There is nothing – according to me – more intoxicating than the scent of Biryani except for that of sizzling lamb meat. Combine the two and you have complete euphoria of the senses. This method for making Lamb Biryani was inspired by Amma’s technique for making Mutton Soup. I often find the meat in Lamb Biryani to be tasteless as if ‘boiled’ as a result of the baking process. My remedy for this is to brown the meat then infuse in a spicy yogurt marinade. ..one that ferments at room temperature for 3-4 hours resulting in lusciously succulent meat.
Prep time: 3 hours
Cook time: 2 hours
Total time: 5 hours
Yield: serves 8 people
Most South African Biryani includes lentils-I have omitted this from the recipe.I have used 2 tablespoons masala. Use fresh chillies or preferred limit of spices .
1kg lean lamb meat (cubed)
Biryani mix or
8-10 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
3 sticks cinnamon
4 bay leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
600g Basmati rice
1 cup chopped coriander
2.5 tablespoons mutton curry masala or similar substitute
1 tablespoon garam masala
half teaspoon saffron or add1 teaspoon turmeric to the marinade.
bunch fresh coriander
1 cup peas
1 cup carrots or vegetables of your choice
3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
- Prepare the meat at least 3-4 hours before you intend to cook. If you opt for my method of browning the meat then it is best to cook the biryani on the same day rather than leave the meat overnight. Prepare the meat by removing excess fat and bones.Save these in the freezer for dishes like Dhal Ghost.
- Place the meat in a heavy based or non stick pan on high heat. Add half a teaspoon of oil.According to my sisters recommendation – brown the meat on both sides for 2-3 minutes. You want to seal the meat as quickly as possible without cooking too long. The process of browning helps seal in all the moisture in the meat. The result , meat that is more flavorsome.
- Remove from stove.Allow to cool for 10 minutes then add the yogurt, garam masala and mutton curry masala, and chopped coriander. Mix well the leave aside at room temperature for 3-4 hours.
- Soak and wash the rice at the same time.When ready to cook the Biryani then wash and set aside until needed.Prepare the saffron for later by soaking in 2 tablespoons milk.
- To cook the Lam Biryani place a heavy based pan on medium heat. Add the oil, once warm- add the onions and Biryani spices. Braise until the onions soften.
- Add the marinated lamb.Fry for 2-3 minutes then add peas, carrots and 3 cups of water. Cover and allow to simmer on low heat while you prepare the rice and onion rings.
- To make the onion rings- slice the onions into rings then fry on medium heat until slightly brown.Leave aside. Prepare the rice.
- Add the saffron into the rice.Mix well until combined. If saffron is not available then add a teaspoon turmeric powder to the marinade.This will help achieve the characteristic yellow color of the rice.
- Layer the Biryani beginning with rice followed by the Lamb then top with onion rings and coriander the repeat the process ending with a top layer of sauce.
- Sprinkle half a cup of water across the rice then cover with aluminum foil. Bake in the oven for 90 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius.
- Remove from oven. Serve with roast potatoes, dhal and brinjal, mint raita and don’t forget about carrot salad.