This leftover lamb biryani recipe is a great way to spice up some leftover roast lamb and make a hearty family meal.
I am always looking for recipes for leftover lamb and this one is definitely one of my favorites. It does take some time to put all the different elements together but it is well worth the effort.
This leftover lamb curry is inspired by the Jamie Oliver leftover lamb biryani from his TV series Jamie's Money Saving Meals.
But I have tweaked it over the years and also had a little input from some Indian friends on the best way to cook basmati rice for a biryani that I put into practice here.
How to cook rice for biryani
When cooking rice for biryani, the main thing you want to avoid is ending up with stodgy, mushy rice. There are a few things you can do to prevent this happening.
Firstly, you need to rinse and soak the rice before you cook. Do not skip this step! It is very important to help prevent soggy rice.
To do this you need to rinse the rice in a sieve under running water until the water runs clear. This helps remove starch from the rice to stop it sticking together. Then put it in a bowl with water and soak it for 30 minutes. You then strain it again before you cook it.
The second thing you can do to prevent mushy rice is to make sure you don't overcook it. Remember that the rice will continue to cook when you put the dish in the oven, so it only needs to be 70% cooked before then.
Therefore, when cooking biryani rice, it is best to boil it in lots of water rather than steam it. Then strain it through a sieve and run it under cold water to stop it from cooking further. Then spread it out on a large plate and set aside for later.
Looking for more leftover lamb recipes? You may also like this: Leftover Lamb Ragu.
The other thing you should traditionally do when cooking biryani rice is to add some flavoring to the water it is cooked in. For this biryani lamb recipe, I have included cardamoms, cinnamon and cloves. You could also add star anise and/or allspice if you have them.
This is by no means essential and don't stress if you don't have these spices in your store cupboard. But if you have them - then be sure to toss them in to the pot.
What is the best rice for Biryani?
The best rice for making a biryani is arguably basmati. This is the rice traditionally used for Indian dishes and it is perfect for biryani as because the grains tend to stay separate when it cooks, making it less sticky.
If you can't get basmati rice, then you could substitute with another long grain rice, but be aware that it could result in a stickier consistency.
Looking for more leftover curry recipes? You may also like this: Leftover Chicken Curry.
What stock to use for a curry with leftover lamb?
If you have the bone from a leftover roast lamb, you can easily make up a lamb stock to use in this biryani.
To do this place the lamb bone in a stock pot with some water, maybe an onion, carrot and stick of celery and some herbs and let it bubble away for a couple of hours.
I actually usually use my homemade chicken bone broth for this recipe. I make up a big batch of this every couple of weeks so I always have some in my fridge or freezer ready to use. Plus its full of goodness so I'm always looking for excuses to use it in my cooking.
If you don't have the time or inclination to make your own stock, that's fine. A shop bought stock or even a stock cube will work fine. You will find a lot of the flavor for the sauce comes from the spices and the lamb itself anyway.
How to make lamb biryani
Although this recipe may seem long, and there are a few parts to it, when you break it down, it's actually pretty simple.
Once your rice is prepared and set aside, you can make the lamb. To do this, you will need two separate saucepans - one to cook the spinach, and the other to make the lamb.
Firstly, chop the onions, garlic and ginger and divide this mixture between the two saucepans. To one saucepan, add the spinach with a splash of water and cook it for 10 minutes.
In the other saucepan, you cook the spices, flour and mango chutney together with the lamb and stock until you have a nice thick sauce. Next we strain this sauce to separate the lamb and gravy (make sure you do this over a bowl to save the gravy).
Grease a large baking/lasagna dish and spread out half the rice in the bottom of the dish. Spread out all the spinach on top of the rice
followed by all the meat, then the rest of the rice.
Sprinkle over the flaked almonds, cover with tin foil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, remove the foil and continue to cook for a further 20 minutes. During this final 20 minutes, re-heat the gravy ready for pouring over the top.
Serve with the gravy poured over the top, sprinkle with some chopped cilantro leaves and a side of yoghurt or raita.
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Leftover Lamb Biryani
- Baking Dish
For the rice
- 2 ½ cups Basmati Rice (400g)
- 2 cardamom pods
- 2 cloves
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the lamb
- 4 tablespoon oil
- 2 onions
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger
- 4 cloves garlic
- 8 oz baby spinach leaves (200g bag)
- 2 heaped teaspoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 tablespoon all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoon mango chutney
- splash red wine vinegar
- 750 ml stock
- 14 oz leftover lamb (400g) shredded or chopped into small pieces
- ¼ cup flaked almonds
- cilantro leaves and yoghurt to serve
To cook the rice
- Rinse rice in a sieve until the water runs clear.
- Place rice in a bowl, cover with 3 cups of water and soak for 30 minutes. Do not skip this step!
- Strain rice in the sieve and set aside.
- Bring 2 liters of water to the boil in a large saucepan.
- Add cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon and salt. Then add rice and stir.
- Cook for 7 minutes. The rice should be almost cooked, but not quite.
- Drain the rice in the sieve and rinse with cold water.
- Place the drained rice onto a large plate and fluff the rice. Season with salt & pepper and set aside.
To make the biryani
- Pre-heat the oven to 400F / 200C
- Finely chop the onion, garlic and ginger and mix together.
- Take two saucepans and heat 2 tablespoons of oil in each. Add half the onion/garlic/ginger mixture to each pan.
- Cook over a medium heat for around 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the spinach to one pan with a splash of water and cook for 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Season with salt & pepper and set aside.
- Meanwhile in the other pan, add the curry powder, chili flakes and flour, and stir to combine.
- Next add the mango chutney and vinegar and mix well.
- Now slowly stir in the stock, stirring continuously, scraping up any bits that might be stuck on the bottom.
- Add the lamb to the pan and simmer for around 20 minutes until you have a nice thick sauce.
- Season with salt & pepper and then strain the sauce through a sieve over a bowl to separate the meat from the gravy.
- Grease a baking/lasagna dish and spread half the rice over the bottom of the dish.
- Spread all of the spinach mixture over the rice and then all of the lamb, followed by the remaining rice.
- Sprinkle the top with almond flakes, cover with foil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
- Now remove the foil from the dish and continue to cook for a further 20 minutes.
- During the last 10 minutes of cooking time, re-heat the gravy in a saucepan.
- Serve the lamb biryani with the gravy poured over the top, sprinkled with fresh cilantro leaves and a side of yoghurt.