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Lamb biryani

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Adjust Servings:
125ml natural yoghurt (0% fat)
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
500g lamb neck, trimmed of fat and cut into chunks
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
2 white onions, finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2 tbsp tikka curry paste
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
350ml lamb stock
8 dried curry leaves
1 mug brown basmati rice
3 mugs vegetable stock
1 cinnamon stick
2 cardamon pods
2 dried bay leaves
75ml semi-skimmed milk
Pinch of saffron
75g raisins
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1/2 lemon, zested
1 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
2 tbsp pomegranate seeds
25g cashew nuts, toasted

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Lamb biryani

This is very much a hands-on recipe, made in three parts, but the flavour is incredible. Slow cooking the lamb curry adds a wonderful depth of flavour to the biriyani, which has a hidden layer of dried fruit, grated carrots and caramelised onions. If using white basmati rice, just simmer for half the time specified.

  • Spicy
  • 2+ Hours
  • Serves 4
  • Medium







  1.  For the marinade, place the yoghurt in a bowl and mix together with the coriander, cumin, garam masala, cayenne pepper, turmeric, smoked paprika, lemon juice and garlic.

  2. Add the lamb chunks to the spiced yoghurt and coat well. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight.

  3. Rinse the rice in a bowl of cold water, using your hands to gently move the grains around. Change the water several times until the water runs clear, then leave to soak while you assemble the remaining ingredients.

  4. Remove the marinated lamb from the fridge and heat the olive oil in a large, heavy based frying pan with a tight-fitting lid.

  5. Add the onions and turn the heat down to low. Cook the onions for 30 minutes, stirring regularly, until well caramelised. Remove half and set aside.

  6. Add the lamb to the pan, in batches if necessary, and brown over a medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, ginger, chilli, tikka curry paste, cumin seeds and turmeric to the pan and cook for 2 minutes more.

  7. Pour in the stock with the curry leaves and any leftover marinade and mix well. Cover with a lid and leave to blip away gently over a low heat for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced and thickened.

  8. After 1 hour, add the rice to a saucepan and toast over a medium heat for 1 minute. Pour in the vegetable stock with a pinch of salt, the cinnamon stick, cardamon pods and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook gently for 15-18 minutes until just al dente.

  9. Drain the rice, if necessary, and spread out on a plate to steam dry. Discard the cardamon pods, cinnamon stick and bay leaves.

  10. Meanwhile, place the raisins in a glass of water to rehydrate and warm the milk in a small saucepan over a low heat. Add the saffron strands and leave to steep off the heat for 5 minutes. Drain the raisins and set aside.

  11. To layer the biriyani, liberally brush the bottom and sides of a high-sided casserole dish or crock pot with olive oil. Fill with half the rice so the bottom is completely covered, then scatter over the grated carrot, lemon zest and raisins.

  12. Top with the lamb curry and the reserved caramelised onions, followed by the remaining rice. Smooth the top, then use the end of a wooden spoon and make eight small indentations in the rice. Pour over the saffron milk so it is evenly distributed and scatter over the chopped coriander.

  13. Cut a piece of greaseproof paper to fit over the rice and press it down slightly to keep all the rice moist.

  14. Cover the dish with a tight lid of foil, then put the lid on top to ensure it is well sealed. Cook in a preheated oven at 180C for 25 minutes, then leave to stand, covered, for 10 minutes.

  15. Remove the lid and foil and peel the paper off the top. Gently mix the layers together and transfer the biriyani to a large serving platter. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and cashew nuts, if desired, before serving.

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