Laal Maas (Rajasthani Goat Curry) with Sweet Saffron Zarda Pulao


Spicy goat curry meets sweet saffron rice in this holiday meal.

Maneet Chauhan's Laal Maas (Rajasthani Goat Curry)
Photo: Matt Blair
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
4 hrs 30 mins

Both Maneet Chauhan and her husband, Vivek Deora, grew up eating spicy goat curry. Chauhan created this recipe, which is Rajasthani in style, based on what Deora's mother made when he was a child. When you spoon up the spicy, savory goat curry along with the sweet saffron rice, you taste a medley of sweet, spicy and gamey flavors accented with the crunchy nuts. If you can't find goat meat, substitute cubed leg of lamb for this celebration meal.


For the Laal Maas

  • 2 tablespoons store-bought ginger-garlic paste (available in Indian markets)

  • 1 tablespoon mustard oil

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • 2 pounds goat or lamb, cut in cubes

  • 10 Matania or other dried moderately spicy red chiles

  • 1 cup hot water

  • 10 garlic cloves

  • ½ cup ghee, clarified butter, or vegetable oil

  • 4 medium (8-ounce) yellow onions, thinly sliced

  • ½ cup plain full-fat yogurt

For the Sweet Saffron Zarda Pulao

  • 1 cup uncooked white basmati rice

  • 3 tablespoons whole milk

  • Pinch of saffron threads

  • 4 tablespoons ghee

  • 1 (1-inch) piece cinnamon stick

  • 1 star anise pod

  • 4 green cardamom pods

  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds

  • 1 tablespoon golden raisins

  • 2 tablespoons crushed pistachios, plus more for garnish

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 2 cups hot water

  • ½ teaspoon  ground cardamom

  • 2 drops kewra (optional)

  • Rose petals

  • Gold leaf


Make the Laal Maas:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix ginger-garlic paste, mustard and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Add goat to bowl, turn to coat meat with marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 8 hours.

  2. Soak chiles in hot water for 30 minutes. Pour softened chiles with soaking liquid into a blender, add the remaining 1 3/4 teaspoons salt and garlic cloves. Secure lid on blender, and remove center piece to allow steam to escape. Place a clean towel over opening. Process chiles until smooth, about 3 minutes.

  3. Heat ghee in a large, deep skillet over high. When oil just begins to smoke, add onions and cook, stirring constantly, until onions are golden brown. Remove onions from skillet. Reduce heat to medium and add marinated goat pieces to pan. Cook goat until evenly browned, turning pieces as needed, about 15 minutes. Add red chile paste, cooked onions and yogurt and stir until fully incorporated. Cover pan and reduce heat to low. Simmer stew until meat is fork-tender, about 2 hours.

Make the Sweet Saffron Zarda Pulao:

  1. Place rice in a fine mesh strainer; rinse under cold water, stirring with your fingers, until water runs clear. Set aside.

  2. In a small bowl, mix saffron and milk.

  3. Heat ghee in a medium saucepan over medium. Add cinnamon stick, star anise, cardamom pods and rice; cook, stirring occasionally, until spices are fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add almonds, raisins, and pistachios; cook, stirring constantly, until edges of rice become translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in saffron milk, sugar, and hot water and bring to a boil over high. Cook until water is level with rice, about 3 minutes. Cover pan and reduce heat to low. Cook, undisturbed, until liquid is absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cardamom powder and kewra.

  4. Using a fork, fluff rice and transfer to a platter. Garnish with crushed pistachios, rose petals and gold leaf. Top with Laal Maas and serve.

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