RECIPE: Lamb biryani with apricots & cashews

Lamb and apricots are a winning combination, so you know this fragrant Indian rice dish is bound to be scrumptious

03 August 2017 - 13:52 By Andrea Burgener
Lamb biryani with apricots & cashews.
Lamb biryani with apricots & cashews.
Image: Roelene Prinsloo

Serves: 6


250ml (1 cup) canola oil

3 large onions, thinly sliced

30ml (2 tbsp) garam masala

5ml (1 tsp) crushed red chilli flakes

2.5ml (½ tsp) turmeric

18 black peppercorns

9 pods green cardamom

2 cinnamon sticks

6 cloves garlic, minced

6 tomatoes, cored and minced

5 Thai chillies, remove stems and mince

4cm piece of ginger, peeled and minced

1kg trimmed lamb shoulder, cut into 5-8cm pieces

Salt to taste

125ml (½ cup) plain yoghurt

60ml (4 tbsp) chopped fresh coriander

Salt, to taste

1 cup roughly chopped coriander

20 saffron threads, crushed

500g (2 cups) white basmati rice, soaked in cold water for 30 minutes, drained

2.5ml (½ tsp) cumin seeds

2 bay leaves

100g (1 cup) roasted salted cashews

100g (1 cup) slivered dried apricots


  1. Heat ¼ of the oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Set aside.
  2. Heat remaining oil in clean pot over high heat. Add the garam masala, chilli flakes, turmeric, 10 peppercorns, 5 cardamom pods and 1 cinnamon stick; cook, stirring for about 1 minute.
  3. Add the garlic, tomatoes, chillies and ginger. Cook, stirring, 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the lamb, season with salt, and cook until lightly browned. Cover and cook over medium heat until lamb is tender, about 1 hour.
  5. Add the fried onions, yoghurt, and 30ml (2 tbsp) coriander. Cook uncovered for 15 minutes more and set aside.
  6. Put the saffron in a bowl with ½ cup hot water.
  7. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a pot. Add the remaining peppercorns, cardamom, and cinnamon, along with the rice, cumin, bay leaves, cashews and apricots, and season with salt. Cook rice until slightly al dente.
  8. Drain excess water from the rice and mix in the saffron water.
  9. Transfer half the curry to a new, larger pot. Top the lamb with half the rice. Top with the remaining lamb curry and remaining rice. Steam, covered, until the rice is tender.
  10. Garnish with the remaining coriander and serve.