Kheema biryani

Kheema biryani

The Art Of The Larder
Mike Lusmore

Kheema is a South Asian dish using minced meat. Fried and mixed with yoghurt before being baked in a Basmati bed and blanket, this biryani method is as fascinating as it is failsafe. With the meat marinating in the yoghurt, you get soft, tender mince scented with mesmerizing rose water, almond and spices.


Quantity Ingredient
250g basmati rice
1 cinnamon stick
5 cloves
4 green cardamom pods
10 black peppercorns
a few strands of saffron
100ml milk, warm
rose water, depending on strength, a few drops and up to 1 teaspoon (optional)
75ml melted butter or vegetable oil, (use ghee if you like)
1 large onion, sliced
2 bay leaves
350g minced lamb
2cm fresh ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chilli flakes or powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
50g yoghurt, plus extra to serve
1/4-1/2 a nutmeg, to grate
3 tablespoons each of raisins and chopped almonds


  1. Cook the rice in a medium saucepan without a lid with 1 teaspoon of salt, 250ml of water and the whole spices until it is just half done and the liquid has all evaporated. Drain in a large colander, then spread the rice evenly on a large dish to dry out a little.
  2. Meanwhile mix the saffron with the warm milk and set aside, adding a few drops of rose water if using.
  3. Heat the butter or oil in a deep pan over a moderate heat, then add the sliced onion and bay leaves and fry until the onion is soft and translucent, about 8–10 minutes.
  4. Mix in the minced lamb, ginger, garlic, chilli and cumin and fry for a further 10 minutes over a slightly lower, medium heat. Take off the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes, then add the yoghurt and stir well.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180°.
  6. Spread half the pre-cooked rice in a casserole or heavy-bottomed pan for which you have a lid. Spread the cooked lamb yoghurt mix over the rice and pour over the saffron milk. Grate the nutmeg to your taste, all over the dish. Cover with the remaining rice and top with the raisins and almonds.
  7. Put the lid on the pan and cook in the hot oven for another 30–35 minutes, until the liquid has all evaporated and the rice is tender.
  8. Remove from the oven and set aside to rest for 5 minutes. Serve with seasoned yoghurt (plain yoghurt mixed with some salt and a little garlic) and some hot pickles or chutney.
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