1lbfat-free minced beef (ask an Indian butcher to make it fresh from braising steak)
½cupcrispy-fried onions (you can now buy these ready-made in Indian shops)
2 chopped red chillies
½cup hulled moong dhal
½cup plain yoghourt (not Greek)
A few strands of saffron
Heat the oil and cook the onions until they turn brown. Miss this stage if using pre-fried onions.
Meanwhile boil the moong dhal in salted water until tender but with a bite.
Cook ginger, garlic, onions and meat in oil for ten minutes.
Add garam masala and chillies, and cook for three minutes before throwing in the tomatoes.
Cook for a further five minutes and start adding yoghourt, a tablespoon at a time, until it is absorbed. Cook for ten more minutes.
Soak saffron in half a cup of hot water.
In a largish pan melt the butter and throw in the peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods. Cook for two minutes before you add 1½ pints of water. It will sizzle. Add salt, let it come to the boil, then cook washed rice in this for five minutes without covering. Then cover, lower heat and cook for another five. Sprinkle with saffron and the water in which it has been soaking. Leave to stand for another five.
In an ovenproof dish, layer the meat with rice and crispy-fried onions. The final layer should be rice. Cover with a double layer of foil and bake for ten minutes – 325°F, 170°C, gas mark 3.