Lamb pulao biryani

Cyrus Todiwala's traditional curry recipe, adapted for todays cook, is great for serving to a crowd
By Cyrus Todiwala
Lamb pulao biryani
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 8
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Effort: medium


  • 1 kg boned leg of lamb, cut in 2.5cm dice
  • 500 g natural yogurt
  • 1 kg basmati rice
  • 20 g salt
  • about 200 g ghee
  • 1 g saffron, or a good pinch
  • 1 lime, juice only
  • 3 onions, thinly sliced
  • 20 g chawal no masalo - cassia bark, cloves, green cardamom and bay leaves, or whole garam masala
  • 1/2 nutmeg, grated
  • 5 g mace
  • 2.5 g caraway seeds
  • 125 g flaked almonds
  • 125 g sultanas
  • handful chopped mint
  • handful chopped coriander
  • 100 ml lamb stock, or water
  • 2-3 tomatoes, diced

To serve

  • 8 boiled eggs, sliced into quarters
  • mint leaves

Tips and Suggestions

This is a 110 year old recipe and has been altered a bit, just to suit todays lifestyle and way of cooking. However none of the ingredients have been changed or added to.


1. Place the lamb in a saucepan and pour over enough water to cover it. Simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes or until the lamb is tender and the water is almost dry. Drain the water and set the lamb aside. Blend the yogurt into the lamb.

2. While the lamb is cooking, pour about 2 litres of water in another saucepan. Put in a good blob of the ghee and bring to the boil. Wash the rice in a sieve then put it in the boiling water with the salt. When the rice is almost cooked to al denté, drain it in a colander. Warm the saffron then pour in the lime juice. Sprinkle it over the boiled rice.

3. Preheat the oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2.

4. To make the masala, put 150g of the ghee in a saucepan, tip in the onions and and fry until browned. Remove the onions, keeping the oil in the pan. Stir in the whole garam masala, the grated nutmeg, mace and caraway seeds, then cook until smelling fragrant. Mix in the almonds and the sultanas and fry until golden. Return three quarters of the onions to the pan and mix together.

6. Stir the lamb and yogurt into the masala, then the chopped herbs. Brush a large heavy-based casserole dish with a little ghee and alternate the lamb mix with the rice in layers in the dish. Pour over the stock or about 100ml of water and top with the remaining onions. Bake for about 1 hour, until well heated through.

7. Serve garnished with the boiled egg and mint leaves, with the daal on the side.

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