Biryani

This recipe is based on one I got from my father. Please treat the measurements as rough and adapt based on the size of your pan1.

Ingredients

  • Lamb neck2, 500g, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Potato, 500g, peeled, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Onion, 1 medium, sliced thin
  • Basmati rice, 450g
  • Plain yoghurt, ~250g
  • Garlic, 6 cloves, crushed
  • Ginger, 1 inch, peeled and grated
  • Cumin, 1 tablespoon
  • Turmeric, 1 teaspoon
  • Cardamom, 4 pods, gently crushed
  • Cinnamon, 2 sticks
  • Saffron, ~5 strands
  • Coriander, a generous handful, roughly chopped
  • Olive oil, 3 tablespoons
  • Harissa, a squirt
  • Lemon, ½, juiced
  • Frozen peas, a handful
  • Salt + pepper
  • Baking paper

Instructions

Marinade

  1. Take a pan and add the yoghurt, garlic, ginger, cumin, 2 cardamom, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 saffron strands, coriander, olive oil, harissa, lemon juice, olive oil, salt + pepper then stir well to combine the ingredients.
  2. Add the meat and potatoes and stir well.
  3. Pop in the fridge to marinade (ideally the night before, or the morning of the day you want to cook).

Build

  1. Fry the onion until caramelised and set aside.
  2. Take the pan out the fridge and slowly add water to the marinade, mixing as you go. Stop adding water when the marinade is almost level with the contents.
  3. Arrange the meat and potatoes so that the potatoes are at the bottom of the pan with the meat on top: a layer of potato topped with a layer of meat. Set aside.
  4. Rinse the rice well, drain, then add to a pan with 2 cardamom, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 saffron strands, turmeric and salt. Stir well.
  5. Add enough water to cover the rice then put a lid on.
  6. Bring the rice to the boil, then immediately lower the heat and simmer until the water has been absorbed, then remove from the heat. The rice will be predominantly uncooked — that’s fine.
  7. Use a large spoon to carefully place the rice on top of the marinade, then use a fork to evenly (and gently!) distribute: a layer of rice on top of the layer of meat.
  8. Top with the caramelised onion and handful of frozen peas.
  9. Cut a circular piece of baking paper, an inch larger than the pan, place on top, followed by the lid. Press down to form a seal.

Cook!

  1. Cook on a low heat for 2 hours3 then serve like you might a cake.

  1. Pan size is important: you want a pan that will fit the ingredients comfortably (not too big, not too small). 
  2. You can use any meat you fancy. I’ve used this recipe with chicken thighs, lamb chops, etc. 
  3. When cooking this recipe, you want the potato to get a bit crispy on the bottom, without burning. I find cooking it on a low heat for a longer amount of time more fault tolerant.