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Slow-Cooked Lamb Biriyani

by , featured in Homemade Takeaways
Published by Orion Publishing Group Ltd
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A classic biriyani is a multi-layered rice and meat dish. As delicious as it is, it is also laborious to make. Consider this as more of a single-storey, bungalow biriyani. The recipe may look complicated but once the lamb is in the oven it really is very easy and the resulting dish is resplendent in both taste and appearance – a worthy centrepiece to any table. Try this as an alternative to your Sunday lunch, served with naan bread and watch as children leave their toys and teenagers forget their phones for a brief, but delicious few moments.

Image of Rob Allison's Slow-Cooked Lamb Biriyani
Photo by Kris Kirkham


Serves: 6

  • 200 grams natural yogurt
  • 5 centimetres piece fresh ginger (peeled and grated)
  • 8 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 shoulder of lamb (about 2kg)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion (finely diced)
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 6 green cardamom pods (lightly crushed with the side of a knife)
  • 2 bay leaves (fresh if possible)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 400 grams basmati rice (rinsed)
  • 600 millilitres chicken broth
  • 3 large sprigs fresh rosemary
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • seeds of 1 pomegranates (to serve)
  • 1 small bunch of mint (leaves only, to serve)
  • naan bread (to serve)


Slow-Cooked Lamb Biriyani is a guest recipe by Rob Allison so we are not able to answer questions regarding this recipe

  1. Place the yoghurt, ginger, garlic, ground spices and lemon juice in a bowl along with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly with a spoon until you have a smooth marinade.
  2. Take the lamb shoulder and using a small, sharp knife puncture the flesh in about 20 places. Smother the shoulder in the yoghurt marinade, ensuring you work it into the meat. Cover with cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for a minimum of 6 hours or preferably overnight.
  3. When ready to cook, remove the marinated meat from the fridge, uncover, and leave to warm a little whilst you wait for your oven to preheat to 230°C/220°C fan oven/450°F/gas mark 8.
  4. Place the shoulder in a large roasting tin, then roast for 15 minutes, by which time the meat should have browned in a few places. Remove the lamb from the oven and pour 250ml boiling water into the base of the roasting tin. Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C/150°C fan oven/325°F/gas mark 3. Loosely cover the shoulder with some baking parchment, then cover the whole roasting tin with tin foil, and cook the lamb in the oven for 3½ hours.
  5. When the lamb has about 20 minutes left of its cooking time, find a large, ovenproof dish that is big enough to fit the lamb in one piece (a deep roasting tray will do). Heat the oil in the ovenproof dish over a medium-high heat. Add the onion and fry, stirring regularly for 5 minutes or until the onion has softened and taken on a little colour. Add the cloves, cardamom, bay leaves and cinnamon. Continue frying and stirring for a further 3 minutes by which time your kitchen should be filled with heady and delicious aromas. Tip in the rice, and stir to coat in the oil and spices. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Add a generous sprinkle of salt to the pan, then place a piece of baking parchment over the rice.
  6. The lamb should have had its requisite time by now, so remove from the oven and replace it with the rice. Cook the rice in the oven for 15 minutes before removing and discarding the parchment. Increase the oven temperature to 170°C/160°C fan oven/340°F/gas mark 3½ .
  7. Now to assemble: spoon a generous amount of the cooking juices from the bottom of the lamb roasting dish over the cooked rice, this will add colour and flavour. Next lay the rosemary sprigs randomly on top of the rice. Carefully pick up the lamb shoulder (a combination of tongs, a friend and a spatula works very well) and place on top of the rice. Place the lid on top of the dish and place back in the oven.
  8. After 12 minutes remove the dish from the oven, and let it rest for 10 minutes. When ready to serve, remove the lid and scatter over the pomegranate seeds and mint leaves for a final flourish. Serve with naan bread and knowing pride. This is well worth the effort.

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What 1 Other has said

  • This was great, and a lovely way to celebrate a whole shoulder of lamb, thank you! Will definitely make again, but here are some tweaks I would recommend. I think you should use 600g of rice, as I found the meat to rice ratio too heavy on meat. I also took the meat off the bone and layered it and its gravy with layers of rice, which I think allows the flavour and fragrance of the braise to better distribute across the biryani. Finally I scooped a full jar of fat off the top of the braised lamb after it had finished cooking, and used this fat for the frying the rice and spices step (and also fried some onions separately in it to scatter on top). I then used the lamb shoulder bone as a spatula for serving :D

    Posted by sammyle on 29th March 2024
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