Add to Cookbook

Lamb biryani

  • 6-8
Lamb biryani

Tender lamb is cooked in fragrant spices and then covered with partially cooked rice and saffron-infused milk. This is baked slowly until the rice is cooked. Biryani is traditionally a festive dish of India and is delicious served with a crisp green winter salad.


  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon saffron threads (or use ½ teaspoon ground turmeric)
  • 3 onions, peeled
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
  • 4 cm piece fresh ginger
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons each ground cumin and ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon each ground cayenne, nutmeg and cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ¼ cup ground almonds
  • 750 grams boneless leg of lamb, trimmed of fat
  • 1 cup non-fat plain yoghurt


  1. Soak the rice in a large jug of water for 1 hour. Heat the milk and stir in the saffron threads or turmeric. Set aside.
  2. Slice two of the onions into rings and cook in hot oil in a large frying pan until they are well browned and crispy. Place on absorbent paper to drain. Reserve the oil.
  3. Chop the third onion roughly and place in a food processor with the garlic, ginger, spices, salt and almonds. Process to form a smooth paste, then set aside.
  4. Cut the lamb into 2.5cm pieces. Reheat the oil and quickly brown the lamb in batches. Set aside on a plate.
  5. Add the onion paste to the oil and cook over a moderate heat for 5 minutes, turning regularly. Gradually blend in the yoghurt and half a cup of water.
  6. Return the lamb and any juices to the pan and simmer gently in the spice paste for 45 minutes. Transfer to a large casserole.
  7. Drain the rice. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the rice for 5 minutes only. Drain well.
  8. Pile rice on to the lamb, creating a pyramid shape. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to make 5-6 deep holes in the pyramid; pour a little of the saffron or turmeric milk into each hole.
  9. Cover and cook at 150ºC for 1 hour. Stand 15 minutes before turning out to serve. Serve garnished with one or more of the following if wished; raisins or sultanas, slivered almonds, coriander or yoghurt.

Comments (0)

Please login to submit a comment.