In Pakistan, bread is generally for everyday meals and rice is for special occasions. This lamb pulao from Pakistan is a special-occasion dish of lamb and rice that is like the pulaos of Central Asia—Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Xinjiang, for example. Lamb or goat are traditional, but in Pakistan these days, beef might be substituted. The pulao has the blend of flavors that we associate with Moghul dishes: cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, all subtly blended.
The list of ingredients may look long, but they’re mostly spices, so all it takes is measuring them out. You will need a wide heavy ovenproof pot with a tight-fitting lid. Techniques are not complicated: The lamb is cooked in oil that is flavored with onion and spices, then the liquids (tomatoes and water) are added. The meat, tomatoes, and rice simmer together until the liquid is absorbed, flavors are blended and aromatic, and textures are tender. Traditionally pulaos are cooked over a fire and then simmered over the coals, or finished in the waning heat of a tandoor oven. We start the cooking on our stove top, then finish it in a slow oven, but you can also slow cook the rice over low heat on the stove. Both methods are given here.
Serve as the centerpiece of a special meal.