Sunday, 22 April 2012

Moglai Biriani

I've been in Tasmania for most of the last week, hence the lack of updates. Tazzie cuisine is excellent, featuring lots of fresh seafood and local produce. It was also wonderful to see so many apple varieties again - shame I couldn't take any back to WA, what with the quarantine.

Today we went into Perth to catch up on some bits and pieces of shopping we hadn't got round to in ages. One important task was to use a very generous book voucher we had received for the wedding from a friend. As you may have seen me complaining, I really could do with a few new cookbooks for inspiration! I found a rather hefty and inspiring tome - The Complete Asian Cookbook, which tours every country east of Turkey and north of Australia. I need to buy a few things from the market next weekend, but I did manage to put together a pretty amazing moglai biriani tonight, even with half the ingredients missing. What follows is what I actually made, but I thoroughly recommend picking up the cookbook yourself and trying the full, correct recipe.
Complete with Tasmanian Devil oven glove purchased
from Hobart's excellent Salamanca market!

For the lamb:
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 300g of lamb chunks
  • 1/2 tsp crushed black onion seed
  • 1 tsp powdered cumin
  • 1/2tsp dried chilli
  • a large handful of fresh mint leaves
  • one tomato, roughly chopped
  • juice of half a lemon
For the pilau:
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp powdered cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 100g basmati rice
  • 3 bay leaves
  • a chicken stock cube
  • a handful of sultanas
For the topping:
  • a handful of almonds
  • half a cup of frozen peas
  • a sprig of fresh coriander leaf

Finely chop the two onions and fry gently for five minutes, until golden. Crush in the garlic, stir for a further minute, then split between two pans, preferably a stainless steel suitable for cooking rice, and a heavy oven-proof casserole pot, like a small Le Creuset. To the latter, add the lamb chunks, onion seed, cumin, chilli, mint leaves, tomato and lemon juice; cover and simmer for an hour, checking occasionally and adding water if you find it sticking.

Meanwhile, toast the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns and remove to a mortar and pestle once fragrant, then crush finely. Stir in the cinnamon and nutmeg, then add all of the spices to the onion and garlic in the stainless steel pan, along with the rice. Fry for a minute, then add the bay leaves, stock cube and sultanas, and twice as much boiling water as rice. Simmer for 20 minutes, checking occasionally and adding more water if you find it sticking - do not stir.

Ten minutes before the lamb is done, start the oven preheating to 160C. When the lamb is cooked and the sauce around it has thickened and become fairly dry, remove it from the casserole, and replace with half of the rice. Put the lamb back on top of the rice, then cover with the remaining half of the rice. Cover the casserole pot and place in the oven for 25-30 minutes.

Five minutes before the end, lay the almonds out on a baking tray and toast in the oven; keep an eye out so they don't burn. Remove and roughly chop. Heat the peas in boiling water in a microwave, then drain. Remove the biriani from the oven and serve, topped with the almonds, peas and coriander leaf.

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