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 g 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 g natural yoghurt
*For the rice:
300 g 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 g 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 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F. 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 g 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.