Special lamb biryani served in a casserole dish

Special lamb biryani

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(4 ratings)

Prep: 25 mins Cook: 2 hrs Plus marinating

More effort

Serves 4-5

Classically, Indian biryani is cooked in a 'dum', a clay pot sealed with dough. Try this lamb version with a pastry lid that releases the aromas when you break into it

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable

Nutrition: Per serving (5)

  • kcal988
  • fat61g
  • saturates28g
  • carbs76g
  • sugars11g
  • fibre7g
  • protein31g
  • salt1.2g
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  • 500g lamb neck or shoulder, chopped into small chunks
  • 3 tbsp Indian spice mix, plus a pinch (see below)
  • 100g yogurt, plus extra to serve



    Yogurt is made by adding a number of types of harmless bacteria to milk, causing it to ferment.…

  • ½ lemon, juiced



    Oval in shape with a pronouced bulge on one end, lemons are one of the most versatile…

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, halved and sliced



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • 300g basmati rice
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • thumb-sized piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped



    Mainly grown in Jamaica, Africa, India, China and Australia, ginger is the root of the plant. It…

  • 4 plum tomatoes, chopped or 200g can chopped tomatoes
  • good pinch saffron



    The stigma of a type of crocus, saffron threads have a pungent and distinctive aroma and flavour…

  • 100g butter



    Butter is a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 4 bay or 6 curry leaves
  • 2 star anise
    Star anise

    Star anise

    star an-eese

    Star anise is one of the central spices in Chinese cooking. It has a strong anise flavour, with…

  • 320g sheet ready-rolled puff pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten



    The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition packed with protein and a…

  • 2 tsp nigella seeds
  • handful chopped coriander or mint
  • 1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced

For the Indian spice mix

  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp mild chilli powder (kashmiri chilli powder if you can find it)
  • 2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
    Fennel seeds

    Fennel seeds

    feh-nell seeds

    A dried seed that comes from the fennel herb, fennel seeds look like cumin seeds, only greener,…

  • 1 tsp ground turmeric



    Turmeric is a fragrant, bright golden-yellow root that is most commonly seen and used dried and…

  • 10 cardamom pods, seeds removed and pods discarded


  1. Mix the lamb with the spice blend, yogurt, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Leave at room temperature for at least 30 mins or chill overnight.

  2. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large frying pan and cook the onions over a low-medium heat for 15-20 mins until caramelised. Meanwhile, rinse the rice three times under cold water. Drain, then cover with fresh water and leave for 30 mins.

  3. Transfer the onions to a bowl, add the remaining oil to the pan and brown the lamb in batches. If the marinade starts to catch, scrape it from the bottom of the pan and keep stirring – it’ll add to the flavour. Tip the meat back into the pan with the garlic and ginger. Cook for another minute or 2, then add the tomatoes and 200ml water (swill the water around the dish the lamb was marinating in to pick up all the marinade before adding it to the pan). Season with salt and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook for 45 mins, stirring now and then and topping up with a splash of water if the sauce is catching. You can now chill the lamb for up to two days.

  4. Pour away the rice water, cover with fresh water and season. Bring to the boil, bubble for 2 mins, then drain and leave to cool. Put the saffron in a bowl, pour over 50ml boiling water and leave for 10 mins to steep.

  5. Smear 50g butter inside a casserole dish. Sprinkle over a little of the Indian spice mix and some salt. To assemble the biryani, start with 1/3 of the lamb, top with 1/3 of the rice, 1/3 of the onions, a cinnamon stick, a couple of cardamom pods, a few bay or curry leaves and a star anise. Repeat until all of the ingredients have been used up. Spoon the saffron and its water over the final layer of rice, dot with the remaining butter and season with salt. You can now chill it for up to 24 hrs.

  6. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Unroll the pastry and cut into a circle a little larger than the dish. Brush a little egg around the outside lip of the dish, then lift the pastry on top, pressing it around the edge to seal. Brush with more egg and sprinkle with nigella seeds. Bake for 45-50 mins until golden brown. Mix the herbs and onion, and serve with the biryani and extra yogurt.

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Comments, questions and tips

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14th Sep, 2018
Love this! I've made it twice so far. I start it on the Monday and finish and eat it on the Thursday. It really is so much better than a takeaway. My partner devours it x
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