Lamb biryani; broccolini – 12 June 2011

I finally am getting a bit ambitious with the start of summer “vacation”. Have a lot of work to do, but the days are not as structured, so I can be at home early, and have enough time to cook a bit. I decided to make a recipe I saw in the April 2010 edition of Saveur, called “Lamb Biryani,” which seems to mean “lamb with rice and a whole lot of traditional spices.”

A WHOLE lot of traditional spices. Holy cow, this took forever. Fortunately, it was very good. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice till much later that the dinner was steaming my lens. Sorry about that. The rice is really pretty. The recipe is from Saveur’s major article on cardamom, and there are both green and black cardamom pods in the recipe, and also turmeric, red chili flakes, Serrano chilis, cilantro and mint, garam masala, cinnamon sticks, garlic, cumin, cloves, and bay. Whew! And just cutting up the lamb shoulder took 40 minutes, which did not include boning it (which the person at the Bowl did for me).

Three threads converge in the cooking – many spices cooked briefly in oil, then lamb chunks browned in this spice/oil, chopped tomatoes added, and all cooked, covered, for an hour.

Sliced onions cooked to “dark brown” slowly in oil.

Basmati rice, cooked with many spices.

Also, saffron steeped in hot water, but that is not challenging enough to be its own “thread”.

So you add the onions to the lamb, along with mint and cilantro, and cook another 15 minutes, then layer lamb mixture, rice, saffron water and rosewater [mix into rice with fingers!], lamb, rice, more saffron, mix. The finger-mix leaves some rice yellow and some white, which makes it a more interesting-looking dish. Cover and steam for 10 minutes to finish cooking the rice. This is all top-of-stove. The final touch is to top the rice with more cilantro and mint before serving.

I also cooked some pita breads, which are pretty easy but you have to start 2 1/2 hours in advance, and some broccolini, boiled 1 minute in plain water, drained, and tossed with minced garlic and grated lemon zest (a whole lemon for two people). I grabbed a quick photo of the pitas in the oven – I see I pulled the camera away before the shutter closed, even, but I kind of like the picture anyway.

D chose our favorite Cotes du Ventoux for this meal and it went remarkably well.

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