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Lamb Biryani and Cabernet Franc

Lamb Biryani

For the upcoming Jan 26th feast lamb is the choice de jour, and thanks to the suggestion from the team at The sector7g experience it’s Lamb Biryani time.

We’ve had this recipe from Persiana previously to great success, so it’s no hardship to break it out again. No photos as yet, we will document properly on the day.

Serves 6-8


  • vegetable oil – although we’ll use olive oil
  • 6 large onions
  • 800g lamb neck fillets cut into 2.5 cm pieces
  • 1 tbsp green cardamom pods
  • 6 black cardamom pods
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 200g Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tsp ground sea salt flakes
  • 600g basmati rice
  • 2 pinches saffron threads
  • 125g butter


Preheat a large saucepan and add 250ml of olive oil. Chop 4 of the onions in half and thinly slice into 5mm half moons. Fry the onion slices in the oil (the oil should just cover them), stirring every few minutes until they are golden brown and crispy. Remove the onions and drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper and set aside.

Pour out the oil, leaving just enough to coat the base of the saucepan. Dice the remaining two onions and fry them over medium high heat until translucent. Add the diced lamb and sear it until it begins to turn brown. Put in the black and green cardamom pods, bay leaves, turmeric, cumin seeds and cinnamon sticks and mix well. Pour in just enough water to barely cover the meat and cook the lamb for about 1.5 hours until just tender. Leave to cool. Once cooled add the yoghurt to the lamb, stir well and set aside.

Fill a large saucepan with boiling water and add the rice with a generous handful of crumbled sea salt. Boil for 6-8 minutes until the rice is parboiled. The grains will change from a dullish white to a more brilliant white, while becoming slightly elongated and begin to soften.

Drain the rice and rinse it immediately under cold running water to wash off all the excess starch until it is cool. Line the bottom of the saucepan with non-stick baking paper and set aside.

Add 2 tbsp of boiling water to a small cup. Grind the saffron with a mortar and pestle and pour over the boiling water and leave to infuse.

Back to the rice, using the paper lined saucepan pour in a generous drizzle of oil and a couple of knobs of butter. Add 1 tablespoon of sea salt flakes. Scatter in enough rice to cover the base of the pan with a good layer, add a drizzle of the saffron water over this layer of rice. Take the yoghurt marinated pre-cooked lamb and devide it into two portions. Layer one portion over the rice, then cover with a thin layer of rice, sprinkle over some more saffron water, then add a generous layer of crispy onions and dot more butter on top. Repeat the layers until the rice, lamb, crispy onion and butter are all used up.

Wrap the pan lid in a tea towel, cover the pan and cook the rice on the lowest temperature possible on gas, or low medium with electric, for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the rice is cooked.

When ready to serve, either flip the rice on a serving dish or decant onto a serving platter. Scape the crispy tahdig from the base of the pan and serve it onto the top of the rice.

And to go with it we have a Cabernet Franc from our winetasting excursion at Squitchy Lane in the Yarra Valley

Squitchy Lane Reserve Cabernet Franc, Yarra Valley AUS, 2019, $45, 9/10


Lamb Shank, Black Garlic and Tomato Tagine with Gamay Noir

Lamb Shank, Black Garlic and Tomato Tagine.

Today we return to Persiana to try the Lamb Shanks which were amongst the recipes that had this book calling to us. After the success of the Shirazi Salad naturally our hopes were high for the shanks.

Serves 4

Shanks a cooking


olive oil
2 Large Onions, diced
3 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp tumeric
1 tsp ground cinnamon
6 lamb shanks
sea salt and black pepper
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of thyme
2 x 400g cans of tomatoes
6 large tomatoes halved
4 tbsp syrupy balsamic vinegar
2 black garlic bulbs, cloves peeled


In a large saucepan add a some olive oil and fry the onions over medium heat for a couple of minutes before adding the dry spices and the lamb shanks. Brown the lamb shanks on all sides then fold the onion and spice mixture over them again and season with the sea salt and black pepper.

Add the bay leaves, thyme, canned and fresh tomatoes and balsamic vinegar, then pour in enough water to cover the meat. Reduce the heat to low-medium, place a lid on the saucepan and cook for two hours, stirring every 30 minutes to prevent sticking.

We weren’t sure what black garlic bulbs were, nor did we have any. So we took two normal garlic bulbs, peeled the cloves and fried them separately in olive oil until lightly browned.

Once cooked, add the soft black garlic cloves, stirring them into the sauce. Add a little more weater to the saucepan if needed. Taste the tagine and adjust the seasoning if required., then cook the shanks for a further hour without the lid on before serving.

We served ours on a bed of potato mash with some sprigs of parsley.

And the taste? I’m going to use words in a futile attempt to do justice to the taste. In the process of the shanks slowly cooking they absorbed the amazingly rich tomato flavour deep within them and the sauce was a richly flavoured thick broth. The best shanks I can remember having had anywhere, any place.

And to go with it we tried our first Gamay Noir, and its rich flavour did a stirling job of accompanying the Tagine.

Vinoque Gamay Noir, Yarra Valley AUS, , $25, 8/10