This dish is based on the pukki (cooked) style of biryani from the Indian city of Hyderabad, where goat is the preferred meat. We've used lamb, as it's more readily available and just as delicious.
60ml (1/4 cup) milk
1/2 tsp saffron threads
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6cm piece ginger, peeled, chopped
2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp chilli powder
2 1/2 tsp garam masala
1 1/2 tbs tomato paste
280g (1 cup) Greek-style yoghurt
1.2kg boneless leg of lamb, trimmed, cut into 2cm pieces (see note)
200g ghee, melted
450g (2 1/2 cups) basmati rice, rinsed, drained
1 1/2 tsp cloves
10 cardamom pods, bruised
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 cinnamon quill
2 bay leaves
50g (1/3 cup) raisins
45g (1/3 cup) pistachios
Coriander leaves, to serve
Place milk in a bowl and sprinkle with saffron. Cover with plastic wrap, then set aside at room temperature until needed.
Finely chop 1 onion, then process with garlic and ginger in a food processor to a paste. Add turmeric, chilli powder, garam masala, tomato paste and yoghurt, and process until combined. Transfer marinade to a bowl, add lamb, then stir well to coat. Cover. Set aside to marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tbs ghee in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the rice and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes or until heated through. Reduce heat to low. Add 660ml (2 2/3 cups) boiling water, cover with a lid, then cook for 7 minutes or until liquid is absorbed (rice will not be cooked through). Spread over a tray to cool.
Halve, then thinly slice the remaining 4 onions. Heat 125ml (1/2 cup) ghee in a large, heavy-based frying pan over medium–high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, for 35 minutes or until deep golden and caramelised (don’t burn). Using a slotted spoon, remove onions from ghee, draining well. Drain on paper towel. Reserve ghee.
Drain lamb, reserving marinade. Heat 2 tbs reserved ghee in a clean frying pan over medium–high heat. Add half the lamb and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until browned. Transfer to a large saucepan. Add remaining lamb, cloves, cardamom, cumin, cinnamon and bay leaves to frying pan, then cook, stirring, for 4 minutes. Add mixture to lamb in saucepan, then add reserved marinade and cover with water. Press lamb down firmly, ensuring lamb is submerged. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes or until lamb is cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, transfer lamb to a bowl.
Simmer the remaining liquid in pan over medium–high heat for 10 minutes or until thickened, skimming oil. Stir into the lamb mixture. Season.
Preheat oven to 180C. Heat remaining 2 tbs ghee in a frying pan over medium heat. Add raisins and pistachios, and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until pistachios are light golden.
Spread a third of the rice over the base of a 2.5L (10-cup) ovenproof dish. Layer with half the lamb mixture, spread over another third of rice, then layer with remaining lamb. Top with remaining rice and scatter over onions and pistachio mixture. Drizzle with saffron mixture, cover tightly with foil and bake for 40 minutes until rice is cooked and lamb is tender. Scatter with coriander to serve.
Substitute boneless leg of goat, if desired. Available from selected butchers.
MasterChef - September 2010
Recipe by Leanne Kitchen