This is similar to Biryani, but here the lamb is marinated with the yogurt, a technique which is a Parsi specialty. Serve with a dhal or with the spiced mushrooms.

  • 900 g / 2 lb / lamb fillet, cubed
  • 60 ml / 4 tbsp ghee or butter
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 450 g / 1 lb potatoes, cut into chunks
  • chicken stock or water (see method)
  • 450 g / 1 lb / 2⅓ cups basmati rice, soaked
  • generous pinch of saffron threads, dissolved in 30 ml / 2 tbsp warm milk
  • fresh coriander (cilantro) sprigs, to garnish
For the marinade
  • 475 ml / 16 fl oz / 2 cups natural (plain) yogurt
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 10 ml / 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 20 ml / 4 tsp garam masala
  • 10 ml / 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 5 ml / 1 tsp ground coriander
    Take care not to overcook the rice when parboiling it. The grains should still be quite hard, but should have a slightly powdery consistency.
    1. Make the marinade by mixing all the ingredients in a large bowl. Add the meat, stir to coat, then cover and leave to marinate for 3-4 hours in a cool place or overnight in the refrigerator.
    2. Melt 30 ml / 2 tbsp of the ghee or butter in a large pan and cook the onions for 6-8 minutes, until lightly golden. Transfer to a plate.
    3. Melt a further 25 ml / 1½ tbsp of the ghee or butter in the pan. Cook the marinated lamb cubes, in batches, until evenly brown, transferring each batch in turn to a plate. When all the lamb has been browned, return it to the pan and scrape in the remaining marinade.
    4. Stir in the potatoes and add about three-quarters of the cooked onions. Pour in just enough chicken stock or water to cover the mixture. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer over a very low heat for 40-50 minutes, until the lamb is tender and the potatoes are cooked. Preheat the oven to 160°C / 325°F / Gas 3.
    5. Drain the rice. Cook it in a pan of boiling stock or water for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, spoon the lamb mixture into a casserole. Drain the rice and mound it on top of the lamb, then, using the handle of a wooden spoon, make a hole down the centre. Top with the remaining cooked onions, pour the saffron milk over the top and dot with the remaining ghee or butter.
    6. Cover the pan with a double layer of foil and a lid. Cook in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the rice is completely tender. Garnish with fresh coriander sprigs and serve.
    Lamb Parsi