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Lamb Pilaf

Lamb Pilaf

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I didn’t expect to be posting two lamb recipes back to back. My sister-in-law requested that I make them some Lamb Pilaf and because everybody loves this dish so much I had to share the recipe.

As I never know when I will get to make enough to feed a crowd again. This quantity of Pilaf is only made if I am having guests over. I don’t eat Lamb and my 18 year old thinks any Biryani or Pilaf is pure poison. Don’t ask my why, maybe he ate too much in his past life…haha!

How can anyone hate a Biryani or Pilaf? This Lamb Pilaf is always a hit with my guests and family members. I often get requests to cook this dish. So much so I think I have mastered the recipe over the years.

I love the fact that you mix everything together and cook it in the oven. It makes this dish so much more delicious. My home smells like an Indian restaurant, that aroma of spices and butter….I love it 🙂 At least it’s not early in the morning.

Lamb Pilaf, a combination of lamb curry and rice cooked the south african way

This Lamb Pilaf can be cooked totally on the stovetop but trust me cooking it for an hour in the oven makes all the difference. I don’t always do it, sometimes I am just lazy or there’s too much to do so I skip this step.

If I could though it’s the only way I will cook all my Biryanis and Pilaf. I have mentioned this before but if you’ve missed it, not much difference between a Pilaf and Biryani. Biryani is layered and a Pilaf is all mixed together.

I prefer to cook my lamb on a low heat for a long time until the lamb is tender and falling off the bone. My little secret to cooking a good Pilaf is to add butter and fresh herbs, thyme and mint is my favorite herbs.

I always have them in my fridge and I sometimes I buy it even if I don’t need it, that tells you just how crazy I am about fresh herbs. I also have herbs planted in pots. This dish has so much flavor. If I was still eating lamb I could probably eat this for breakfast, lunch and supper. If you do try it please drop me a mail and let me know what you think of it.

Lamb Pilaf, a combination of lamb curry and rice cooked the south african wayYou can try more of my popular Indian Recipes:

Durban Lamb Curry

Vegetable Pilaf (South African Recipe)

Gadra (Borlotti) Bean Curry

Lamb Pilaf, a combination of lamb curry and rice cooked the south african way
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5 from 1 vote

Lamb Pilaf

Delicious lamb curry cooked with aromatic spices, mixed with rice and cooked in the oven. Definitely a crowd pleaser
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Keyword indian lamb dish, lamb pilaf
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 4 hours
Servings 12



  • 3 cups long grain or Basmati Rice
  • 8 cardamom pods
  • 3x 5cm pieces cinnamon sticks
  • salt
  • egg yellow food colouring
  • 3 tbsp butter

Lamb Curry

  • 2 kg lamb cut into pieces
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp light olive oil
  • 4x 5cm pieces cinnamon sticks
  • 4 star aniseed
  • 4 black cardamom
  • 6 bay leaf
  • 2 large onion finely chopped
  • 3 sprigs curry leaf
  • 2 green chillies
  • 10 sprigs thyme
  • 3 tbsp ginger/garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp medium masala See Note 2
  • 2 tbsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • 6 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 teaspoon ground fennel/soomph
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 5 roma tomatoes soak in boiling water for 2 minutes, rinse under cold water, remove skin and blend
  • 1 cup plain yogurt full fat or low fat
  • 1 cup loosely packed mint leaves
  • salt
  • 6 potatoes each cut into 4 cubes
  • 2 small onion fried until brown and crisp
  • 2 cups water See Note 1
  • fresh coriander for garnishing



  • Rinse your rice well. Add salt, cinnamon sticks and cardamom to the rice and cook as per package instructions until the rice is half cooked
  • Strain the rice, add the 3 tablespoons butter, a sprinkle of egg yellow food coloring and set aside

Lamb Curry

  • Heat 3 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon light olive oil in a large pot
  • Add the whole spices, cinnamon, bay leaf, star aniseed and black cardamom. Fry until fragrant
  • Add the curry leaf, chilli, thyme and onion. Fry until the onion is golden brown
  • Add the ginger/garlic paste and sauté for a minute
  • Add the masala, chilli powder, fennel, turmeric, cumin, coriander and garam masala. Mix well and fry the spices for a minute. Add a drop of water to prevent the spices from burning
  • Add the lamb pieces. Mix well and allow it to fry with the spices for 5 to 8 minutes
  • Add yogurt, tomatoes and mint
  • Season with salt. Cover and simmer on low heat for an hour to an hour and a half until lamb is soft and tender. Add some water if the curry is drying out. I didn't add any water to mine


  • Boil potatoes until they are half cooked. Remove the skin, cut each potato into 4 pieces. Sprinkle with some salt and shallow fry them until slightly brown. Set aside


  • Thinly slice the 2 extra onion and fry in about half a cup of oil on a low to medium heat until they are golden brown and crisp. Add a sprinkle of salt halfway through

Lamb Pilaf

  • Mix the cooked lamb and the potatoes together with the rice. Pour in 2 cups of water. Sprinkle the crispy onion on top. Cook in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for an hour or until the rice and potatoes are cooked. Garnish with coriander
    Lamb Pilaf, a combination of lamb curry and rice cooked the south african way


  1. The amount of water you add before cooking in the oven could vary. I added 2 cups as potatoes take much longer to cook as I am at higher altitude. You may also need more than 2 cups of water if your rice was fairly undercooked. You may require much less so please use your discretion on this one. 
  2. Here in SA we masala is sold in almost all spice shops, however if you don't have some you can increase the amount of Kashmiri Chilli Powder, depending on how hot you prefer it,  the Pilaf will still taste good
  3. I prefer fresh thyme and not the dried one, the dried thyme is a little overpowering 
  4. You can add some saffron if you prefer. Personally I don't like the taste of saffron in this Pilaf
  5. If you want to cook the Pilaf in the oven for longer you can undercook your lamb and let if cook in the oven on a low temperature for a few hours. You have to keep a close eye on it so it doesn't dry out
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Saturday 31st of July 2021

Hi Loraine

Thank you for your lovely recipes. I have picked up a lot of tips from you. I would like to request a Marsala Breyani recipe, where you cook your marsala and rice separately and they are served separately.

All the best and thank you for shaping


Friday 6th of August 2021

Hi Roja! Thank you so much. There is a recipe for Chicken Masala Biryani on my blog so you are welcome to try that. Chicken Masala Biryani


Friday 31st of July 2020

I made this for my family this week. I reduced the measurements, because there are only 3 of us. I should have made more. Everyone went back for seconds. It was SO tasty! Really delicious!


Saturday 1st of August 2020

Thank you so much Justine. Next time you can double the recipe. Glad you all loved it:-)

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