Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Lamb Biryani with Aubergine Raita

This dish is a little bit elaborate but totally worth the fuss. At least for us spice addicts, flavour and taste are just perfect!

Serves 4:

1kg lamb shoulder, without bone and fat, cubbed
vegetable oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
9 whole green cardamon pods
1/2 teaspoon ground black peppercorns
1 teasp coriander seeds
1 teasp ground coriander
1/4 teas ground clove
1 teasp ground cumin
1/2 teasp chilli powder
1 teasp grated ginger
2 teasp salt
3 garlic cloves, mashed
juice of 1 lemon (about 40ml)
200ml yoghurt
1 teasp garam masala
2 tablsp fresh chopped coriander
275g basmati or jasmin rice
2-3 whole cloves
5cm piece cinnamon stick
1 teasp turmeric (or saffron if possible)
50ml milk
2 bay leaves
a handfull of sliced almonds

Aubergine Raita:
3 small aubergines (japanese size)
300ml yoghurt
a pinch of salt
a pinch of ground cumin
dried coriander to decorate

In a wok or a frying pan, brown the meat on every side in a little bit of oil, and set aside.
In a wok, deep fry the onions, in 3-4 batches on low/medium heat. It will take about 10min per batch, they should have a nice golden colour without getting dark brown. Set them aside on a plate overlaid with absorbing kitchen paper.
Grind 5 cardamon pods, the peppercorns and coriander seeds with pestle and mortar. Combine with ground coriander, ground clove, ground cumin, chilli powder, ginger.
In a large pan, heat up a few tablespoons of oil. Add the spice mix on low heat and fry for a couple of minutes. Add half of the fried onions and continue stirring for a minute. Add the lamb meat, garlic and salt and mix well, let it get coated with all the spices for a few minutes. Add the lemon juice, and water to cover up the meat. Let it go back to sizzling and remove the impurities that come up to the surface. Cook for a further 5 minutes and remove from the heat.
Incorporate the yoghurt, 1 tablespoon a time, mixing well inbetween each tablespoon. Put back on low heat and let the curry simmer for two hours, until the lamb is very tender.
Add the fresh coriander and garam masala, mix well, cover and let it rest for 30min at room temperature to develop the flavour.
Preheat the oven to 180 degreesC.
Meanwhile, wash the rice in cold water and soak it for 30min. Boil a large amount of water, add 2 teaspoons of salt, 4 whole cardamon pods, 2-3 whole cloves, the cinnamon stick, and boil the rice for 5 minutes. Drain the water, and keep the rice warm (with the whole spices) and covered.
Dilute the turmeric in milk and set aside.
Set up the Biryani. My alsacian claypot terrine work well for that, otherwise a large pot with tight lid will also do. Start with a layer of meat (half of the lamb) with 2-3 tablespoons of the curry sauce. Overlay with half of the remaining fried onions, and half of the rice. Drizzle half of the turmeric-milk over the rice.
Continue layering with the other half of the meat, fried onions, rice, turmeric milk.
Pour 100ml of the curry sauce, top with two bay leaves, cover, and bake for 30min at 180 degreesC.
Meanwhile, roast the almonds in a dry frying pan for a few minutes until they get some colour, and set aside.
Serve the Biryani strait from the clay pot, with an aubergine raita and topping of almonds.

Aubergine Raita:
Wash and cut the small aubergines in half (longitudinal) and put then under a grill until the flesh softens and can be scooped with a spoon. Collect the flesh and homogenize it in a blender. Let it cool down and add yoghurt, a pinch of salt and ground cumin and put in the fridge until serving. Decorate with dried coriander.

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