliced

1-inch piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed

1 teaspoon cardamom seeds, crushed

1 teaspoon peppercorns, crushed

1 cinnamon stick, broken in half

1 lb. boned leg of lamb, cut into ;j-inch cubes

4 oz. dried apricots

4 oz. sultanas or seedless raisins

2 oz. cashew nuts, slit in half

2 oz. almonds, blanched and slivered

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons salt

15 fl. oz. chicken stock or water

3 pints water

12 oz. Basmati rice, washed, soaked in cold water for

30 minutes and drained

12 oz. butter, melted

½ teaspoon saffron threads soaked in

2 tablespoons boiling water for

10 minutes

2 oz. pistachio nuts

In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat. When the foam subsides, add the onions, ginger and garlic and fry, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes or until the onions are soft and translucent but not brown. Add the cumin, coriander, cardamom, peppercorns and cinnamon and fry, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.

Add the lamb cubes and fry, turning the cubes over frequently, for 10 to 15 minutes or until they are browned. Add the apricots, sultanas or raisins, cashew nuts, half the almonds, the bay leaves and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Pour in the chicken stock or water, cover the pan and simmer the mixture for 35 minutes or until the lamb is tender. Taste the mixture and add more salt if necessary. Remove the pan from the heat. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick. Set aside and keep warm.

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

In a large saucepan, bring the water to the boil over high heat. Add the remaining salt and the rice and boil for U minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and drain the rice in a strainer.

Pour

1 tablespoon of the melted butter into a large ovenproof casserole. Put one-third of the rice in the bottom of the casserole. Sprinkle the rice with one-third of the saffron water. With a slotted spoon, transfer half of the meat and fruit mixture to the casserole. Put in another one-third of the rice and saffron water. Add the remaining meat and fruit mixture – reserving the pan juices. Finish with a last layer of rice sprinkled with the remaining saffron water. Pour over all the reserved pan juices. Sprinkle the top with the pistachio nuts, the remaining almonds and the remaining melted butter.

Cover the casserole and put it in the centre of the oven. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the rice is tender and has absorbed all the liquid.

Remove the casserole from the oven. Serve the pilau immediately, from the casserole.

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