I had the most exquisite lunch while visiting my family in Beirut! A friend of mine made this amazing biryani – she knows my love affair with Indian food! A fragrant rice with a hearty combination of spices, meat and potatoes, steaming them together by forming layers of each and sprinkling the top with caramelized onions! A complete meal in itself!
There are various types of biryani and I guess almost each state of India has a biryani recipe. Biryani has been introduced to the Middle East by the large Indian diaspora there.
I bet the dish suits the weather that is moving from the heat of summer to the cool of Autumn. But beware it is a bit time-consuming! I don’t expect you to do this on a busy day! Just keep it for major holidays or special occasions – but I urge you to do it one day if you haven’t done it before!
The technique of making the dish is a bit different from any other rice pilaf. You boil the rice in plenty of water for 12 minutes then drain. The rice then will belayered with the stewed spicy meat and fried potatoes, steaming them together and unevenly drizzling the rice with saffron strands soaked in rose water! Absolutely tasty and lots of complex of flavors!
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 1 kg/2 lb. 4 oz. boneless lamb chunks
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 11/2 tablespoon ginger pulp, peeled and grated
- 3 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into medium-sized chunks
- 2 cups canola oil, to deep fry the potatoes
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- 1/3 cup ghee or canola oil
- 5 heaped tablespoons plain yogurt
- 2 medium-sized tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
- 11/2 tablespoons saffron strands
- 1/3 cup rose water
- 2 large onions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground fennels
- ½ teaspoon ground cilantro/coriander
- 8 cups water, to boil the rice
- 1 cup of hot water, to cook the meat
- 1 teaspoon salt, to marinate the meat
- 11/2 tablespoons salt, to cook the rice
- 1 cup sultanas, optional
- First off you need to marinate the meat: In a large ceramic bowl, mix the yogurt, salt, ginger, tomato paste and spices. Add the lamb chunks and stir well. Marinate overnight or for a minimum of 5 hours.
- Soak the rice in cold water for 30 minutes and drain.
- Heat the ghee or oil in a large pot and fry the onions to a brown color. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- To same pot add the chopped tomatoes and stir for a few minutes until the tomatoes are wilted. Add the marinated meat and sauté the meat for about 4-5 minutes over medium heat. Add the 1 cup of hot water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to very low, cover the pot and let the meat cook for about 11/4 hours.
- Put the saffron strands in a small bowl and cover with the rose water.
- In the meantime prepare the rice: In a pan bring the 8 cups of water to a boil and add the rice and salt. Cook the rice (uncovered) for 12 minutes (al dente). Drain any excess water.
- Heat the 2 cups of canola oil in saucepan and fry the potato cubes to a golden color. Drain on paper towels.
- Prepare a large pot, spoon half of the cooked meat and gravy and half of the fried potatoes in the bottom of the pot and sprinkle half of the sultanas evenly on top. Layer half of the rice evenly over the meat and potatoes. Dribble half of the saffron-rose water randomly on top of the rice. Repeat until the lamb, potatoes, and raisins are used up and make sure the top layer is rice. Drizzle the remaining saffron-rose water.
- Cover the pot and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, allowing the flavors to infuse together. Garnish with the browned onions. Serve warm! Can be topped with roasted cashews! How delicious!!
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