Recipe for cooking award winning Biriyani – A Festive Dish

Rice is cooked in stock and layered with savory meat or chicken, making this a truly wonderful party dish’s a meal in one course. Because this dish consists of three distinct components, each with its mixture of spices, onions, garlic and ginger, I have taken a short cut by using my easy version of Lamb Korma for the lamb layer. For an even shorter method, skip making the stock and use some of my Kashmiri Marinade to flavor the rice. It has no chilli in it, and so is mild and fragrant.

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Serves 6-8

1 quantity Lamb Korma


  • 1.5 kg (3 lb) chicken pieces or 3 lamb shanks
  • ½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 1 onion, stuck with 5 cloves
  • 2 teaspoons salt or to taste


Spiced Rice

  • 500 g (1 lb) basmati rice
  • 3 tablespoons ghee or oil
  • 2 medium-sized onions, sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron strands or J teaspoon powdered saffron
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
  • ½ teaspoon Garam Masala (see page 168)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¼ cup sultanas
  • ¼ cup fried almonds

To make the Stock, simmer the chicken or lamb in a large pan in enough water to cover with the whole spices, onion and salt for about 2 hours or until a good strong stock results. Strain the stock and reserve. Remove the meat from the bones. Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces and reserve. To make the Spiced Rice, wash the rice well and drain in a colander for 1 hour. Heat the ghee in a heavy saucepan with a well-fitting lid. Fry the onions until soft and golden, stirring occasionally.

If using saffron strands, toast them for about a minute in a dry pan, taking care not to let them darken. Turn onto a saucer and when cool and crisp crush them to powder with the back of a spoon. Add 1 tablespoon hot water to dissolve. Add the garlic and ginger to the onions and fry a minute longer. Add the rice and stir well, then add saffron, 1 litre (2 pints/4 cups) of the hot stock, garam masala, cardamom and salt. When it comes to the boil stir in the sultanas, cover with a well-fitting lid and cook on the lowest heat for 20 minutes. Do not lift lid during this time as it is the steam that cooks the rice.

Turn off the heat, uncover and allow the steam to escape for 10 minutes. The chicken or lamb pieces reserved from the stock can now be added to the rice and gently mixed through. Transfer one-third of the rice to a buttered ovenproof dish, pressing the layer down lightly. Spread half the lamb korma over the rice, cover with another third of the rice and the remaining lamb. Finally, add a third layer of rice, press down, cover with foil and place in a slow oven, about 150¡C (300¡F), for 30 minutes.


To serve, garnish the top of the dish with fried almonds or blanched pistachios and serve with accompaniments such as cucumbers in sour cream, chutneys and pappadams. A short cut to Spiced Rice is to dissolve 2 tablespoons of Charmaine Solomon’s Kashmiri Marinade in 1 litre (2 pints/4 cups) hot water and use to cook the rice. Add saffron, salt and sultanas, bring to the boil, cover tightly and cook on low heat for 20 minutes. The onions, garlic, ginger, garam masala and ground cardamom are all in the marinade.

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