Lamb And Rice Casserole (Mughlai Lamb Biryani)
2 cups long grain rice
3 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon saffron threads
2 tablespoons warm milk
3 medium onions (peeled)
4 cloves garlic (peeled)
3/4 inch cube of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons blanched, slivered almonds
2/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons water
13 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons golden raisins
1 1/2 pound boned lamb meat (from the shoulder) cut into 1 inch cubes
**NOTE** you can substitute beef or chicken easily.
1 cup plain yoghurt
5-6 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon whole cardamom seeds
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 inch stick of cinnamon
1/6 of a nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and at room temperature
Wash the rice in several changes of water. Drain it and put it in a large bowl. Add 2 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt. Mix and soak for 3 hours. Put the saffron threads in a small, heavy frying pan set over a medium flame. Toss the threads about until they turn a few shades darker. Put the warm milk in a small cup. Crumble the saffron into the warm milk and let it soak for 3 hours. Cut two of the onions in half lengthwise, and then cut the halves into fine half-rings. Set these aside. Chop the remaining onion very coarsely. Put this chopped onion, garlic, ginger, 2 tablespoons of the almonds, and 3 tablespoons water into the container of an electric blender. Blend until you have a paste.
Heat 6 tablespoons of the oil in a 10 inch non stick frying pan over a medium high flame. When hot, put in the onion half rings. Stir and fry them until they are brown and crisp. Remove them with a slotted spoon and spread them out on a plate lined with paper towels.
Put the raisins into the same oil. Remove them as soon as they turn plump – which happens immediately. Put the raisins in another plate lined with paper towels. Put the remaining 2 tablespoons almonds into the oil. Stir and fry them until they are golden. Remove them with a slotted spoon and spread them out beside the raisins. Set aside for use as the garnish.
Now put the meat cubes, a few at a time, into the same hot oil and brown them on all sides. As each batch gets done, put it in a bowl.
Add another 7 tablespoons oil to the frying pan and turn the heat to medium. When hot, put in the onion-garlic-ginger-almond paste from the blender. Fry, stirring all the time, until the paste turns a medium brown color. If it sticks slightly to the bottom of the pan, sprinkle in a little water and keep stirring. Return the meat and any accumulated juices to the pan. Add the yoghurt, a tablespoon at a time, stirring well between each addition. Now put in 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and 2/3 cup water. Mix and bring to a simmer. Cover, turn heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
While the meat is cooking, put the cloves, peppercorns, cardamom seeds, cinnamon and nutmeg into the container of a spice grinder or a clean coffee grinder. Grind finely.
When the meat has cooked for 30 minutes, add all the spices from the spice grinder as well as the cayenne and mix well. Cover again and continue to cook on low heat for another 30 minutes. Remove cover, raise heat to medium, and cook, stirring all the time, until you have about 3/4 cup of thick sauce left at the bottom of the pan (DON’T EAT THIS NO MATTER HOW GOOD IT SMELLS!!! YOU NEED ALL OF IT!).
Turn off the heat and spoon off as much grease as possible. The meat should be pretty well cooked by now.
Spread out the meat and sauce in the bottom of a heavy casserole. Cover and keep warm.
Preheat oven to low-moderate, 300 degrees.
Bring 3 1/2 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons salt to it. Drain the rice and rinse it off under running water. Slowly, scatter the rice into the boiling water. Bring to a boil again and boil rapidly for exactly 6 minutes. Then drain the rice.
Work fast now. Put the rice on top of the meat, piling it up in the shape of a hill. Take a chopstick or the handle of a long spoon and make a 1 inch wide hole going down like a well from the peak of the rice hill to its bottom. Drizzle the saffron milk in streaks along the sides of the hill. Lay the pieces of butter on the sides of the hill and scatter 2 tablespoons of the browned onions over it as well. Cover first with aluminum foil, sealing the edges well, and then with a lid. Bake in the oven for 1 hour.
Remove from the oven. If left in a warm place, this rice will stay hot for 30 minutes.
Just before you get ready to serve, quarter the eggs lengthwise. Mix the contents of the rice pot gently. Serve the rice on a warmed platter, garnished with the eggs, remaining browned onions, raisins and almonds.
This has got to be my absolute favorite food to eat, although it takes about 3 hours to make. I don’t care too much for almonds, so I omit them, and add 1 can of chick-peas (1/2 in the paste, and the other 1/2 fried like the raisins, onions, etc). Make sure you rinse the chick-peas well before using. SHARE With Your Friends: