I am not sure what could be a better choice than a simple and easy to make biryani dish. Biryanis are sensational in terms of flavour and make such a quick dinner, lunch, potluck or are a quick fix when guests announce a short noticed visit.
Biryani, in general, brings me joy, but lamb biryani, oh lamb biryani is something at a different level, it is one of those dishes that you want to make over and over again and never have enough of it.
I do like to go with my dishes as close as possible to their authenticity as possible but saving some time (generally by cutting some healthier corners) it's what contemporary cooking its all about. I am sorry for those that think my dish isn't the dish but i don't waste any minute frying stuff and cooking anything for too long it'a total waste of ....life, energy and resources!
My seven principles when it comes to cooking in general:
- think nutrition and wholesomeness!
- no need to fry!
- no need to add oil when cooking with meat!
- get adventurous and have fun!
- eat the rainbow every day!
- always eat sustainably!
- never waste food!
What is lamb biryani?
Firstly, it is one heck of a delicious dish but other than that biryani is a one-pot dish that originates in South Asia in which meat like lamb, chicken, beef, mutton, goat or seafood, or a mixture of vegetables is layered with rice. The actual layering technique is what differentiates biryani from other rice dishes, like pulao, pilau or a pilaf making it so special.
Ways of cooking biryani
There are a few ways to prepare or cook a lamb biryani or any other meat biryani. Some prefer to add the raw meat to the rice and cook together, others prefer to cook the meat separately and this is my preferred option.
But, no matter which method is used, aromas infuse beautifully into the meat and the rice with the help of a great number of spices herbs, seeds that are used along with saffron and turmeric which add bright yellow and orange colour tones to that graciously long grains of basmati rice. The result is a super delicious aromatic, beautifully coloured to die for meat and rice dish.
Variations of biryani
There are plenty of varieties of biryani depending on the country, regions and households where this is cooked. To be quite frank, in my household alone, no biryani is ever the same. Once because I never follow an exact recipe, secondly because it depends on ingredients I happen to have in my fridge/pantry but mainly because I love to experience different spices and I always change the amounts. The sky is the limit when it comes to a lamb biryani recipe or any biryani dish in general.
So do not feel in any way upset or frustrated if you do not happen to have some of the ingredients, just feel free to experiment with whatever spices and ingredients you have and think might work with this dish and just go for it.
Ways to cook lamb biryani
There are obviously various ways to cook a lamb biryani dish :
- on the stove
- in a pressure cooker
- in a slow cooker
- in an instant pot
- in the oven
How to make lamb biryani?
- Marinade the meat by mix the yoghurt, garlic, ginger, salt until combined, pour the yoghurt mixture over the lamb, seal in a zip bag. Ideally, marinate it overnight.
- In a Dutch oven or saucepan with a heavy bottom cook or caramelise (if you like) the seasoned onions on medium heat. Add more spices ( see recipe card for more details).
- Add the lamb to the onions add the water, cover with a lid, and cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lamb is completely tender.
- While the lamb cooks, prepare the rice by place it in a strainer and rinse under cold running water until the water is clear. Allow it to drain well. Partially cook the rice for 2 minutes and then strain discarding the water.
- Spread the rice out in an even layer over the meat and bake.
What ingredients do I need for lamb biryani?
There are quite a few ingredients that you may need in the pantry apart from the rice and meat but as I said a little below, the sky is the limit and this is the beauty of a biryani dish.
- boneless leg of lamb, trimmed of any excess fat and cut into cubes
- Greek-style yoghurt
- fresh ginger
- salt and pepper
- cardamom pods or powder
- cinnamon stick
- bay leaves
- garam masala
- ground turmeric
- water or low-sodium stock (lamb, beef, or vegetable)
- basmati rice
- fresh lemon or lime juice
- fresh cilantro or coriander
- fresh mint leaves
- green chilli
Make your biryani a healthier option.
Well, yes! Why not? I know that ghee will make it a little nicer, extra salt will do that too but why not cut into certain unhealthy ingredients and make it a healthy biryani dish too that you will not feel so guilty having.
If you know me (as a friend, if you are a huge fan of Ramona's Cuisine) you will know I have a passion for cutting the unhealthy corners whenever possible and I always say that there is absolutely no point in adding any oil or extra fats to a meat dish!
Absolutely pointless and trust me, once you get used this way you will not miss it, in fact, you will not even notice a difference! I know ghee or butter ads a little to the flavour of your dish but if you skip it, it won't be missed but you will definitely cut on hundreds of unnecessary calories. Take my word and turn your cooking into wholesomeness and healthy heaven.
Reheat it well and thoroughly and serve it with one of the suggested go well with dishes below.
The best way to reheat a meat biryani is to use the microwave. Heat the biryani, take out for a minute and then stir it around, allow it to rest and then heat it again.
This is the best protocol to guarantee that all of it is heated through and any bacteria that may have formed is killed off with the high heat.
When choosing the cut to make a good old lamb biryani it's good to bear in mind to add some bones too. Just count them on the way in to know how many you need to find at the end and take out.
The addition of some bones it's terrific and how these add to its favour. I love bones personally and do not have a problem with finding these in my biryani but if you don't, simply fish them out at the end when serving.
In terms of what parts of the lamb or mutton you could use, use any!
I have used lamb shoulder, lamb leg, even lamb neck the fillets or the actual bony part.
Here is more on lamb, how to choose the best lamb, how to store lamb meat and other useful tips.
• Biryanis can be embellished with various toppings, including quartered or halved hard-boiled eggs, just like I love doing it, toasted or fried nuts like almonds, cashew or macadamia, chunks of fried potatoes, or caramelised red onions.
• A biryani especially if spicy is best served with a cooling and refreshing raita which is a yoghurt sauce made with cucumber, mint and cilantro.
• We also love it with a delicious dhal, it is so good and packed with protein and nourishing ingredients.
Lamb biryani is best served immediately, but if you want or need to make ahead, it needs to be kept in an airtight container for up to one week in the refrigerator or 3 weeks in the freezer.
• Using a microwave - it is probably the quickest way to reheat it.
Heat the biryani for a minute, stir it and allow it to rest for 1 min, then heat it again. This way the biryani is heated through and if any bacteria, it will get killed off completely with that high heat.
• On the stove - stir fry it by adding a splash of water and heat it covered until it has heated throughout. While stir-frying with the help of a spatula break any clamps if any.
Adding water is very important as the water gives it the much-needed moisture.
• In the oven - again a good way to heat it up as it allows your lamb biryani to be evenly heated all throughout and helps the rice and lamb to be moist and tender.
Spread your rice in an oven-proof dish, break any clumps (if any) using a fork and add a splash of water.
Heat the biryani at 180℃ 350F for 10 - 15 until your rice is piping hot all throughout.
Other dishes that will go well with this lamb biryani dish:
- Red lentil dhal with coconut milk and quail eggs
- Delicious and super healthy lamb curry
- Spicy lamb koftas and-salad-boats
- Lamb pita pocket sandwich
Lets get cooking!
Superb Lamb Biryani with Quail Eggs
- Dutch oven
- chopping board
- mortar and pestle
- 900 g lamb meat (2 lb or 4 cups) add some bones too, trim the meat of any excess fat and cut into 2cm (1 inch) cubes
- 400 g basmati rice (2.1 cups/ 14.1 oz )
- 250 ml stock or water chicken, lamb, beef or vegetable stock (low sodium)
- 250 ml yoghurt (approx 1 cup) plain Greek Style (min 2 % fat)
- 12 large quail eggs boiled for 2 min
- 2 large onions ( at least 500g /1.1 lb) thinly sliced
- 4 pods cardamom or 1/4 tsp powder
- 4 cloves garlic crushed/ minced
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger grated
- 2 tsp salt Kosher or pink Himalayan
- 2 tbsp olive oil ghee or butter
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 3 cloves
- 2 small bay leaves fresh or dried
- 1/3 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp gram masala homemade or bought
- 2 med lemons juiced
- 10 tbsp coriander/ cilantro
- 4 tbsp mint fresh
- 1/2 tsp black pepper freshly ground
- 10-15 curry leaves fresh (optional)
- Place the lamb chunks - bones including (if any) in a large bowl. Add the yoghurt, minced garlic, grated ginger, 2 tbsp lemon juice and 1 tsp of salt. Mix well until well coated. You may transfer this into a zip bag or you may keep in the same bowl but you will need to cover with cling film and refrigerate for a min of two hours or even overnight.
- Place a Dutch oven over medium/high heat, add the olive oil, add the onions, 1/2 tsp of salt, and sautee, stirring occasionally, until the onions have cooked and all juices have run out ( this may take 20-25 min). If you wish to caramelize the onions, keep on cooking them for a further 15-20 min until they have turned brown. I personally don't do this but only sometimes with a fraction of them to add over the rice.
- Reduce the heat to low, remove some of the cooked/caramelised onions and reserve to use as a garnish at the end. Add 2 cardamom pods, the cinnamon stick, the 3 cloves, the bay leaves, curry leaves, garam masala and the turmeric. Cook for 30 - 40 seconds until all spices are releasing seriously good smelling scents. Oh my! The fragrances!
- Add the marinated lamb along with the stock or water, part of the cilantro, 1/2 of the chopped mint, and green chilli. Increase the heat to medium-high, and bring the liquids to a boil and when it begins to boil, reduce the heat to low. Cover with a lid, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lamb is completely tender. Remove the lid and reduce the liquid further.
- While the lamb is cooking beautifully, let's prepare the rice. by placing this into a colander and rinse with running cold running water, until the runoff is no longer cloudy. Let it drain well then place it into a bowl and cover with approximately 4 cups (1l) water. Let it soak for about 30 minutes and then strain it and discard the water this soaked into.
- Preheat the oven at this point at 180°C or 350°F and place the rack in a position that would place the Duch oven right in the middle of the oven. Boil the quail eggs for 1 min (soft) to 3 min for hard-boiled. Add them into the boiling water.
- In a large pan, combine rice with 4 cups cold water, lemon juice, the remaining 1 tsp salt, the remaining cardamom pod, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 2 minutes and then strain the rice. We need the rice to be partially cooked with an opaque inner ring if you were to break a grain.
- When the lamb is nicely cooked and tender and the liquid has reduced, remove from the heat. Using a wooden spoon or a spatula, spread the rice out evenly over the meat in the Dutch oven.
- Garnish the top of the biryani with the reserved (caramelized) onions. Cover the Dutch oven with its lid and place it in the preheated oven. Allow it to cook for 20 minutes or so. Remove from the oven and set aside for 5 minutes. Use a wooden fork to loosen the rice and serve immediately straight into the serving plates or this can be transferred to a large serving platter. Garnish with the boiled quailed eggs and the remaining fresh mint and cilantro. I have used some curry leaves as these are very pretty.