Leftover roast lamb: Lamb biryani

There was a special offer on lamb legs in the local supermarket, so I decided to roast one up for sunday dinner. However, as there’s only two of us there was a lot of leftover meat. I didn’t fancy making a shepherd’s pie, so had a look through my recipe collection for something that used leftover lamb, but couldn’t find anything.

Then in one of my magazine subscriptions, I found a recipe by food writer Ravinder Bhogal called ‘Ma’s lamb biryani’. The colours in the photo looked amazing and though the recipe called for fresh lamb, not cooked meat, I thought I’d try adapting the recipe. I’m so glad I gave this a go.

I’m really obsessed with pomegranate seeds at the moment as I love the little burst of flavour and texture they provide, which goes fabulously with spiced lamb. Not only is the flavour fantastic, but this recipe also made the meat stretch to another two meals, getting the most out of an expensive cut of meat. 

This recipe has a few stages and takes a bit of time, but is worth it as the end result makes you forget that you’re eating leftovers at all.

Recipe adapted from Ravinder Bhogal’s lamb biryani in Delicious magazine

Serves 4

  • Cals per portion: 533
  • Carbs per portion: 46g


  • 3 red onions, 2 finely sliced, 1 chopped into chunks
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3.5cm piece fresh ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1 green chilli
  • 50ml groundnut or rapeseed oil
  • leftover lamb leg or shoulder (preferably about 500g)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 125ml natural yoghurt
  • juice of half a lime
  • 2 vine tomatoes, diced
  • 5 dried apricots
  • small handful of fresh mint, chopped
  • small handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1.5 tbsp ghee, or clarified butter
  • Rosewater, for sprinkling
  • 4 medium free-range eggs, hard boiled and cut into quarters
  • Pomegranate seeds for sprinkling

For the rice

  • 25og basmati rice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1/2 tsp whole cloves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp salt
  • small pinch of saffron threads

For a spice mix

  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 dried red chilli
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3 tbsp dried rose petals


  1. In a blender, whizz the 1 chopped onion, garlic, ginger and chilli to a paste. Fry in a drizzle of oil over a medium heat for 8-10 minutes until brown and well cooked. Allow to cool.
  2. Put the lamb in a bowl with the fried paste, turmeric, yoghurt and lime juice. Mix well, then marinate in the fridge for a few hours.
  3. Meanwhile, wash the rice in several changes of cold water then soak for half an hour. Drain, then add to a pan of cold water along with the cinnamon, peppercorns, cardamom pods, cloves, cumin seeds and salt. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes until half-cooked (the rice should still have bite). Drain well, then spread over a large tray to cool and dry. Crush the saffron in a pestle and mortar, then add 3tbsp warm water. Mix well, then splash it over the rice to get contrasting colours.
  4. For the spice mix, toast the first 5 spices in a hot, dry pan until aromatic (around 30 seconds). Grind to a coarse blend using a spice grinder or a pestle and mortar.
  5. Heat the 50ml oil in a large frying pan, then fry the sliced onions over a medium-high heat until brown and crisp stirring now and then to prevent burning. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Set aside.
  6. Add the lamb and any marinating juices to the pan. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, chopped apricots, the toasted spices and the rest of the spice mix ingredients and 100ml water.
  7. Mix well, then cover and and gently simmer for half an hour until the sauce is thickened and reduced. Sprinkle over the mint and coriander, then stir. Taste and season.
  8. Preheat the oven to 160c and grease the base of a small casserole with 1tbsp ghee, then cover with one third of the rice. Pour over half of the meat and juices, one third of the onions and a sprinkling of rosewater. Cover with another third of the rice and dot with 2 tbsp of the ghee. Add the remaining meat, another third of the onions and another sprinkling of rosewater. Cover with the remaining rice and dot with a little extra ghee.
  9. Cover with a layer of greased tinfoil then top with a snug fitting lid to ensure the steam doesn’t escape. Bake for 30 min, then garnish with the eggs, pomegranate seeds, the remaining onions and some chopped coriander.