Cyrus Todiwala’s Khara Gos Ni Biryani with Welsh Lamb

  • Prep time 30 mins
  • Cook time 2 hrs
  • Serves 5+


  • 500g boneless leg of PGI Welsh Lamb, sinew, fat and gristle removed and cut into 2.5cm pieces (Get your butcher to cut some lamb bones for you and add these in.)
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 1 Cinnamon stick, 5cm piece
  • 3-4 green cardamom, flattened or just gently crushed
  • 3-4 whole cloves
  • 4-5 whole dried red chillies, large, broken into pieces
  • 2 onions, medium sized, chopped
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1½ tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp (level) turmeric powder
  • 1½ tbsp ginger and garlic paste (To make this take roughly 4 cloves of garlic and a 2.5cm piece of ginger, peeled and mix them together as finely as you can in a mortar to form a paste)
  • 2-3 fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 large potatoes, cut into large cubes, or into 4 lengthways (We would generally boil them first
    in their jackets, then cut them into chunks and fry them. You can shallow fry them and keep
    them ready to be added when assembling the biryani.)
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
  • Sea salt, to your taste, crushed and dissolved in some cold water and kept aside
  • 500g basmati rice, washed and soaked in water


This is a typical Parsee style simple lamb preparation that is adapted to make a lamb palav or biryani. It has to be one of my favourite lamb preparations for its simplicity and flavour. Its simplicity is perhaps what gives it the character and makes it a base dish that can be used in several other variations. For example, instead of potatoes you could add fried pieces of okra, squash or pumpkin. You can finish it with or without the rice and that is what makes it a unique dish that all Parsees grow up on.


  1. Clean and cut the lamb, unless the butcher is doing it for you, or you are buying pre-cut lamb. Try not to cut the cubes very large, but rather a 2.5cm dice will be sufficient.
  2. Add the oil to a heavy casserole pan and heat until the oil becomes hazy. Add all the whole spices as well as the red chillies.
  3. As soon as you see the spices swell, puff and change colour, add the onions and sauté until they get a good brown colour.
  4. Add the lamb and seal well turning occasionally so that it browns well.
  5. When the liquid has almost dried up, mix the three remaining spice powders in a little water to form a thin slurry and add to the pan, along with the ginger garlic paste, stir well and continue cooking.
  6. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes for 20-25 minutes. Alternatively, you can boil until just done and then deep-fry them, as we Parsees like to do.
  7. When the lamb and the masala is well sautéed, add salt and enough water or stock to just about cover the lamb, cover the pot with a tight lid and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Check from time to time, also ensuring that the sides of the pot are kept clean. When the lamb is nearly half done, season the rice and cook with a few bay leaves and salt to taste for 8-10 minutes, then drain immediately. As soon as the lamb is half done, add the chopped tomatoes and continue cooking, then add the potatoes (or if deep fried, then add when assembling the biryani).
  8. When the lamb is cooked, check for seasoning again. Stir in the coriander.
  9. Preheat your oven to between 120°C -130°C / 100°C – 110°C fan / Gas 1-2.
  10. Take a clean casserole pot that can hold all the layers and with a good lid so that it can be placed in the oven. Place some rice at the bottom of the pot and then add a layer with half the lamb on top. Spread well.
  11. Add some of the potatoes and then some rice. Repeat the layers, with some potatoes, finishing with the remaining rice. Spread evenly.
  12. Pour the saffron water all over the top and if you like, add a few small dollops of butter on top.
  13. Cover the pot and place it in the middle shelf of your oven. Bake for at least 50-60 minutes and then turn the oven off leaving the pot in the oven.
  14. Meanwhile, you can prepare the accompaniment whilst the rice is in the oven and this can be a nice raita and some red onion salad. Serve the lamb with the accompaniments.
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