Saturday, August 28, 2010

August 17, 2010: 'Lamb' korma pilaf

Cindy came home from Global Green with a bag of faux-lamb and a plan. She'd been excited about Camellia Panjabi's lamb pilaf for some time and a bag of frozen 'lamb' seemed like the perfect excuse to give it a try. We supplemented the faux meat with a handful of mushrooms and otherwise stuck reasonably close to the recipe.  It's a fair bit of work, although I managed to squeeze it in pre-netball on a Tuesday night (give yourself 90 minutes or so I guess). The results? Aromatic and amazingly full of flavour but texturally a bit challenging - the fake lamb turned out much tougher than we hoped, making the meal authentically chewy. Still, the combination of the rich clove and cinnamon flavours and the sharper chilli and ginger bite, made this a winning recipe. We're already plotting to have another shot at this with a less meaty filling - possibly just mushrooms, or maybe a combination of eggplant and mushies. We'll keep you posted. The main thing to note is that this is a wonderfully spicy treat and our first effort was almost the perfect winter meal - we just need to work on the texture.

Lamb korma pilaf

400g basmati rice
4 onions, chopped finely
Thumb-sized piece of ginger, minced
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 green chillies, finely chopped
5 cloves
5 cardamom pods
1 5cm cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
600g faux-lamb
400g mushrooms
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1-2 teaspoons chilli powder
1 teaspoon mace powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg powder
100ml yoghurt
3 tomatoes, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
2 bay leaves
a few strands of saffron
a splash of milk

Wash the rice and leave to soak in cold water for 30 minutes.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a big pot and fry the onions until they're soft and medium to dark brown. Add the ginger, garlic, chillies, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon and fry for a few minutes. Add the 'lamb' and mushrooms and stir-fry for a few minutes, until it's well coated in the onions and spices.

Add the spice powders (coriander, cumin, mace, chilli and nutmeg) and mix well. Add in 1/4 cup of water and stir, simmering for a couple of minutes.

Add the yoghurt, tomatoes and salt to the pot, stirring through. Cover and leave to cook for 15-20 minutes, adding water if everything dries up. When everything is cooked, it should be thick and spicy and not a runny, saucy gravy.

Drain the rice and put it in a pot with an equal volume of water and the bay leaves. Bring to the boil, add the turmeric, salt and a splash of oil and simmer uncovered, until the water has been soaked up and the rice is about 3/4 cooked.

Soak the saffron in the milk and set aside.

Take a large casserole dish and brush the bottom with oil. Put half the rice in the bottom and spread evenly. Add the spiced lamb on top and smooth it out, before adding the rest of the rice on top. Cover and cook at 160 degrees for 20 minutes (until the rice is completely cooked).

Remove from the oven and sprinkle the saffron/milk over the top before serving.


  1. Mmm. My boyfriend makes one with a filling of nuts (mostly cashews, a bit of sunflower seeds), cauliflower and usually capsicum... so good.

  2. I love the idea of making this with just mushrooms - Indian spices always pique my interest. It looks wonderfully authentic, too :)

  3. I bought the same lamb from Global Green & yes it is really chewy! I also have a pilaf on the menu next week to use some up.

  4. I love these layered rice dishes. They always feel a bit special and make me wish I had a glass dish that you can see the layers in! Even better with Indian spices - mace is unusual - I think I bought some mace in Scotland and left it there because I have so little use for it.

    I will look forward to your less meaty version - I would be inclined to use some beans such as chickpeas!

  5. All these suggestions is really cool! I have not tried faux lamb here before. And for a meat eater, im always curious about the flavours that goes into a non meat dish.

  6. hi, Cindy & Michael

    i m your new reader, katherine.
    i connected to your blog through the link on the breakfast blog.
    love all your sharings:)

  7. Penny, that sounds delicious! I love what nuts and seeds bring to these kinds of dishes. :-)

    Hannah, the mushrooms were seriously good - we wouldn't hesitate to replace the 'lamb' entirely with them next time.

    Vicki, I don't think we'll buy the lamb again (though I'll certainly be going back to Global Green for other treats!).

    Johanna, I really did wish for a clear dish! It was difficult to photograph this at the right revealing angle. :-D

    Penny, faux meat can be fun but we probably won't bother with this one again. :-P

    Welcome Katherine! Hope we'll see you here again soon. :-)

  8. Hey, I just went through the blog, and wanted you guys to know one simple detail - there is no such thing as "Curry" in India. We all call it something else altogether, and the basic cooking procedure for the dish you have made can be actually called a "Biryani" according to the layered rice structure. Anyway, I suggest using one thing that is sort of a sure-shot crowd pleaser - Paneer or Tofu Cubes instead of Lamb. And do use dry-fried nuts and rosewater if possible, that lends a lovely aroma.

  9. Welcome, panu! And thanks for those ideas. We love eating paneer and tofu in our Indian-style meals. :-)