Pakistani Lamb Pulao

May 4, 2008   

recipe taken from: See original for beautiful photographs of the food and cooking stages.

Pakistani Lamb Pulao


  • 800 gr lamb, ie shoulder
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 6 cups thinly slices onions
  • 400gr peeled tomatoes
  • 100gr sultanas
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 piece ginger root
  • 6 green cardamom pods or 3 black
  • 20 black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leave
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • sea salt
  • a pinch of mace
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds
  • ground turmeric
  • 5 cloves
  • 2-4 dried chilies
  • 2 cups water


The first step is very important - you need to to wash the rice a couple times, then leave it in a bowl filled with water for 1 to 2 hours. If you omit this the rice will not be fully cooked.

Dry the meat with a paper towel and cut all the white fat patches you can. Cut the meat in cubes the size of your thumb’s width.

Season them with salt and pepper. Wrap in plastic foil and let the meat rest while you finish the preparation.

Take ginger, onions and garlic out of the fridge. Peel them, then chop the onions as thinly as possible. Crush the garlic and grate the ginger until you have an equal amount of both.

Reduce peppercorns, cumin, coriander, mace, nutmeg and the deseeded and stemmed chilies into a fine powder (using mortar and pestle, or food processor).

Heat some ghee or oil in a dutch oven.

Add the large fragrant spices: cardamom, cinammon, cloves and the bay leave. Fry over high heat until the turn brownish. You don’t want to burn them but the bay leave should change color. This process increases the flavor much like it does when you heat raw sesame seeds.

Add ginger-garlic purée and fry some more, about 3 minutes or until purée is colored.

Add onions and cook over medium heat until onions are soft, about 10 minutes.

Add ground spices, mix, and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Add the lamb and cook until colored on every side, mixing all the time.

Add tomatoes, salt and turmeric …

… and then the 2 cups water. Bring to a strong boil.

Drain the soaked rice and pour it in.

Mix well. Heat the oven to 165C°/325°F.

Wrap a ribbon of tin foil folded 4 times over itself all around the dutch oven’s top to make as tight a seal as you can. Cover and cook in the oven for 40 minutes. Don’t peek! If you really have to, you can cook this on very low heat on your stove.

Here is the dish after 40 minutes, gloriously fragrant, the rice transformed in an intriguing pile of small white sticks.

Serve with a cucumber raita as a main course. Put some melted butter or ghee on top and pan-fried almonds and chopped coriander leaves.

This recipe comes from Mangoes & Curry Leaves, the best Indian cuisine cookbook I’ve seen in English, winner of the Beard Cookbook award. Warmly recommended if you like Indian food!

Published 29/01/2007 / 13086 views