Sweet-sour lamb pulao

Sweet-sour lamb pulao

Reza’s Indian Spice

One of the oldest recorded types of pulao, with a wonderful combination of sweet and sharp. It’s the most complicated rice dish in this book, but all the elements can be made ahead, making the day itself simply an assembly job.


Quantity Ingredient

For the meat

Quantity Ingredient
500g shoulder of lamb, cubed
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 onion
2 black cardamom pods, crushed
1 teaspoon ground black peppercorns
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon crushed anise seeds
4-6 cloves, coarsely ground
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 teaspoon grated root ginger

For the rice

Quantity Ingredient
350g basmati rice
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
6-7 tablespoons ghee or rapeseed oil
4 onions, thinly sliced
100g caster sugar
3 limes, juiced
1 1/2 teaspoons chilli powder
3 tablespoons flaked almonds, toasted
3 tablespoons slivered pistachios
3 tablespoons raisins
3 tablespoons toasted coconut
100ml meat stock
100ml whole milk
2 tablespoons orange flower water

For the sauce

Quantity Ingredient
3-4 tablespoons ghee or rapeseed oil
1 tablespoon grated root ginger
2 teaspoons chilli powder
120g yogurt
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala


  1. Put the meat in a saucepan, cover with water, add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Skim, and simmer for five minutes. Drain the meat and rinse. Place the coriander and cumin seeds in a dry frying pan over a medium heat. Stir until they smell aromatic, then grind to a powder. Roughly chop the onion, then place in a blender and process to a paste. Return the meat to the rinsed-out saucepan and cover with fresh water, adding all the other ingredients. Bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes, or until tender. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon. Strain the liquid through a sieve, then pour into a clean pan and reduce until you have about 240ml left.
  2. Wash the rice in warm water then rinse in cold. Soak for 30 minutes in salted water. Soak the saffron in 2 tbsp hot water. Bring 1.5 litres of water to the boil in a pan, add salt and 2–3 tbsp ghee. Rinse and drain the rice and add to the water. Boil for five minutes, until the rice pops to the surface. Drain and pour cold water over to prevent further cooking. Now to the sauce. In a non-stick heavy-based pan, heat the ghee, then add the meat, some salt, the ginger, chilli and yogurt. Fry until browned. Add the ground coriander and garam masala and sauté for two minutes. If it sticks, add a dash of water.
  3. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Fry the sliced onions in a little more ghee until golden, drain, then set aside. Mix the sugar, lime juice and chilli powder. Mix the nuts, raisins and coconut and the stock, milk and orange flower water in two separate bowls. You now have five components aside from the rice: the lime solution; fruit and nuts; fried onions; stock; saffron. Get them all to hand.
  4. Grease a heavy-based pan with ghee. Spread in one-quarter of the rice and sprinkle with some saffron, a small handful of both nuts and onions and some of the lime. Spread more rice on top, then add the meat. Put the remaining rice in a bowl and mix in the remaining lime and most of the remaining nuts and onions, reserving a little of both. Spread this over the meat and drizzle with the remaining saffron and ghee. Pour on the stock. Cover and bake for 20 minutes, reduce the temperature to 180°C and bake for 40 minutes. Serve on a platter, sprinkled with the reserved nuts and onions.
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