Preparation info

  • Difficulty


Appears in

The Settler's Cookbook

By Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

Published 2009

  • About


  • 2 lb leg of lamb cut into bite-sized pieces – a butcher will have to do this for you. Make sure all the fat is taken off the meat or use a 5-lb chicken, skinned and cut into pieces, not too small otherwise it will overcook and break up
  • 3 cups basmati rice, washed in a sieve
  • 1 medium-sized tin of chopped tomatoes or 5 fresh tomatoes, chopped up
  • 2 tsp crushed ginger or 1 tbsp ginger/garlic paste (you can buy it in Indian food stores)
  • 1 cup sunflower oil
  • 4 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 1 large pot plain low-fat yoghourt
  • 3 onions, sliced
  • 4 green chillies
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 5 cups water
  • 4 potatoes, peeled and cut into largish chunks
  • 5 cloves
  • 5 cardamom pods


  • Cook the meat or chicken over a low heat in yoghourt mixed with ginger, garlic and fresh chillies in an ovenproof saucepan with a lid. When almost cooked, remove from heat.
  • Add the cinnamon sticks, cloves, peppercorns and cardamom pods to a mug of water.
  • Parboil the potatoes.
  • In another pan (yes, this is a problem with the dish – a pile to wash up afterwards), heat the oil gently and fry the cumin seeds and onions slowly until the onions are soft and slightly brown.
  • Add the water with whole spices and the tomatoes. Cook for six minutes, again over low heat.
  • Add the potatoes, meat, cooking juices and extra water, and let that come to the boil.
  • Add the rice and salt and stir very carefully.
  • Let that come to a boil, turn down heat and cover. Cook for six minutes.
  • Place the pan in the oven at a medium temperature (350°F, 180°C, gas mark 4) for about fifteen minutes. The traditional way was to surround the pot with hot coals at this stage for a while, then wrap the pot in a thick sheet or with a seal of soft dough.
  • Check that the rice is cooked and the potatoes too. If not, sprinkle over a little more water and return to the oven.
  • Remove and let the dish rest for ten minutes.
  • Serve with yoghourt, whole spring onions and radishes or tomato salad.