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.
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.
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.
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