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Lamb Biryani

Lamb Biryani

Our quick version of this usually labor-intensive Indian rice dish is intricately spiced and irresistibly delicious. Don't let the long ingredient list put you off; almost everything is a pantry staple. Indian cooks leave the whole cloves and pieces of cinnamon in when serving, but of course they don't eat them. Fish these spices out before serving if you prefer.

Food & Wine JANUARY 1997

  • Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 pound boneless lamb, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, cut into thin slices
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom or ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 5 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain rice, preferably basmati
  • 2 3/4 cups water
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup chopped cashews

Preparation

- QFS1. In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt with the garlic, cayenne, cumin, black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Stir in the lamb.

2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat. Add the onion and cook until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cardamom, turmeric, cloves, cinnamon, rice, and the remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons salt. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

3. Add the lamb mixture to the pan. Stir in the water and raisins. Bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer until the rice and lamb are almost done, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat. Let stand, covered, until the rice and lamb are just done, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cashews.

Variation: Other nuts, such as almonds or pistachios, can easily stand in for the cashews.

Wine Recommendation: The spices here immediately indicate a zinfandel from Napa or Sonoma, classic examples of which are redolent of the very same spices. The full body of these wines will match the intensity of the biryani nicely.

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Lamb Biryani recipe

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