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Lamb Biryani Pie

Introduction & method

Inspired by the dum cooking method of Hyderabadi biryani, where the lid is sealed to the pot with dough, this pie does away with the pot altogether and bakes the biryani inside a pie case. Carb overload? You decide.

Lamb Biryani Pie Recipe

Make Crispy Onions

The marinade for the meat requires crispy fried onions so you'll need to do those first. Top, tail and peel the onions and thinly slice them - a mandoline is perfect for this. Heat several centimetres of oil in a large frying pan or wok on medium heat. Place a few bits of onion in the oil and when they start sizzling add the rest of the onions. If you have more onions than can comfortably fit in your pan then you'll need to cook them in batches. Turn the onions frequently and after 10-15 minutes they should start to turn brown. When they are a nice deep brown, remove them from the oil and drain them.

Marinade the Meat

Cut your meat into small cubes, about a centimetre (half an inch). If your meat is on the bone, as chops, say, keep them intact but remove any fat. Slice the chillies, chop the coriander and mint, crush the cardomom pods and mince the ginger and garlic. In a bowl, mix all of the filling ingredients well then add the meat and get it coated all over. Place the bowl in the fridge and leave for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight.

Part-cook the Rice

Rinse the rice in several changes of cold water until it is clear. Let the rice soak in water for 30 minutes. Put the spices in a tea-ball or wrap them in cheesecloth. Put plenty of salted water in a saucepan, add a teaspoon of turmeric and the other spices and bring it to the boil. When the water is boiling add the rice and cook for 3-4 minutes until it is partly cooked but still has some bite. Drain the rice and allow to cool.

Cook the Meat

Scoop the meat and marinade into a heavy-bottomed pan, add half a cup of water and simmer the pan for an hour until the lamb is tender.

Make the Pastry Cases

Sprinkle flour on your worktop. Take a quarter of the dough and roll it into a rectangle about 13cm (5 inches) wide and 26cm (10 inches) long, assuming you have 12cm diameter tins. Use an upturned tin as a guide to cut two lids. Take half of the remaining dough, roll it out and use it to line the bottom and sides of one tin. Press the pastry down, being careful not to fold, tear or break it. Trim off the excess around the top, leaving a narrow rim to fix the lid onto. Repeat for the second tin then put both tins and their lids in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.

Assemble the Pies

Spread a layer of rice in the bottom of each pie case. Then use half of the filling mixture to cover the rice in each tin. Sprinkle chopped coriander and mint all over the meat, then make a layer of onions. Paint the inside of the top of the case with eggwash (a beaten egg with a splash of milk). Layer more rice almost up to the top of the pastry shell, then press the lid in place and squeeze the edge against the base. Do any fancy crimping you like. Paint the top of the pies with eggwash.

Bake the Pies

Heat your oven to 180°C (356°F) for a fan/convection oven or airfryer, 200°C (392°F) conventional, gas 6. Bake the pies for 35-40 minutes until the top is golden brown. Leave the tins to cool slightly for about 5 minutes, then remove the pies from their tins.

The video above is from the Keef Cooks YouTube channel. Click here to see the video recipe of Lamb Biryani Pie on YouTube.

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Ingredients & Info

 250 grams plain white (all-purpose) flour
 125 grams lard
 125 ml water
 1 tsp salt
 180 grams basmati rice
 1 tsp salt
 4 cardomom pods
 half a cinnamon stick
 1 tsp cumin seeds
 4 cloves
 3 bay leaves
 1 tsp turmeric
 2 litres water
 250 grams lamb
 4 tbsp plain yoghurt
 1 tsp salt
 4 cardomom pods
 half a cinnamon stick
 1 tsp cumin seeds
 4 cloves
 6 curry leaves
 1 green birdseye chilli
 1 red birdseye chilli
 1½ medium-sized red onion
 3 cloves garlic
 thumb-sized piece ginger
 juice of half a lemon
 small handful fresh coriander/cilantro
 small handful fresh mint
 1 tsp turmeric


Oil for frying

US Customary/Imperial

Makes 2 x 12cm (4¾
Prep time: 30 minutes.
Marinating meat/soaking rice time: 2 hours 30 minutes.
Cooking time: 1 hour 40 minutes.
Total time: 4 hours 40 minutes.