Lamb Biryani
© Melanie Acevedo

Lamb Biryani



  1. 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  2. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  3. 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  4. 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  5. 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  6. 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  7. 1 pound boneless lamb, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  8. 3 tablespoons butter
  9. 1 onion, cut into thin slices
  10. 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom or ground coriander
  11. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  12. 5 cloves
  13. 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  14. 1 1/2 cups long-grain rice, preferably basmati
  15. 2 3/4 cups water
  16. 1/3 cup raisins
  17. 1/3 cup chopped cashews
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt with the garlic, cayenne, cumin, black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Stir in the lamb.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat. Add the onion and cook until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cardamom, turmeric, cloves, cinnamon, rice, and the remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons salt. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  3. Add the lamb mixture to the pan. Stir in the water and raisins. Bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer until the rice and lamb are almost done, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat. Let stand, covered, until the rice and lamb are just done, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cashews.

Other nuts, such as almonds or pistachios, can easily stand in for the cashews.

Suggested Pairing

The spices here immediately indicate a Zinfandel from Napa or Sonoma, classic examples of which are redolent of the very same spices. The full body of these wines will match the intensity of the biryani nicely.