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Preparation info

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    • Difficulty


Appears in

The Settler's Cookbook

By Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

Published 2009

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  • 3 cups basmati rice
  • 2 large onions, sliced thin
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes
  • tbsp crushed garlic/ginger mix
  • cup sunflower or vegetable oil
  • 2 cups ordinary, plain yoghourt
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 lb cut pieces of leg of lamb, fat shaved off
  • 8 small parboiled potatoes
  • 5 tbsp tomato purée
  • 3 green chillies, chopped
  • 1 large tsp saffron
  • tbsp garam masala
  • Salt to taste
  • Some yellow or orange food colouring
  • Whole masala made up of 8 sticks of cinnamon, 8 cloves and 8 cardamom pods
  • 1 cup crisply fried onions (available ready-made at Asian food stores)


  • You need to marinate the meat overnight, or for at least six hours, in the yoghourt, garlic, ginger, half the saffron, salt, green chillies, chopped onion, tomatoes, tomato purée and half the whole masala.
  • Cook this in the oven in a covered pan (350°F, 180°C, gas mark 4). The meat needs to be soft. It takes about an hour and a half but may need less or more time, depending on the quality of the lamb.
  • In a large frying pan, fry the sliced onions and potatoes in half the oil. Both should turn brown, not too dark though.
  • Add these to the cooked meat mixture. Move the meat into a bowl (you’ll need the lidded pot later).
  • Add garam masala and lemon juice to the meat, and mix in well.
  • Wash and parboil the rice in plenty of salted water, then drain.
  • Heat the rest of the oil, and chuck in the remaining whole masala.
  • Pour a third into the meat and the rest into the rice.
  • Now take the lidded pot and lay down the rice, sprinkling over it the remaining saffron and food colouring dissolved in half a cup of water.
  • Then top with the meat mixture and sprinkle with fried onions.
  • Cover and return to the oven (350°F, 180°C, gas mark 4) for twenty minutes.
  • Remove and leave covered for another ten.
  • This dish is as luxurious as it gets, five-star and indulgent. During Khushiyali in London in July, they still make it for more than twenty thousand and serve it in the cavernous Olympia exhibition centre. The smell spreads through to the streets.