This recipe is a part of a complete Pakistani-style Eid lunch, traditionally eaten at the end of Ramadan, to close out the holy month of fasting. Find the entire menu here.
Heat some oil in a medium-sized pan.
Add chopped onions, and sauté until they caramelize and brown.
Add the remaining 3/4 of the onions to a bowl with the rest of the marinade ingredients — and mix well.
Then cover and refrigerate overnight, or at least 4 hours.
Brown the meat for 7 to10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add 1/2 cup water.
Cover and cook on really low heat — so the mixture is barely simmering — for 1½ to 2 hours.
In the meantime, soak the rice for 30 minutes, then drain.
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil and add the rice.
Back to the meat. Here's what it looked like for me 1½ hours into simmering.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Layer one: half the lamb (which is already in the pot it was cooked in), half the rice, chopped mint, chopped cilantro, fried onions, milk, and a few pinches of garam masala.
Finish it off in the oven...
...AANNNDDD WE'RE DONE!!!
After opening the lid, fluff up the rice and mess up some of the layers so the masala and meat are more evenly distributed.
It should look like this:
Before serving, garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with raita.
For the lamb marinade:
1 1/2 pounds trimmed boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon garlic paste
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
3/4 cup chopped mint
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup yogurt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 to 3 Thai chiles, minced
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
For the rice:
2 cups basmati rice
5 black peppercorns, whole
2 cloves, whole
2 green cardamom pods
1 two-inch cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon salt
For the assembly:
3 tablespoons mint, chopped
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
Wash and soak the rice.
Marinate the lamb:
Add a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil to a large non-stick frying pan (or similar) and fry the onions on medium heat until golden brown. Don't worry about burning the onions, the biryani will still taste pretty good (some would say better) with slightly burnt onions. Cool the onions. Add three quarters to a large bowl. Reserve a third for assembly. Add the rest of the ingredients for the marinade to the onions in the large bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or at least 4 hours.
Cook off the lamb:
In a large pot heat a couple of tablespoons of oil. Add the lamb and cook on moderate to high heat stirring occasionally until the meat is brown on all sides, likely in 10 to 15 minutes. Add half a cup of water, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot and let the lamb cook on low heat for 1½to 2 hours.
Parboil the rice:
If you remembered to soak the rice, drain it now. In a large saucepan, boil 4 cups of water. Add the rice*, peppercorns, cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, stir occasionally until the rice is cooked three-quarters of the way. Drain the rice.
*I normally leave whole spices in my rice but if they bother you, bundle the spices up in a piece of muslin, tie it with a string, and remove the bundle after the rice is done.
Assemble the biryani:
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Reserve roughly half of the cooked lamb. In the pot you cooked the meat in that now has half the lamb mix, add half the rice. Top with some of the reserved onions, 1½ tablespoons of chopped cilantro, 1½ tablespoons of chopped mint, and a quarter cup of milk. This is your first layer. Add the rest of the lamb and make your second layer with the same ingredients. Cover and cook the rest of the biryani in the oven for 20 minutes. Let the biryani rest for 10 minutes.