Kofta, apri­cot and prune biryani

The Mail on Sunday - You - - Food Kirstie Special -

One of the best things about do­ing an an­nual Christ­mas show is learn­ing new recipes for food and cock­tails from a selec­tion of bril­liant pro­fes­sion­als. High on my list of favourites is An­gela Ma­lik, who is such a kind and en­cour­ag­ing teacher. I hope my pas­sion for all things In­dian comes through loud and clear in the book, but learn­ing this recipe from An­gela re­ally changed my cook­ing be­cause there is noth­ing you can­not cook in her masala sauce. Ben brings all sorts of stuff home – rab­bit, pheas­ant, mut­ton and var­i­ous kinds of fish – and all have been chucked in the masala and come out the bet­ter for it. Biryani is an all-in-one rice dish con­tain­ing meat and veg. An­gela’s ver­sion, with lamb kof­tas, dried fruit and masala sauce, is su­perb. I par­tic­u­larly like the crusty bits of rice at the bot­tom of the pan. SERVES FOR LAY­ER­ING THE BIRYANI 3 or­anges, zest of 2 and juice of all 3 100g pit­ted prunes 100g dried apri­cots 1 tbsp sun­flower oil, for fry­ing 2 onions, peeled and sliced 50g but­ter FOR THE RICE 450g bas­mati rice 3 litres water 2 tsp salt 2 black or green car­damom pods 2 x 5cm cin­na­mon sticks 4 cloves 2 bay leaves bunch of fresh co­rian­der, stalks chopped and leaves roughly chopped

Start by soak­ing the fruit for lay­er­ing the biryani and pre­par­ing the rice. Put half the orange zest into a bowl, then add all the orange juice and the dried fruit. Set aside. Wash the rice in a sieve, tip into a large bowl and cover with cold water. Set aside.

Now pre­pare the masala sauce. Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the onions and fry over a mod­er­ate heat, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally, un­til golden brown. This will take at least 10 min­utes. Add the gin­ger, gar­lic and whole spices. Fry for about a minute, un­til you feel the gin­ger paste start­ing to stick to the pan. Add the toma­toes and water. Cover and cook on a medium heat, mash­ing the mix­ture down ev­ery now and then, un­til it becomes a pulp, about 10 min­utes. Add the ground spices, the salt and yo­ghurt and stir thor­oughly.

To make the kof­tas, put the lamb in a bowl and add the onion, egg, gin­ger, gar­lic, spices, co­rian­der and salt. Mix well. Shape the mince mix­ture into balls about 3cm-5cm in di­am­e­ter. Heat the oil in a large fry­ing pan. When hot, fry the kof­tas, in batches, on all sides for 2-3 min­utes. Set aside on a plate.

While the kof­tas are cook­ing, fry the ‘lay­er­ing’ onion in the oil in a saucepan un­til golden, at least 10 min­utes. Stir fre­quently, then set aside once done.

Drain the rice. Boil the 3 litres of water in a large saucepan with the salt. Add the spices, bay leaves and some of the chopped co­rian­der leaves to the pan. Once it reaches a rolling boil, add the rice. Bring back to the boil and cook for about 4 min­utes: it should still be hard in the mid­dle. Drain the rice and

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