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Bangladeshi Lamb Biryani

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This recipe is from my wonderful friend Anzela.  It is entirely different from my family's biryani recipe and uses ingredients that I have never used before such as black cardamon and kewra water (a diluted extract of the fragrant pandanus flower).  Each mouthful has a delicious surprise whether it's a prune, a whole green chilli or a tender piece of lamb.  Despite the long list of instructions it is simple to make - I hope you give it a go.


Serves 8

Ingredients
  • 1 kilogram lamb - cut into medium sized pieces
  • 2 large onions
  • 175 grams unsalted butter
  • 4 medium cinnamon sticks
  • 10 green cardamons
  • 1 heaped tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 10 cloves
  • 0.5 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 3 black cardamons
  • Pinch of  grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground mace
  • 5 teaspoons coriander-cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons chilli powder
  • 375 grams natural yoghurt (not Greek style, not fat-free)
  • 150 millilitres kewra water
  • 3 cloves garlic – peeled and finely chopped
  • 35 grams root ginger – peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 gram saffron
  • 2 tablespoons light tasting vegetable oil
  • 20 baby potatoes – washed
  • 500 grams pitted prunes
  • 8 green chillies – washed
  • 300 grams rice
  • 1.5 tablespoons salt
Method

  1. Wash the meat and leave for an hour to drain thoroughly.
  2. Meanwhile finely chop the onions.
  3. Melt 25 grams of the butter in a pan and fry the onions on a lowish heat until brown and caramelised.  Be patient, this may take a while.
  4. Now add the cinnamon, green cardamons, black peppercorns, cloves, cumin seeds and black cardamons to the onions.  Stir well and let them cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
  5. In a very large pan (let's call it the "biryani pan") add the nutmeg, ground mace, coriander-cumin powder, turmeric, chilli powder, yogurt, 100 millilitres of the kewra water, garlic, ginger, the majority of the saffron (leave a generous pinch to one side) and two tablespoons vegetable oil.  Stir well to create a paste.
  6. Add the onion and whole spice mixture to the pan and stir again.
  7. Dry the lamb with kitchen roll and and add to the yogurt, onion and spice mixture.  Stir well and then cover the pan.  Leave to marinade for a few hours or overnight.
  8. When you are ready to finish cooking the biryani, parboil the potatoes for ten minutes.
  9. Meanwhile add 150g butter to the contents of the biryani pan, cover and start to cook on a high heat stirring regularly to prevent burning.
  10. After 10 minutes, turn the heat on the biryani pan to low.  Drain the par boiled potatoes and add them to the biryani pan along with the prunes and chillis.  Stir, cover the pan and leave to cook for 45 minutes.
  11. Meanwhile, in a glass bowl, infuse the remaining 50 millilitres of kewra water with the rest of the saffron.
  12. Next par-boil the rice.  It should still have a slight crunch to it.   Set to one side.  In case you want detailed instructions then follow the bulleted steps below.
  1. Soak the rice in a microwaveable bowl for 20 minutes.  The bowl should be at least four times the depth of the rice to give the rice room to expand and cook.
  2. You will notice that the water has turned a cloudy white colour.  This is the starch from the rice.  Drain away the water.
  3. Cover the rice with water again.  Stir the rice and watch as the water turns white again.  Drain immediately and then repeat this step a further two times.  The water will still be turning cloudy as there is still starch in the rice but you will have removed a large amount of it.  You do need some starch in the rice to stop it disintegrating.
  4. Now add enough water in the bowl to cover the rice by approximately 1 cm.  Place the bowl in the microwave and cook on the highest setting for 10 minutes.
  5. Now remove the bowl from the microwave.  Most of the water should have boiled off and the rice should have started to expand.  At this point the texture of the rice should be slightly damp and have a slight crunch when you taste it.  If it is very undercooked, return to the microwave for a little longer.  Set to one side.
  1. After the 45 minutes is up add the salt to the meat and stir well.  Oil should have risen to the surface of the meat and it should be fairly tender but not completely cooked. Remove from the heat and leave for 5 minutes.
  2. Now add a third of the rice on top of the meat mixture. Really pack it down tight – the steam that will rise through the meat will finish cooking the rice but you don’t want too much of a gap between the grains.  Do not mix the rice in with the meat mixture.
  3. After adding the first layer of rice, drip some of the kewra-saffron infusion around the rice.  This adds both flavour and colour.
  4. Add the rice in a further two layers with the kewra-saffron infusion in between.  Always ensure that the rice is tightly packed.
  5. Add a piece of foil over the top of the pan and then put the lid on top of that.  This should stop any steam escaping from the pan.
  6. Return the pan to a very high heat, for five minutes.
  7. Then turn the pan down to a low heat and cook for 30 minutes.
  8. Remove from the heat and roughly mix the meat and rice.  The colour of the rice should be quite uneven – white in places, yellow in others, brown in places where the meat has mixed.
  9. Serve with a tomato, red onion and coriander salad.

2 comments:

undererasure said...

I've decided I sincerely wish you were my friend. I like your style of writing and your knowledge of indian cooking is something I envy - and you love Firefly! Best wishes, just keep doing what you are doing!

Reena said...

Hi Undererasure. Thank you for the lovely comment. I'm happy to have a fellow Firefly fan as a friend! Have a great weekend. Reena

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