Lamb Biryani

Biryani is the maharajah (king) of dishes and is believed to have been invented in the kitchens of the Mughal Emperors. It’s a layered dish combining a rich and tender lamb curry, sweet caramelised onions and saffron-infused rice. Don’t let the length of the recipe put you off as it’s simple to make and very delicious!


Lamb marinade
4 tbsp natural yoghurt
1 tbsp garlic puree
1 tbsp ginger puree
1.5 tbsp Shemin’s Garam Masala Spice Blend
50g Shemin’s Indian Curry Paste (Mild, Medium, Hot or Chilli-Free)
1 tsp salt
750g lamb leg fillets, fat removed and cut into bite sized pieces

Biryani masala
2 tbsp cooking oil
2 onions finely sliced
1 tbsp tomato puree
80ml water

Biryani rice
A generous pinch of saffron threads
4 tbsp hot water
1.5 litre water
1.5 tsp salt
4 green cardamom pods, bruised
500g basmati rice, washed
2 tbsp melted butter
Handful fresh mint, chopped


  1. Mix the yoghurt, ginger, garlic, Shemin’s Garam Masala, Shemin’s Indian Curry Paste and salt, in a non metallic bowl. Add the lamb pieces and mix well, making sure all the pieces are well coated. Set aside and leave to marinate for 2 hours or overnight. Before cooking, take the lamb out of the fridge so that it comes to room temperature.
  2. Heat a large saucepan on a low heat and add the cooking oil. Sauté the onions on a medium heat for 10-12 minutes until they soften and turn light brown.
  3. Turn the heat up and add the lamb mixture and tomato puree. Fry for 3-4 minutes until the lamb is sealed. Turn the heat down, add 80ml water and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally and in the last 10 minutes take the lid off if you need the sauce to thicken. The masala should be reduced and coat the lamb pieces.
  4. For the rice, first add the saffron to the hot water and set aside to soak for 20 minutes.
  5. Pre-heat oven to 180 C / 350 F / Gas mark 4.
  6. 10 Minutes before the lamb is ready, bring 1.5 litres of water to the boil. Add the salt, cardamom pods and rice, and boil steadily for 7 minutes until three quarters done (the rice grain should have a slight bite to it). Drain the rice and set aside.
  7. Brush the base of a deep casserole dish with melted butter. Cover the base with a layer of rice, about a third of the rice, followed by a third of the lamb along with its sauce, followed by another layer of rice and a teaspoon of the saffron water. Repeat each layer finishing off with a layer of rice and a drizzle of saffron water, chopped mint and leftover melted butter.
  8. Wet a piece of grease proof paper in water, large enough to cover the rice completely, and lay loosely on top of the rice. Soak a clean tea towel in water and wring out, then lay loosely on top of the greaseproof paper. Cover the dish with a tight fitting lid or foil, and place in the oven for a final cooking time of 30 minutes. When ready, turn off the oven and leave the casserole dish inside for 15 minutes.
  9. Once done fork the rice gently, garnish with fresh mint and serve warm.
Serves 5

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