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Kheema Biryani (Saffron Rice With Ground Lamb)


Saffron threads
¼ tsp
Boiling water
3 tbsp
Imported basmathi  rice or uncooked long grain rice
2 cups
2 tsp
½ cup
Onion – finely chopped
½ cup
Cumin seeds
¼ cup
½ tsp
Lean ground lamb
1 pound
Fresh coriander – finely chopped
¼ cup
Fennel seeds
½ tsp
Chicken stock
1 ½ cups

Pour the rice in to a sieve or colander set in a large pot of cold water, and rub the grains lightly between your fingers to remove all surface starch. Changing the water 4 or 5 times, wash the rice until the water remains absolutely clear. Drain the rice thoroughly.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Drop the saffron threads into a small bowl or cup, pour in the boiling water and let them soak for at least 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a heavy 2- to 3-quart saucepan. Stirring constantly, pour in the rice in a slow, thin stream, add 1 teaspoon of the salt and cook briskly, uncovered, over moderate heat for l0 minutes. Strain the rice in a sieve or colander and set it aside.

In a heavy 10- to l2-inch skillet, heat ¼ cup of the glee over high heat until a drop of water flicked into it splutters instantly. Add the onions, cumin seeds and the remaining teaspoon of salt and, stirring constantly, fry the mixture for 3 or 4 minutes, or until the onions are soft and transparent but not brown. Watch carefully for any sign of burning and regulate the heat accordingly. Add the ground cumin and turmeric, stir for 1 minute longer, then add the lamb. Turning and mashing it frequently with the back of the spoon to break up any lumps, fry the lamb for about 10 minutes, until all traces of pink disappear. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the fresh coriander.

Heat the remaining ¼ cup of glee in a heavy 3- to 4-quart casserole equipped with a tightly fitting lid. Stir in the fennel seeds and rice and, when they are evenly coated with the glee, remove the casserole from the heat. Ladle about two thirds of the rice mixture into a bowl and spread the remaining rice evenly over the bottom of the casserole. Pour in about half of the saffron and its soaking liquid and add half the lamb mixture.

Spread about half of the reserved rice over the lamb, add the remaining meat and then add the remaining rice mixture. Dribble the remaining saffron and soaking liquid evenly over the top. Add the chicken stock, pouring it down the side of the casserole, and bring to a boil over high heat.

Cover the casserole with a sheet of foil, crimping the edges to hold it firmly in place. Set the lid securely on top of the foil and bake in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes, or until the rice is tender and has absorbed all the liquid in the casserole.

Fluff the rice with a fork and serve the biryani directly from the casserole, or mound it in a heated platter or bowl.