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Lamb Biryani

With a fair few steps, lamb biryani may seem like a journey of a recipe, but it’s one you’ll be glad to have embarked on once you taste the end result – it’s just so unbelievably comforting. A rich and tender curry, fluffy grains of rice, crispy onions and fresh herbs combine to make the ultimate rice dish.


Lamb Biryani

30 minutes + overnight marinating
2 hours 45 minutes

2½ cups basmati rice, soaked in water

4 dried bay leaves

8 cardamom pods

6 cloves

1 cinnamon stick

3 tsp sea salt

1 cup roughly chopped mint leaves

1 cup roughly chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves


Lamb curry:

1 tbsp sliced ginger

4 cloves garlic

1 green chilli, roughly chopped

2 tsp sea salt

1 tbsp ground coriander

2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder

½ tsp ground turmeric

1 cup natural yoghurt

1kg (2 lb 3 oz) lamb shoulder, boneless, cut into 4cm (1.5”) chunks

2 tbsp ghee


Crispy fried onions

4 small red onion, sliced in rings

vegetable oil, for deep-frying


Bloomed saffron

⅔ cup milk

2g (just under 0.1 oz) saffron threads


Kachumber salad

1 small cucumber, 1cm (⅜”) dice

1-2 tomatoes, 1cm (⅜”) dice

½ red onion, 1cm (⅜”) dice

2 tbsp finely chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves

2 tbsp finely chopped mint

½ lemon, juiced

¼ tsp ground cumin

1 tsp sea salt


Onion raita

½ cup natural yoghurt

¼ red onion, finely diced

1 tbsp finely chopped mint

1 tbsp finely chopped coriander

½ long green chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped

½ tsp sea salt

  • Step 1

    To make the marinade for the lamb curry, place the ginger, garlic, green chilli and salt into a mortar and pestle. Pound to a smooth paste. Transfer to a clean mixing bowl, then add in the ground coriander, garam masala, turmeric, kashmiri chilli powder and yoghurt. Give everything a mix until well combined. Next, add the lamb pieces and ensure all the pieces are evenly coated all over. Cover, then leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours (although overnight is best).

  • Step 2

    Place a heavy based saucepan on medium heat. Add the ghee, followed by the marinated lamb. Cook, stirring and flipping the meat, for around 3–4 minutes until everything is smelling lovely and you start to see some browning on the lamb. Now pop a lid on the pan and reduce the heat to low. Slow cook for 2 hours, or until the lamb is fork tender and falling apart. Leave aside.

  • Step 3

    For the fried onions, fill a saucepan or wok roughly one-third of the way up with oil. While the oil is heating, line a tray with some paper towel. Once the oil is hot, fry onion rings for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until golden and crispy. Drain and place on the lined tray to absorb any excess oil. Set aside for later.

  • Step 4

    While the lamb is cooking, place the rice in a large bowl. Cover with enough cold water to cover the rice entirely, then leave to soak for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, add around 3 litres of water to a large pot, followed by the bay leaves, cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon stick and 3 teaspoons of salt. Drain your soaked rice, then add to the water. Bring to the boil. Cook rice for 4–5 minutes – at this point, it will still be far and not fully cooked, but we’ll finish it off later. Strain the rice (be sure to keep the aromatics in the rice), and leave to cool.

  • Step 5

    To bloom the saffron, place the milk into a small saucepan. Add the saffron. Turn on the heat to low-medium and gently warm the milk, stirring often – you should be able to feel a pleasant warmth when you pop your finger in the milk (anything too hot will disrupt the flavour). Turn off the heat and allow to infuse for 15 minutes. Transfer to a jug with a pourer.

  • Step 6

    To assemble the biryani, you’ll need a deep heavy-based or cast-iron pot (or claypot). Place all of the tender lamb and cooking juices in an even layer on the bottom. Top with half of the cooked rice and pack it down firmly. Next, scatter half of the fried onions on top of the rice along with half of the fresh mint and coriander. Follow again with the remaining rice, onions and herbs, packing everything down firmly.

  • Step 7

    In a circular motion, pour the saffron milk over the top of everything – this will give you a mix of yellow and white grains of rice at the end. Cover the top of the biryani with 2 layers of aluminum foil and press firmly to secure the dish. Cover with a lid and place on medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes to steam on the stovetop. Once the time’s up, turn off the heat and allow the pan to sit there (keep the lid on) for a further 15 minutes.

  • Step 8

    While that’s happening, let’s make the kachumber salad. Place all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Mix to combine and leave in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

  • Step 9

    To make the onion raita, mix all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Leave aside until ready to serve.

  • Step 10

    To serve, scoop out the biryani onto serving plates, being sure to get right to the bottom of the pan so you have every layer on your spoon. Serve with kachumber salad and onion raita.

  • Notes

    – You may have seen other recipes that use water for the process of blooming saffron. I like to use milk instead, as I believe it carries the flavour and colour of saffron better than water. You also get that pleasant, silky mouthfeel.

    – Don’t overheat the liquid as you’re blooming, as it will shock the saffron.

Marion's Kitchen is for everyone who finds joy in flavour and happiness in every bite. Marion's Kitchen is for everyone who finds joy in flavour and happiness in every bite.

What our customers say

Rated 5.0 out of 5
5.0 out of 5 stars (based on 10 reviews)
Very good0%
December 26, 2023

Loved it! Add more spice!

Made this for our pre-Christmas meal. It was a big hit! Very flavourful. I would double or triple the number of hot green peppers next time. I will also make a version of this recipe with leftover Indian curry. Thanks Marion!

October 25, 2023

Marion’s recipes

Marion’s talent in cooking is unbelievable she can cook many dishes and they are all so tasty

I love watching her cook

She shld be a celebrity Chef anywhere

I wish u all the best in all ur new ventures stay blessed always

Thilini F
July 26, 2023

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