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  • Lamb Biryani

    TOOLS: You’ll need a small mixing bowl; a food processor; a large mixing bowl; a heavy-bottomed, 4-quart / 4-L sauté pan; a slotted spoon; a plate; tongs; a medium stockpot; and a 2-quart / 2-L ovenproof casserole dish with a tight lid (use aluminum foil if you don’t have a lid).
    TIP: Assemble this dish ahead of time and pop it into the oven 1 hour before dinner. It’s a delicious and easy meal, and you’ll have time to entertain your guests.
    VEGANIZE IT! See my recipe for Tofu Biryani.

    Think one-pot South Asian meal, and typically a good biryani will come to mind. The idea is that while the main protein and rice are partially cooked separately, the culinary magic happens when they come together in the oven. The juices from the meat below blend with the rice layered on top to create something uniquely delicious.

    • ¼ cup /60 mL warmed milk
    • 1 teaspoon saffron strands
    • 1 (2-inch / 5-cm) piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
    • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
    • 1–4 fresh Thai, serrano, or cayenne chiles, stems removed
    • 1 cup /20 g fresh cilantro
    • ¼ cup /5 g fresh mint leaves
    • 2 tablespoons Garam Masala
    • 1 teaspoon red chile powder or cayenne pepper
    • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
    • 1 cup /240 mL plain, unsweetened yogurt
    • 2 pounds /910 g boneless lamb shoulder or leg, cut into 1-inch / 3-cm cubes
    • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons /60 mL vegetable oil, divided
    • 3 large yellow onions, thinly sliced in rings
    • ½ teaspoon plus 3 pinches salt, divided
    • 2 cups /370 g uncooked white or brown basmati rice, washed
    • ¼ cup /40 g golden raisins
    • Water, to cover
    • 4–6 fried eggs, for serving
    1. In a small mixing bowl, combine the warmed milk and saffron strands and set aside to soak for at least 30 minutes while you prep the remaining ingredients.
    2. In the bowl of a food processor, grind the ginger, garlic, fresh chiles, cilantro, and mint leaves into a smooth paste. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the Garam Masala, red chile powder, turmeric, and yogurt, and stir until well combined.
    3. Slowly fold the lamb into the yogurt mixture and stir gently until all the pieces are evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to overnight.
    4. In a heavy-bottomed, 4-quart / 4-L sauté pan over medium–high heat, warm ¼ cup / 60 mL of the oil. Add the onions and 3 pinches of the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, until the onions are browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onions to a plate and leave the oil behind in the sauté pan.
    5. Return the sauté pan to medium–high heat and warm the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Using tongs, carefully add the marinated lamb to the sauté pan, leaving the marinade behind in the bowl. Reserve it—you’ll need it later. Cook for 2 minutes on each side.
    6. Reduce the heat to low and add the reserved marinade and all but 2 tablespoons of the onions reserved from Step 4 to the sauté pan. Sprinkle with the remaining ½ teaspoon of the salt. Cook, partially covered and stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. This mixture will stick slightly to the bottom of the pan, but the lamb will also release enough fat to keep it from sticking too much. Just be sure to stir occasionally and add a little water if you need it. Remove from the heat and set aside.
    7. Set the oven rack at the second-from-top position and preheat the oven to 450°F / 230°C.
    8. In a separate medium stockpot over medium–high heat, combine the rice, the raisins, and water to cover the rice by 2 inches / 5 cm and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for 7 minutes. If using brown rice, cook for 12 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside. If too much water remains in the pot after the cooking time, just drain and discard.
    9. Transfer the lamb mixture to a 2-quart / 2-L ovenproof casserole dish and layer the rice over the lamb. Tightly pack the rice in the dish and garnish with the browned onions reserved from Step 4. Pour the bowl of saffron and milk from Step 1 over the casserole. Cover the dish with its lid or tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven. You can also make individual servings of biryani in smaller ovenproof dishes—you may need to slightly reduce the cooking time.
    10. Serve immediately as a delicious one-pot meal with a fried egg on top of each serving.

Indian For Everyone by Anupy Singla. Copyright © 2014 Anupy Singla. Published by Agate Publishing. All rights reserved.

© 2016 Alta Editions LLC.