Biryani is a festive dish that is aromatic and flavourful, and a very popular to serve to large groups of people. This particular recipe feeds 8-10 people, but you can easily scale up if the party gets bigger! This is a great way of feeding a lot of people with a small amount of meat, as the rice really absorbs the flavour of the meat and becomes one with everything. This satisfying dish can be made with beef stew, chicken thighs, or even goat shoulder.
Serves 8 – 10
1 onion, sliced
3 tbsp clarified butter (see note)
2.5 lbs lamb shoulder, bone in, cut into 1" cubes
5 garlic cloves, pureed with microplane
2 tbsp ginger pureed with microplane
2 tbsp salt
1 tsp chili flakes/powder
1 tbsp chopped green chilies (jalapeno works fine)
1 tbsp chopped mint
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
2 cups yogurt
2 limes juiced
3 black cardamom
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 piece cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup clarified butter
1 tsp saffron
1 cup hot milk
2 cups basmati, soaked in plenty of warm water
*Clarified butter, or ghee as it is known throughout India and surrounding countries, can either be purchased as is, or easily made at home. To make clarified butter, slowly melt a pound of butter in a small pot over a medium heat. Skim any impurities that rise to the surface, and after about 30 minutes you should be left with the clear butterfat without the milk solids. It keeps in the fridge for six months.
1. In a large sauté pan over a medium heat, cook the onions in 3 tbsp of clarified butter until slightly brown and translucent.
2. Place the lamb meat into a large bowl. Add the pureed garlic, ginger, salt, chili flakes, fresh green chillies, mint, cilantro, yogurt, lime juice, and fried onions. Stir well.
3. In a large pan on a medium heat, toast the cardamom, peppercorns, cinnamon, and cloves until fragrant. Cool, then wrap and tie the spices in a cheesecloth or a large tea infuser ball. Add the spice pack to the lamb mixture, cover, and leave on the counter to marinate for one hour. Alternately, you can mix the spices into the lamb mixture loose, I just prefer being able to remove them before serving.
3. Soak the rice in 6 cups of cold water while the lamb marinates.
4. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
5. Melt 1/2 cup of clarified butter in a large pot over a medium heat, then add the lamb mixture. Bring it to a simmer, and cook for thirty minutes or until the lamb is tender. Meanwhile bring a pot with 2-3 quarts of water to a boil. Add one tbsp of salt. Strain the rice and add to the boiling water, and cook for five minutes before straining.
6. Heat the milk in a small pot, then add the saffron. Allow to infuse for at least five minutes.
7. When the lamb is tender, pour the mixture into casserole. Spread the half-cooked rice evenly over the meat, then drizzle the saffron milk over everything. Cover with a tight lid or tin foil, then bake in the hot oven for 30-45 minutes, or until the rice is tender.
8. Serve immediately, perhaps with naan bread and a yogurt-cucumber salad.