Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mains Collection: Lamb Biryani - so spicy and flavourful!

For whatever reason, I never was a great fan of Biryani Rice (Indian style flavoured rice) although it is one of lots of people in Malaysia's favourite food and possibly around the world as well!  If it is serve and placed on the dinner table, I usually never have any of it.  However, in the recent Sept 2010 issue of the masterchef magazine, the Lamb Biryani recipe caught my attention, as there is something challenging about it that made me really want to give it a go at cooking it.   OMG, the outcome was great and the longer one keeps it, the more flavourful it gets.  It freezes well too.  A warning though, takes about 4 hours to complete the whole process but was definitely worth while and was a great satisfaction.  I have not tried it but I believe the lamb curry bit, if braised longer than the recipe time, you could end up with a great lamb curry dish (am going to give it a try the next time around)!  Anyways, for those patient cooks out there, below is the recipe.  For me cooking is a stress reliever, this whole process has definitely took my mind off work for a while!

Lamb Biryani
(Adapted from Sept 2010 issue of Masterchef Australia Magazine)
60 ml (1/4 cup milk)
1/2 tsp saffron threads
5 onions
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 cm piece ginger, finely chopped
2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp chilli powder
2 1/2 tsp garam marsala
1 1/2 tbs tomato paste
280g (1 cup) Greek-style yoghurt
1.2 kg boneless leg of lamb, trimmed, cut into 2 cm pieces
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
50 g (1/2 cup) raisins
45 g (1/3 cup) pistachios
Coriander leaves, to serve

[Notes:  Although recipe called for ghee, I did not use it.  Instead used grape seed oil.  Still taste good. Also, if you have a big wok like me, I had use just the one wok for the whole process without washing them in between processes instead of using different pans as stated in the methods below.  Only extra pan I used is at step 7 for the raisins and pistachio mixture.]

1) Place milk in a bowl and sprinkle with saffron.  Cover with plastic wrap, then set aside at room temperature until needed.

2) Finely chop 1 onion, then process with garlic and ginger in a food processor to a paste.  Add turmeric, chilli powder, garam marsala, tomato paste and yoghurt, and process until combined.  Transfer marinade to a bowl, add lamb, then stir well to coat.  Cover.  Set aside to marinade at room temperature for 30 minutes.

3) 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.

4) Halve, then thinly slice the remaining 4 onions.  Heat 125 ml (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.

5) 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, cardamon, 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.

6) Simmer the remaining liquid in pan over medium-high heat for 10 minutes or until thickened, skimming oil.  Stir into the lamb mixture.  Season. 

7) 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.

8) 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.

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