Curry Night #08 Rick Stein's Lamb Biryani Recipe

Biryani is another curry dish that is always a winner in my book; fragrant rice mixed with vegetables and melt in the mouth meat and often served with a side of vegetable curry. This recipe is from Rick Steins Far Eastern Odyssey book, and is a recipe perfect for a dinner party but needs a lot of preparation. It takes a whole afternoon to cook, but with little actual hands on time and is perfect for freezing leftovers and using as lunches or quick dinners.
Ingredients (Serves 8)
For the lamb
20 green cardamom pods
10 cloves
2 x 10cm cinnamon sticks
4 pieces of blade mace
2 dried chillies
350g natural yogurt
50g ginger, grated
1 tsp ground pepper
1kg lamb chops 
2 tbsp blanched almonds
 For the rice
1/2 tsp saffron strands
3 tbsp rose water
600g rice
1 tsp cumin seeds
8 green cardamom pods
12 cloves
75g ghee
24 small dried prunes
4 tbsp sultanas
Fried shallots
250ml milk
For the lamb, put the cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon and mace into a pestle and mortar and grind to a fine powder. Add the chillies and blend until finely chopped. Put  the yogurt in a bowl and stir in the spices, ginger, pepper and 2 teaspoons of salt. Add the lamb and marinate for 2 hours.

For the rice, put the saffron into a clean mortar and crush it into a powder. Stir in the rose water and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 200c. Put the almonds into a bowl and cover with water. Leave to soak for 30mins then cut into long shards. Spread onto a baking tray and roast for 6-8 minutes.
Reduce the heat to 160c. To assemble the biryani, put 4 litres of water into a large pan with cumin seeds, cardamom pods, cloves and 4 tsp salt and bring to the boil. Meanwhile, melt the ghee in a large casserole dish. Spread the meat and marinade over the base and sprinkle over the prunes, sultanas, and crispy shallots. Sprinkle the rice into the boiling water, bring to a boil for 3 minutes. Drain, then spread the rice over the meat and drizzles half the saffron water. Spread the remaining rice and rosewater. Pour over the milk and cover the pan with foil then a lid. Please over a medium-high heat and bring to the boil, then transfer to the oven for 1 3/4 hours.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the almonds and serve.
This dish is definitely worth the wait, and after the smell wafts around the kitchen, you will be eager to dig in. Unlike similar dishes I have eaten at restaurants or had for takeaways, there is little veg included, and I think next time I make it, I would add green beans, peas or other veg. It can be quite dry, but teamed with chutneys or even a vegetable curry on the side works really well.

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