My ever reliable cookbook by Angela Nielsen, The Ultimate Recipe Book, was the source that I adapted for this keeper of a recipe. The accompanying tomato raita paired very well with it. My only gripe was that it took quite sometime to make and involved a lot of steps and ingredients. But it is perfect for those infrequent special occasions where your effort will be well rewarded with one delicious complete meal.
600 gm lean boneless leg of lamb - cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Tbsp minced or grated garlic
1/2 Tbsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp sea salt
150 gm natural yoghurt
*For the rice:
300 gm basmati rice
1 cinnamon stick - halved
5 green cardamom pods - lightly bashed
1 tsp cumin seeds
700 ml chicken stock
*For the drizzle:
5 Tbsp lukewarm milk
generous pinch of saffron strands
1 tsp garam masala
25 gm butter - melted
4 medium onions - cut into half lengthwise then very thinly sliced
5 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp hot chilli powder
1 - 2 fresh chillies - chopped (optional)
60 ml [1/4 cup] hot water
1/2 cup toasted almonds or cashews
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh mint leaves (optional)
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
Coriander and Tomato Raita
- Marinate the meat - combine the yoghurt, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, and salt in a bowl. Mix in the lamb and marinate for 2-3 hours or more.
- Dissolve the saffron in the lukewarm milk. Set aside.
- Combine the melted butter and garam masala. Set aside.
- Once the lamb has marinated, saute one of the sliced onions in 1 1/2 Tbsp oil in a saute pan. Fry over medium-low heat until it has softened (about 5 minutes).
- Add the marinated lamb (including the marinade) a tablespoon at a time, cooking and frying briefly before adding the next one. This helps stop the yoghurt from curdling.
- When all the lamb has been added, cook for about 10 minutes.
- Add the chilli powder and/or fresh chillies (if using) and fry for a few seconds.
- Mix in the hot water. Bring to boil and then turn the heat to low and simmer covered for about 1 hour or until meat is very tender. Stir from time to time.
- Put the rice in a bowl cover with cold water and soak for about 20 minutes. Drain. Set aside.
- While the rice is soaking and the meat is cooking, cook the rest of the onions in a large saute pan with about 2 Tbsp oil on medium heat. Sprinkle salt on it to stop it from burning.
- Fry for about 25 minutes or until golden brown all over. Tip the onions onto kitchen paper towels, spread them out in thin layer and set aside to cool.
- To cook the rice - heat the remaining 1 1/2 Tbsp oil in the pan used for the onion. Fry the cinnamon sticks, cardamom, cloves and cumin seeds for about a minute or until you could smell the aroma.
- Add the drained rice and fry for a minute, stirring all the time. Add in the stock and bring to boil. Cover and cook over medium heat for about 6-7 minutes or until the all the stock has been absorbed. Take off the heat, let stand but keep the cover on.
- Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/350F. Butter a 2.5 litre casserole dish or pot.
- Fluff the rice with a fork while picking out the spices from it.
- Spread in half of the lamb at the bottom of the casserole.
- Scatter a third of the fried onions on top.
- Spoon half of the rice on top of the lamb and onions, then pour the spiced butter all over.
- Repeat the layers and finish with a sprinkling of the spiced milk on the rice, then the rest of the fried onions and toasted nuts.
- Cover tightly with foil then put the casserole cover on and bake in oven for about 20 minutes.
- Sprinkle with mint (if using) and coriander. Serve with coriander and tomato raita (see below).
Coriander and Tomato Raita
1/2 tsp cumin seeds or powder
300 gm natural yoghurt
1 medium tomato - deseeded and chopped finely
about 1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander
salt to taste
- If using cumin seeds, briefly dry-fry the seeds in a small pan until toasty and aromatic. Grind to a powder.
- Combine cumin powder and all the other ingredients in a bowl.
- Add salt to taste. Mix well.