Lahore lamb biryani

Madhur Jaffrey loves Saleem Zahids Lahore lamb biryani recipe, rich with spices, ginger and garlic
Lahore lamb biryani
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 6-8
  • Cook Time: 1.9166666666666667 hours 55 minutes
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes plus soaking
  • Effort: easy


  • 250 ml olive oil, or sunflower oil
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 3 cassia leaves, or bay leaves
  • 5 cm cassia bark, or cinnamon stick
  • 8-10 black peppercorns
  • 7-8 cloves
  • 1 pod black cardamom, lightly crushed
  • 6-7 pods green cardamom, lightly crushed
  • 1 tsp garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp root ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 450 g boneless lamb, from the shoulder or neck, cut into 2.5cm - 4cm pieces
  • 3 medium onions, chopped
  • 500 ml yogurt, lightly beaten until smooth
  • 4 hot green chillies, cut into 1cm segments
  • handful coriander leaves, chopped
  • 2 dried aloo Bukhara Persian prunes, (optional)
  • 450 g basmati rice
  • 1 pinch ground saffron
  • 1 capful rose water, or kewda water


1. Put the oil and ghee in a heavy-based 25cm pan on a medium-high heat. When hot, add the cassia leaves (or bay leaves) and cassia bark (or cinnamon sticks), peppercorns, cloves and both types of cardamom pods. Stir a few times and add the garlic and ginger. Stir once or twice, then add the meat. Stir and fry the meat for about 5 minutes, or until it is lightly browned.

2. Add the onions. Keep stirring, still over a medium-high heat, for about five minutes, or until the onions have softened.

3. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the yogurt. Add the green chillies, coriander leaves, a teaspoon of salt and the prunes, if using. Keep stirring and bring to a vigorous simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover partially and cook, stirring now and then, for 25 minutes.

4. Uncover, stir and cook for another 10-15 minutes, or until the sauce is very thick and paste-like and the oil separates from the meat. Cover and set aside.

5. Preheat the oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2. Rinse the rice in several changes of water, then leave to soak in plenty of fresh water for 15-20 minutes. Drain and leave in the strainer.

6. Bring about 5 litres of water to a boil in a large pot. When it is boiling rapidly, add 4 teaspoons of salt and stir. Set a colander in the sink.

7. Add the rice to the boiling water. Stir to separate the grains, cover partially and return to a boil. Boil the rice for 5-6 minutes, or until a grain, when pressed hard between the fingers, has only a thin hard core at the centre and breaks into two or three pieces. Drain and leave in the colander.

8. Tilt the pot of meat and spoon out all the fat and oil into a small bowl. Pour half of this oil into a heavy-based 25cm ovenproof pan that has a tight-fitting lid, and spread it out.

9. Spread half the rice over the oil. Spoon all the meat over the rice. Sprinkle the saffron over the meat. Spread the remaining rice over the meat and then the remaining oil over the top of everything. End with the kewda water, sprinkling it over the top.

10. Cover tightly with foil and then the lid and place in the centre of the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through. Mix very gently with a slotted spoon before serving.

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