2-in (5-cm) piece fresh ginger root
6 cloves garlic
Salt to taste
2 cups (500 g) yogurt
3½ lb (1¾ kg) lamb, cubed
1 tablespoon coriander seed or 2 ½ teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin seed or 1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup (250 g) ghee
4 onions, cut in half across and then finely sliced lengthwise
½ cup (125 g) blanched almonds, finely ground
2 onions, cut in half across and then finely sliced lengthwise
1 small piece of cinnamon stick, broken
8 whole cloves
1 teaspoon salt
5 cups (1¼ kg) Basmati rice, washed until clear and soaked for 1 hour
6 cardamom pods
2-in (5-cm) piece cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon black cumin seed
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup (250 ml) milk
Pinch of saffron or 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
Juice of 1 lime
6 medium-length green chilies, cut into pieces
A handful of mint and fresh coriander leaves, coarsely chopped
Extra Garnishes (optional)
2 tablespoons raw cashew nuts
2 tablespoons golden raisins
3 tablespoons ghee
Mash or grind the ginger, garlic and salt to a fine paste. Mix with 2 tablespoons of yogurt to make a marinade. Mix this with the meat and marinade for 2 hours or more. In the meantime roast the coriander and cumin seeds (if using). Cool, grind them to a powder and set aside.
Heat the ghee in a pan and fry the 2 sliced onions to be used as garnish for the rice until brown and crisp. Remove, drain on paper towel and set aside, leaving the ghee in the pan. Reheat the ghee and fry the remaining onions until golden. Lift out with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Pour out all but 4 tablespoons of the remaining ghee. Reheat it and stir-fry the ground almonds, coriander and cumin and the marinated meat until the meat is seared on all sides and the spices are fragrant. Add the rest of the yogurt, mix everything well and cook, uncovered, until the meat is tender and the gravy is fairly dry. Add a little water if the dish becomes too dry before the meat is tender. Set aside (the flavor will mature if left overnight in the refrigerator before you prepare the rice).
To prepare the Rice, bring about three-quarters of a large saucepan of water to a boil. Tie the cinnamon stick and the cloves in a piece of cheesecloth and add it to the water with salt. Add the rice and parboil for about 8 minutes then drain well. Discard the spices and set the rice aside to cool.
Lightly grease a deep casserole dish. Spread half the rice in a layer on the bottom of the dish, spread the cooked meat on top of this, and the onions on top of the meat. Cover with the second half of the Rice.
Heat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Grind the cardamom pods, the cinnamon stick, the black cumin and the nutmeg to a powder. Warm the milk and add the saffron or turmeric, the ground spices and the lime juice. Pour this mixture over the rice in the casserole and scatter the chilies, fried onion, mint and coriander leaves over the top. Cover the pot with foil and a tight-fitting lid, making sure that it is tightly sealed. Put the casserole into the oven for 10-15 minutes. Remove, wrap in a kitchen towel and set aside for 30 minutes.
Alternatively, you may prefer to reserve the mint and coriander leaves and scatter them over the top just before serving, along with some cashew nuts and golden raisins fried in ghee.
Serve accompanied by an Onion and Coconut Salad and/or Tomato and Onion Salad, Cucumber Raita, a sambol, some pickles and chutneys, some banana and coconut.