Lamb Biryani

There are so many lamb biryani recipes out there, so I feel a bit lame adding my own spin on it, especially as it’s not the most authentic, doesn’t come with an awesome story about my mother and grandmother cooking it all through my childhood, and probably isn’t the best out there. But I’ve tried many biryani recipes, and this is by far my favourite to cook at home, so I’m adding it here for ease of access. Also, Master12 just declared it his favourite meal, and that’s pretty big coming from such a little foodie.

Then again, this IS the kid whose rating scale for the past 10 years has been thumbs up/thumbs down, and almost nothing gets a thumbs down, so…

Either way, it IS a crowd pleaser. The rice is fluffy, the lamb is melt-in-your-mouth tender, the spices are warm, and the craisins are a sweet, tart contrast. There were no leftovers, even though it serves 5 people, and only 4 people live here. Miss9 doesn’t eat as quickly as her brother and dad, and missed out, much to her chagrin. There was pouting. It was that good. It’s also relatively cheap (as far as lamb dishes go, and assuming you have a well stocked spice rack), very quick and super easy, and pretty low calorie at 480 calories per (not small) serve.

Ingredients

1/2 cup Greek yoghurt (plus 5tsp greek yoghurt, to serve )

500g lamb steaks, cut into small dice

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste, this isn’t super spicy but does have a kick)

1 tsp cumin

1tsp garam masala

2tsp cumin

1/2tsp cloves

2tsp ground coriander

white pepper

Salt, to taste

1tbs olive oil

1 onion, finely diced

1 cinnamon stick

1 1/2 cups basmati rice

2 3/4 cups beef stock

1/3 cup craisins

50g baby spinach

1/3 cup flaked almonds

5tsp mango chutney, to serve

Method

  1. In a large glass or ceramic bowl, combine lamb, yoghurt and spices (except for cinnamon stick). Reserve.
  2. In a large fry pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cinnamon stick, and cook for 5 minutes until onion is soft and translucent.
  3. Add rice, and cook, stirring, for one minute.
  4. Stir in lamb mixture. Add stock and craisins, stirring to combine well. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes until water has been absorbed and lamb is cooked through.
  5. Turn off the heat and remove the lid. Cover the pan with a clean, dry tea towel and replace lid. Let stand for 5 minutes.
  6. Fluff the rice by mixing well. Add spinach and almonds, and stir until spinach has wilted.
  7. Transfer to bowls and serve, topped with extra yoghurt, mango chutney and black pepper.

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Plum and Red Wine Lamb Shanks

Every school holidays, I spend a fair bit of time with my dad, and one of the little things we do together is go to nice cafe in Windsor (Simon’s), hit up the lolly store opposite while Dad has a conniption over the price of old fashioned sweets that he loved as a kid and bought with currency that was removed from circulation in 1966, then drive up to M & A Butchery in Wilberforce to buy meat while Dad has a conniption over me doing things like spending $20 on a rabbit to cook “for fun”, when he was forced to eat it as a child due to being so poor. I’m not too sure how or when this tradition came to be, but I really do treasure it so.

An extension of this tradition is that I buy and cook lamb shanks on “abattoir day”, largely because the shanks from this place are large, meaty and relatively cheap, unlike what I usually see in the supermarket. I have many recipes for shanks due to a number of old cookbooks that say infuriating things like “try lamb shanks for a cheap and tasty meal”, which pairs beautifully with my dad’s third conniption of the trip: “I can’t believe the price! I used to feed these to Jedda (a dog who died long before my birth) because they were so cheap!” This plum and wine recipe, however, is the Official Family Shank – a firm favourite by far. The sweetness of the jam complements the richness of the lamb, and the peppery undertones bring it all together. Which brings me to the wine: I prefer to use a shiraz, to cut through the sweet, but have made it with several types of wine, and never had a bad experience. Whatever you do, make it a good one, because you really can taste it. It’s worthy of a decent wine, anyway. It’s a crowd pleaser (although for economics, it’d best be a small crowd!) and I often pull it out for dinner guests, and occasions like Quarant-Easter, which was spent in lockdown but still deserved a little pomp and circumstance. I tried to work out the calories, but there are a lot of variables: the size of shanks aren’t standardised and you don’t actually consume all of the sauce, so the best I can come up with, is that with mash and veg, you probably are eating about 700 calories. Not an everyday dish, that’s for sure, but not too bad for a special treat.

Oh, and the leftovers. The best sammich I’ve ever had. Seriously.

Ingredients

4 Frenched lamb shanks

4tbs flour

2 tbs olive oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

1tsp dried rosemary leaves

1tsp dried thyme leaves

1 cup red wine

1 1/2 cup chicken stock

2tbs worcestershire sauce

1 cup plum jam

Pepper, to taste

Mashed potato and steamed veggies, to serve

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160C.
  2. Dust shanks with flour, and shake off excess.
  3. Heat 1tbs oil in a large, flameproof casserole dish over medium heat. In batches (depending on size of shanks and dish), brown shanks all over, and transfer to a plate.
  4. Heat remaining oil and cook onions for five minutes, until translucent. Add wine and bring to boil. Add stock, herbs, jam, worcestershire sauce, and pepper (generously), and cook for one minute.
  5. Return shanks to the dish. Cover and transfer to oven. Cook for one hour. Remove from oven, baste, and continue cooking uncovered for 30 minutes.
  6. Serve with mashed potatoes and vegetables.

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Deluxe Greek Salad

There’s really no other way of saying it – Summers in Sydney suck. It’s not just hot – it’s scorching, muggy and unrelenting down here in Satan’s armpit.

Not exactly the best conditions for food-spiration. Who wants to turn on the oven or stove when it’s been 40 degrees for weeks on end? But also, who wants another bloody salad?

That would be me.

There’s no such thing as too many salads. Salads are magical. However, I do feel the need to change it all up a bit. While I could eat salad five nights in a row, it cannot be the same salad. Hence all the varieties on this blog, with more to come, I can guarantee it.

I’m really rather partial to this particular salad, as it takes all of 5 minutes to make, barely uses any heat, and is hearty enough that you don’t need to serve it with bread, although nobody would fault you if you did. It’s a 250 calorie salad, 329 with the dressing. As I’m not a huge fan of salad dressings or vinaigrette, I usually skip it altogether, but I am well aware that I am an anomaly in this situation.

serves 4

Ingredients

1tsp olive oil

500g heart smart diced lamb

Salt and pepper, to taste

150g mushrooms

60g baby spinach

1 yellow capsicum, sliced

1 cucumber, sliced

250g cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

2 small beetroot, roasted (or, purchased pickled), cut into small chunks

60g feta

Dressing

1tbs olive oil

1tbs lemon juice

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2tsp brown sugar

Method

  1. To make dressing, place ingredients in a small jug and whisk to combine.
  2. Heat oil in a frying pan. Season meat with salt and pepper. Add meat and mushrooms to pan, and stir occasionally until lamb is cooked to your liking.
  3. Combine all other ingredients except for feta together in a large bowl.
  4. Add lamb and mushrooms. Sprinkle with crumbled feta.

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