American Lamb Shoulder Biryani


6 to 8

American Lamb Shoulder Biryani



Masala Paste (makes about 1 quart):

  • 8 ounces buttermilk
  • 4 ounces peeled pistachios
  • 9 whole cloves
  • 6 dried chilies
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon cardamom seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon Italian fennel seeds
  • 3 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon, whole
  • 2 teaspoons black sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 quart olive oil 


  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock (bring to light simmer)
  • 1-1/2 cups Basmati rice
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 vanilla bean, split open
  • 1 cup mineral or spring water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt 

Lamb Biryani:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium sweet onion, julienned
  • 4 tomatoes, peeled and blanched
  • 2 heirloom carrots, cut into 1/4-inch quarters
  • 6 tablespoons Masala Paste (see recipe)
  • 2 teaspoons ginger paste
  • 2 teaspoons garlic paste
  • 2 cups lamb or chicken broth 

Yogurt Dressing (makes 1 cup):

  • 1 cup Greek plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon basil, minced
  • 1 tablespoon mint, minced
  • 1 teaspoon rose water
  • 1 teaspoon saffron 

Crust & Garnish:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fine cracked peppercorns
  • 1 butter puff pastry sheets


For Masala Paste: In a pan, heat buttermilk. Pour over pistachios; let steep for one hour. 

In a bowl, combine cloves, chilies, bay leaves, cardamom, cumin, fennel, peppercorns, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, sesame seeds and red pepper flakes. Heat a large nonstick pan over a medium heat; add spices. Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring constantly, until lightly toasted and fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Place spices on baking tray to cool. 

In a high-speed blender, add spices and oil; pulse, scraping a few times from the side. Add pistachios and buttermilk; process until a smooth paste. 

For Rice: In a pan, bring stock to a simmer. In a bowl, cover rice with warmed stock; cover with plastic wrap. Let sit 15 to 20 minutes. 

In a 4-quart saucepan, add cloves, cardamom, star anise and vanilla bean; cover with water. Add salt; bring to a boil over medium heat. Steep 30 to 45 minutes; strain liquid into another pot. Add rice to pot with reserved liquid; cover and cook for 9 to 10 minutes. Set aside; remove cover. 

For Yogurt Sauce: In a bowl, mix yogurt, basil, mint, rose water and saffron. 

For Lamb: In a braising pan, heat oil with butter. Add onions; cook over medium heat, stirring, for about 15 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and carrots. Add Masala Paste, ginger and garlic; cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Add pulled lamb confit and broth; simmer for 10 minutes. Let cool slightly. 

To Assemble: In a round 10-1/2-inch casserole dish, add layer of lamb mixture followed by one-third of the yogurt sauce and layer of rice. Repeat, saving last third of yogurt sauce to top the rice. 

For Crust: In small bowl, whisk egg with olive oil. In small bowl, mix salt, oregano and peppercorns. Roll out puff pastry creating a circle large enough to cover your casserole dish, or individual pots. Dampen the edges of the casserole dish with egg wash then drape the pastry over the filling. Seal the pastry around the dish by pressing or crimping. Brush the top of the pastry with egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt mixture. 

Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes; ensure pastry is golden and crisp on top. Let rest for 5 minutes and serve.

USDA recommends the following time and temperature parameters

Ground Lamb

Internal temperature of 160°F

All Other Cuts

Internal temperature of 145°F, with a 3 minute rest

American Lamb Shoulder Biryani
thermometer timer illustration
Visit our Lamb Cooking Time & Temperature page for recipe inspiration and tips on preparing the perfect lamb.

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