Venison biryani

Serves 4-6

This is not the biryani you would find in your local curry house. Biryani usually gives the impression that it's just leftovers heated up without much love or care. This version makes an impressive dinner party dish – especially if you lift the lid off at the table to reveal the fluffy rice and saffron with all its fragrant spices.

Feel free to use cubes of boneless chicken thighs, instead of lamb or mutton – it would work just as well.

1kg boneless venison from a single joint like the shoulder, cut into rough 3cm cubes
30g fresh ginger, scraped and finely grated
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2tbsp garam masala
tsp chilli powder
tsp ground turmeric
4 small green, medium heat chillies, chopped
A good pinch of curry leaves
1tsp ground cumin
6 green cardamom pods
4tbsp chopped coriander and mint leaves
500g basmati rice
4 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
200g ghee or butter
250ml thick natural yoghurt
Pinch of saffron soaked in 2 tbsp hot milk

For the sealing dough

200g wholewheat flour
1tsp salt

Mix the venison in a stainless steel bowl with all the herbs and spices (apart from the saffron). Cover and marinade in the fridge overnight. Wash the rice in a bowl of cold water, until the water is clear; drain. Heat the ghee in a large frying pan. Add the onions and fry for 10 minutes on a medium to high heat, stirring every so often, until they are golden brown. Drain in a sieve over a bowl to reserve the ghee.

Remove the venison and reserve the marinade. Reheat the ghee, reserving a couple of tablespoons for later, then fry the venison, a few pieces at a time, lightly browning them. Transfer the venison into an ovenproof dish with a lid. Add the yoghurt, browned onions and the reserved marinade and cook on a low heat for 1 hours, until the venison is tender, then remove from the heat.

In another pan, bring enough salted water to the boil to cover the rice. Add the rice, stir well and bring back to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, drain and spread the rice over the meat. Spoon over the reserved ghee, and saffron-infused milk.

Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7.

Make the sealing dough by mixing the flour and salt with enough water to form a smooth dough. Roll it out into a sausage shape to fit around the cooking pot. Press the dough around the edges of the pot and press the lid lightly on the dough. Put the pot over a high heat, bring to the boil; transfer to the oven for 40 minutes. Break the dough seal to serve.

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