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Shamiana lamb pullao

Shamiana lamb pullao
Los Angeles Times

A heavenly Himalayan valley, a beautiful couple, the perfect hour as augured by the horoscopes, mesmerizing mystical music, a sublimely delicious banquet -- and voila! It's a Hindu wedding in Kashmir. Or, rather, it used to be. Sadly, Hindus in ... Read more

Total time: About 2 1/2 hours | Serves 6
  • 2 pounds lean shoulder of lamb, bone in and sliced about 3/4-inch thick (4 to 5 slices)
  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 2 tablespoons ground fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
  • 1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
  • 5 cloves
  • 5 crushed cardamom pods, divided
  • Salt to taste
  • 6 tablespoons ghee, or clarified butter
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 8 whole peppercorns
  • 1 cup basmati rice, washed and drained
  • Good pinch saffron soaked in a quarter cup of very hot water
  • Canola oil to deep-fry onions
  • 1 large red onion, halved lengthwise and sliced thinly
  • 3/4 cup blanched almonds
  • 6 to 9 hard-boiled eggs, sliced (for garnish)

Step 1Place the meat in a 6-quart saucepan. Add 3 cups water. In a medium bowl, mix the ginger, fennel and cumin with the yogurt and add to saucepan. Stir well. Add the cloves and 3 cardamom pods. Bring to a rolling boil, add salt, stir, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook at a good simmer until the meat is tender, about an hour.

Step 2When done, remove the meat from the gravy with a slotted spoon, and set aside in a bowl. Measure the gravy (you should have about 4 cups) and set aside.

Step 3Heat the ghee on high heat in a 6-quart saucepan. Add the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, the remaining 2 cardamom pods and the peppercorns. Stir-fry for a few seconds. Add the meat and saute until a little crisp and golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Be careful, the pan contents may splatter while cooking.

Step 4Add the rice to the meat. Stir-fry briskly until the rice is well fried, about 2 minutes.

Step 5Take 2 cups of liquid from the meat gravy, and add to the rice along with 1 teaspoon salt. Stir well.

Step 6Add the saffron with its water to the rice. Stir well. Bring the rice to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked. (After the rice, or pullao, is cooked, do not stir or you will break the grains and make it lumpy.)

Step 7Meanwhile, prepare the onions and nuts. Pour enough canola oil into a wok or deep-sided skillet to come up the sides a few inches. Heat the oil on medium-high until it shimmers (about 225 to 230 degrees with a thermometer). Deep-fry the sliced onion slowly, stirring often, for 15 to 20 minutes. The onion should fry slowly until all the moisture has evaporated and it turns reddish and crisp without burning; turn the heat down if the onions are frying too quickly. Remove the crisped onions with a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towels to drain excess oil. Do not cover, as this will make the onions soggy.

Step 8Fry the nuts in the same oil at the same heat for a few minutes until they just start to color with a slight golden hue. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towels to drain.

Step 9With a large slotted spoon, heap the pullao onto a large platter. Sprinkle onions on top of the pullao and decorate the edge with sliced eggs and nuts. Serve hot.

Note: Ghee, or clarified butter, is available at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, well-stocked supermarkets and Indian grocery stores. Or you can clarify the butter yourself: Melt it in a small saucepan over low heat, skim the milk solids off the top and ladle the butter carefully out of the pan without disturbing the remaining milk solids and water at the bottom of the pan. You will want to clarify about 1 1/2 sticks to get the 6 tablespoons needed below.


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