Lamb curry, layered and cooked with rice
Lamb biryani is my idea of the ultimate gourmet comfort food. Sure, it is slightly tedious to make but leftovers are a great comfort! I like to make the lamb curry a day ahead, perhaps even sneak a bit of it for supper and then convert the leftovers into a delicious biryani the next day. The garnish of sliced boiled eggs, fried onions, nuts and raisins are great for adding flavor but are really not essential if you are in a hurry.
For the curry:
- 1 -1/4 lb. boneless leg of lamb, cubed into 1 inch pieces
- 1 medium onion, quartered
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 inch piece of ginger
- 1/4 cup plain yogurt
- 6 large canned whole plum tomatoes, lightly drained
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
- 1 tsp ground cumin seeds
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 2 tbsp oil
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
Place lamb in a large mixing bowl. Add all remaining ingredients except oil and cumin seeds, to food processor and mince well. Pour over lamb and mix well.
Heat oil in deep non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add cumin seeds and let them sizzle for 30 seconds. Add lamb and all its marinade, stirring continuously for 5 mins.
Cover and let mixture come to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cook until lamb is very tender, about 1 hour or longer. Stir occasionally. The sauce should be very thick and clinging to the lamb at the end of cooking. If there is still a lot of liquid left at the end of cooking, uncover skillet, turn up heat to medium high and cook off some of the excess. Reserve and refrigerate lamb curry until ready to make biryani.
For the biryani:
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1 tbsp oil
- ½ tsp saffron strands
- ¼ cup warm water
- 2 tbsp melted butter
- ¼ cup golden fried onions
- 2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in deep saucepan set over high heat. Add rice and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat to medium and cook until the rice is just done but not mushy, about 7 mins. Drain and spread on a tray to cool.
Meanwhile, soak the saffron in the warm water for 15 mins.
Choose a large heavy bottomed, deep saucepan with a tight fitting lid for assembling the biryani. Set it over medium high heat and add the oil. Add reserved lamb curry and spread it in an even layer in the bottom of the pan. Cover it completely with the rice.
Sprinkle the saffron water over the rice. Drizzle melted butter over top. If you are using the optional garnishes, scatter them over top as well. Cover pan and let it heat up for 2-3 mins. Reduce heat to very low and let biryani cook for 1 hour. Uncover pan, making sure all the sauce has been absorbed by the rice. Transfer to a platter, mixing it gently as you go.