Monday, May 24, 2010

Just another Sunday...Pakistani Lamb Biryani


It all started off the same as most Sundays, "I want to cook something good today" Dr. Food was on it like cat hair on black pants. He was leafing through the magazines at top speed. He found the recipe for Pakistani Lamb Biryani in Sauver magazine and the rest was history. It didn't hurt that we had every ingredient in the house already.

The "other" trinity which consisted of ginger, chilies, and garlic.


Some of our killer lamb.


Not sure why it says Lamb chops on there because that isn't what it was.


Lots of chopped tomato.


Music. There always has to be music playing while you cook.


A strawberry margarita (ok, so we went multicultural here)


Lots of saffron. We are lucky enough to have amazing kids that know what Mommy likes. So when they went to Spain they sent me this and a bunch of other neato stuff.


The color is incredible.


The smell was even better. I wish the internet had smell enhancement options.


This dish really wasn't hard to make. Takes tons of spices and if you don't have them already that can be a drag, but it isn't hard to make if you have the stuff on hand.


After simmering for about an hour the rice and lamb are layered in a pot to steam for a few minutes.

Ok, let me take a second to explain what you are going to see next. You see, I have been sick all week and I have a sinus infection. I really didn't feel like cooking anything TOO elaborate AND our friends are coming next weekend for dinner and we are doing Indian food then. Also, the dog ate the other recipes before I could cook them.





I have to admit that they were pretty darn good.

Meantime I wanted to show you my padron peppers. I have to plant them outside soon.


I bought a Keffir lime tree!


and Dr. Food gave me a lemon tree for my birthday. We will have to bring these in winter time.


Did I make you forget that I made a couple frozen indian dishes for my dinner yet?


It was really good!

This recipe comes from SAVEUR kitchen assistant Ambreen Hasan, a native of Karachi, Pakistan.

Pakistani Lamb Biryani

1 cup canola oil
3 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. garam masala
1 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
1⁄2 tsp. turmeric
18 black peppercorns
9 pods green cardamom
3 pods black cardamom
2 2" cinnamon sticks
6 cloves garlic, minced
6 tomatoes, cored and minced
5 serrano chiles, stemmed and minced
1 1 1⁄2" piece ginger, peeled and minced
2 lbs. trimmed lamb shoulder,
cut into 2–3" pieces
Kosher salt, to taste
1⁄2 cup plain yogurt
3⁄4 cup roughly chopped mint leaves
1⁄4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
40 threads saffron, crushed (heaping 1⁄2 tsp.)
2 1⁄2 cups white basmati rice, soaked in cold
water for 30 minutes, drained
1⁄2 tsp. cumin seeds
4 whole cloves
2 dried bay leaves
Rose water or kewra essence (optional)
Red/orange food color (optional)

1. Heat 1⁄4 cup oil in a 5-qt. skillet over high heat. Add onions; cook, stirring occasionally, until dark brown, 20–25 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; set aside.

2. Heat remaining oil in a 5-qt. pot over high heat. Add garam masala, chile flakes, turmeric, 10 peppercorns, 5 green cardamom pods, 2 black cardamom pods, and 1 cinnamon stick; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add garlic, tomatoes, chiles, and ginger; cook, stirring, 2–3 minutes. Add lamb, season with salt, and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Cover, reduce heat to medium; cook until lamb is tender, about 1 hour. Add fried onions, yogurt, 1⁄2 cup mint, and 2 tbsp. cilantro; cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes more. Set aside.

3. Put saffron into a bowl and cover with 1⁄2 cup hot water; set aside. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a 5-qt. saucepan. Add remaining peppercorns, green and black cardamom, and cinnamon, along with the rice, cumin, cloves, and bay leaves, and season with salt. Cook rice until al dente, 5–10 minutes; drain rice and set aside.

4. Transfer half the lamb curry to a 5-qt. pot. Top lamb with half the rice. Pour half the saffron mixture onto rice along with a few drops of rose water and food coloring (if using); mix into rice with your fingers. Top with remaining lamb curry and remaining rice; drizzle with remaining saffron; mix. Steam, covered, on low heat until rice is tender, about 10 minutes. Garnish with remaining mint and cilantro.

This article was first published in Saveur in Issue #128


  1. god, we really ought to live a lot closer to each other! This looks terrific!That my.

  2. Looks great, and love your plants:)

  3. What a gorgeous meal. This is my first visit to your blog. I found you by chance and had intended to only say hello and move on. I, instead, began reading your earlier posts and ended up staying far longer than I had intended. I really like your recipes and find your blog quite interesting. I'll be back as often as I can. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

  4. Lamb biryani is my favourite! I've been a little too intimidated to try it out at home because of the huuuuuuge list of ingredients, but you make it sound so super-easy. :)
    (So jealous of your citrus trees, BTW... another thing that I'm a little too intimidated to try at home)