Yogurt Marinated Lamb with Tri-Masala and Basmati Rice (Hyderabadi Biryani)

Total Time:
4 hr 15 min
45 min
2 hr
1 hr 30 min

4 servings

  • For the Lamb:
  • 1 pound lamb, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 pint plain yogurt
  • 4 teaspoons ghee or clarified butter
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 green chiles, chopped
  • 3 large onions, chopped
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • For the Rice:
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 3 teaspoons ghee or clarified butter
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 3 sticks cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon black cumin seeds
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch saffron (or yellow food coloring)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 large onion, peeled sliced and fried, for garnish
  • 1/8 cup cashews, for garnish
  • 1/8 cup raisins, for garnish
  • 2 peeled and quartered hard boiled eggs, for garnish
  • For Masala 1:
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 -inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
  • For Masala 2:
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 12 red chiles
  • For Masala 3:
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • 3 teaspoons chopped cashew nuts
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • Place lamb in a bowl, coat with yogurt, cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

  • Begin preparing rice by soaking in water for 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

  • Prepare masala 1 by grinding together garlic clove and ginger to a fine paste. This can be done through the feed tube of a running food processor and finished with a mortar and pestle or molachete.

  • Prepare masala 2 by grinding coriander seeds, fennel seeds and poppy seeds (either manually with a mortar and pestle or with a coffee grinder). Then make a fine paste by adding the red chiles through the feed tube of a food processor followed by the dry ground spices.

  • Prepare masala 3 by grinding together coconut, cashew nuts and yogurt (in that order) through the feed tube of a running food processor.

  • To begin cooking the lamb, heat 4 teaspoons ghee in a wok and swirl to coat inside surface. Add 3 cloves, 3 cardamom pods, and 3 cinnamon sticks, and "toast" briefly in the wok. Then, add chopped green chiles and onion and fry until mixture turns golden brown (be careful not to burn). Add masala 1 and stir well, cooking for a few minutes. Add masala 2 and stir well, cooking for a few minutes to integrate flavors. Add the diced tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer marinated lamb to wok and also add cilantro and mint leaves. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, then add 1/2 cup water and salt. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, then stir in masala 3. Cover and cook until the sauce becomes thick.

For the rice:
  • Heat 3 teaspoons ghee in another wok or saucepan and add cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, bay leaf and cumin seeds, and fry for 1 minute. Add the rice and stir for about 2 to 3 minutes to "toast" the rice. Add the 3 1/2 cups water and salt, bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and let cook until the water is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. When rice is done, remove from heat and allow to cool.

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  • The biryani will be layered in a dish. A 13 by 9-inch ovenproof dish (such as the type used for lasagna) or something similar would be suitable. Divide rice into 3 parts and the lamb mixture into 2 parts. Grease the dish and arrange 5 alternate layers of rice and meat, beginning and ending with rice. Dissolve the saffron (or yellow food coloring) in the 1/4 cup milk and spoon it over the top layer of rice. Cover the biryani (with foil) and bake for 30 minutes. Let rest for a few minutes before serving.

  • Transfer to a serving plate to reveal layers. Garnish with fried onions, cashew nuts, raisins and hard boiled eggs.

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