Lamb Biryani

One of our guests for Thanksgiving brought leg of lamb – how wonderful! With all the food we made, I had both turkey and lamb leftovers.  I ended up freezing about 3 cups-worth of lamb pieces.IMG_8702.JPGI had initially planned on using leftover turkey and making turkey biryani, but I decided the lamb would be an even better dish.  I was right, this was fabulous!  I am sure that having a wonderfully indian flavored leg of lamb to start helped; this was almost double-flavored lamb.  The meat turned out incredibly tender, the rice was cooked perfectly and the heat level was perfect, just enough to really feel it, but still keep on eating!IMG_8715.JPGMy husband is a big fan of biryani, and when I asked how this could be better, he had not suggestions.  He loved it and ate himself silly! Next year I will need to try it with leftover turkey!

Lamb Biryani

Adapted from David Tanis’ Turkey Biryani published in the New York Times 11/21/12

  • about 3 cups of cooked lamb, cut into 1-inch pieces.
  • Kosher salt
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon grated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 cups best-quality basmati rice
  • 6 tablespoons ghee, clarified butter or vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, sliced in 1/8 inch half-moons
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 6 cloves
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 1 2-inch stick cinnamon
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup raw cashews


Cut meat into rough 1-inch pieces.

In a mixing bowl, combine yogurt, ginger, garlic, garam masala, turmeric and cayenne, plus 1 teaspoon salt.IMG_8703.JPGAdd the meat, mix well, and let marinate in mixture for 30 minutes.IMG_8704.JPGMeanwhile, wash and rinse the rice with cold water until the water runs clear. Soak rice in cold water 20 minutes, then drain in a colander.

Melt 4 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat in a wide, heavy-bottomed ovenproof Dutch oven. In batches, fry the onions until crisp and brown, about 5 to 7 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels and salt lightly. Return half the onions to the pot and reserve the other half.IMG_8705.JPGWhen onions begin to sizzle, add the turkey mixture, stirring well to coat, and let fry lightly for 3 to 4 minutes. Add tomato paste and stir to combine,IMG_8708.JPGthen add 1 cup broth and bring to a simmer.IMG_8709.JPGCook 2 minutes, then add 3 cups broth and bring to a gentle boil. Taste broth; it should be well salted and highly seasoned. Add the peppercorns, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon.IMG_8710.JPGHeat oven to 375 degrees. Add drained rice to pot and stir. Adjust heat to a brisk simmer and cook, uncovered, for 8 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed and the surface of the rice looks dry. Top with reserved fried onions. Cover tightly and bake for 20 minutes. Remove and let rest for 10 minutes. (The biryani may be cooked to this point several hours ahead and reheated.)IMG_8713.JPGIn a small skillet, melt 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add raisins and lightly fry for about 1 minute, until heated through and puffed a bit. Using a slotted spoon, remove to a small bowl. In the remaining ghee, fry cashews until barely golden, about 2 minutes. Remove and combine with raisins. Sprinkle with salt.

Top biryani with raisins and cashews.IMG_8714.JPGServe and enjoy!IMG_8716.JPGServes 6.

Let me know what you think of this post, and if you try the recipe, please let me know how it was and any suggestions you have. Thanks, Andrea

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