Traditional Taste

In full disclosure, biryani can be a laborious, time-consuming process. The version I prepared was from Julie Sahni’s Classic Indian Cooking cookbook. I used some homemade venison broth that I had in the freezer, ghee instead of butter and saffron threads instead of turmeric. I roasted my own spices to make a homemade garam masala spice mixture. It was a two-day process that I was happy to take on for a special family member’s 50th birthday celebration. This is an easier version adapted from Food & Wine magazine that will save countless hours but give you equally delicious results. The layers of lamb, rice and spices will definitely impress family and guests alike, and it will fill your home with a warm and inviting aroma.

Lamb Biryani

(adapted from Food & Wine magazine)

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound boneless lamb, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, cut into thin slices
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice
  • 2 3/4 cups water (or broth)
  • 1/3 cup raisins, for garnish
  • 1/3 cup chopped cashews, for garnish

In a medium bowl, combine yogurt with the garlic, cayenne pepper, cumin, black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. › Stir in the lamb. › In a large saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat. › Add the onion, and cook until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. › Stir in the cardamom, turmeric, cloves, cinnamon, rice and the remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons salt. › Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. › Add the lamb mixture to the pan. › Stir in the water and raisins. › Bring to a simmer. › Cover, and simmer until the rice and lamb are almost done, about 20 minutes. › Remove from the heat. › Let stand, covered, until the rice and lamb are just done, about 5 minutes. › Stir in the cashews.

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