Masour pulao (Layered minced lamb with rice)
- 1 tsp saffron strands
- 600g/1 lb 5oz basmati rice (uncooked weight)
- 50g/2oz red masour lentils or puy lentils, soaked according to packet instructions, or tinned green lentils
- 150ml/5fl oz vegetable oil
- 4 onions, thinly sliced
- 4 whole cinnamon sticks
- 6 to 8 whole cardamom pods
- 2 tsp fresh root ginger, finely grated
- 1 tsp garlic, crushed
- 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 2 green chillies, halved
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 450g/1 lb minced lamb
- 1 tbsp plain yoghurt
- handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
- small bunch mint leaves, chopped
For the garnish
- 3 boiled eggs, shelled and halved
Make the saffron water by soaking the saffron strands in 200ml/7fl oz of hot water. Leave to stand until needed.
Wash the rice in warm to hot water and leave to soak in a bowl of water while you prepare the other ingredients.
Add the lentils to a large pan filled with 400ml/14fl oz hot water (you can use some chicken stock instead of the water to give more flavour if you prefer). Place over a low to medium heat and cook for approximately 30-45 minutes, until the lentils are tender. If necessary, add more hot water during cooking. If using tinned lentils you can omit this step.
Heat two thirds of the vegetable oil in another large pan and heat until smoking hot. Add half the onions and fry until they are golden brown and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on kitchen paper to drain. Set aside.
Leave the oil in the pan and add the cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods. Allow the spices to sizzle for a few seconds then add the remaining raw onions and fry until golden brown.
Now add the garlic and ginger and stir for a few seconds.
Add the chopped tomatoes, green chillies, ground cumin, garam masala and red chilli powder and stir for a minute or two.
Add the minced lamb and cook until browned then add the yoghurt and stir through. Cover the pan and cook on a low heat for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to the boil and add the rice. Add three teaspoons of salt and a drizzle of oil to prevent the rice from sticking. Cook until the rice becomes tender but not completely cooked through - about three minutes. Drain well and leave to stand.
Add the remaining oil to the empty rice pan and add a layer of the crispy-fried onions and a drizzle of the saffron water.
Next add a thin layer of rice, then a thin layer of the lentils and some of the lamb mixture.
Repeat the above several times until all the ingredients have been used up and you have a number of layers. Finish with a layer of fried onions and sprinkle over the chopped coriander and mint.
Cover the pan with a clean, dry cloth and steam over a low heat for 10 - 15 minutes.
Transfer to a large platter and garnish with the boiled egg halves. Serve.