Saffron Lamb Pulao

Saffron Lamb Pulao

Contact info

Some people are accustomed to having Roast Lamb on Sundays. In our home, Lamb Pulao is the Sunday roast! Over the weekend, I try not to spend too much time in the kitchen and prepare just one decadent dish. Aromatic spices, fragrant basmati rice and brown onions slow cooked with lamb, emit knee weakening aromas.

Serves 6

1 kg leg of lamb or shoulder chops
3 Up To Date Potatoes, peeled
Sunflower oil for frying
1 onion, thinly sliced
10 saffron strands
¾ cup boiling water
4 tablespoons sunflower oil
2 cinnamon sticks
4 cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
2 large onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1 tablespoon garlic paste
4 teaspoons red chilli powder
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon turmeric
4 tablespoons fresh cream
1 cup frozen peas
5 cups cooked Spekko Basmati Rice
Fresh coriander
Fresh mint

Here’s how:

  1. Slice the potatoes into 1cm thick rounds. Fry the sliced potatoes until golden brown.
  2. Remove from heat and drain in a colander. Dab off excess oil with absorbent paper towel.
  3. Fry thinly sliced onion in oil until the slices are a deep golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper.
  4. Heat the saffron strands in a frying pan. When the saffron strands are cool, crush them using your fingertips. Pour boiling water over the crushed saffron. Let the mixture infuse for fifteen minutes. This process releases the aroma and colour of the saffron strands.
  5. Heat 4 tablespoons sunflower oil in a pot on a medium heat and fry cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods and bay leaves until fragrant. Add chopped onion to the oil and sauté until golden brown.
  6. Mix in ginger and garlic paste and stir for a few seconds. Add red chilli powder and stir for 2 to 3 seconds only.
  7. The mixture in the pot should resemble a thick paste.
  8. Add the lamb cubes and coat the pieces in the fried onion paste. Stir in the salt, ground cumin, coriander, garam masala and turmeric and continue stirring the lamb, ensuring the meat does not stick and burn.
  9. Pour in 2 cups boiling water when the meat begins to stick. Simmer for about 45 minutes until the meat is tender.
  10. Add more boiling water if necessary.
  11. Stir in fresh cream. Remove from heat and layer the peas over the lamb. Then add fried potatoes followed by the rice.
  12. Pour the saffron infusion over the rice.
  13. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid. Steam the lamb pulao on a very low heat until the saffron infusion evaporates, again taking care to check the lamb does not stick and burn. Adjust the seasoning and garnish with fresh mint, coriander and fried onion slices.


  • Cook rice in advance and allow to cool before layering over the lamb, it keeps the rice grains separate and stops the pulao from becoming sticky.
  • Serve this dish with Raita and Sambals. For a fuss-free dinner, cook the lamb in advance and refrigerate once cool. Add the peas, rice, potatoes and saffron infusion and simmer for twenty minutes on a very low heat. Add more water if necessary.

About this week’s chef
Yudhika Sujanani, a brand ambassador for Spekko Rice, is this week’s celebrity cook. Describing herself as a South African Indian chef, she just published her 2nd recipe book – Curry me home again. Read more


Once again Spekko is giving Joburg readers the opportunity to win a fabulous Carol Boyes rice bowl and spoon. All you need to do is email Shaun and answer the following question:
What colour is the Spekko Basmati Rice pack?

Entries close on Tuesday, 24th August 2010. One entry per person. Please note, the prizes may differ from the visuals published.

Congratulations to Susan Marais, winner in the previous giveaway.

Did you like this article? Then get more of the same from our weekly newsletter delivered to your inbox for FREE!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More from Uncategorized: