North Indian cuisine has a heavy Persian influence, in particular the tradition of combining ground meat with heady spices and onions, and studding rice dishes with fragrant aromatics, fruit, nuts and herbs. These koftas are great charred on a BBQ, and any left-over rice makes for excellent Persian-Indian burritos!
- Total time 1 hours 35 minutes
- Note + Chilling + Soaking
- Difficulty A little effort
- red onions 2
- lamb mince 750g
- cumin seeds 5 tsp, toasted and ground
- dried chilli flakes 2 tsp
- lemons 3, zested and juiced
- coriander a small bunch, chopped
- garlic 6 cloves, crushed
- ginger finely grated to make 2 tbsp
- caster sugar 1 tbsp
- black peppercorns ground to make 1½ tsp
- basmati rice 400g, rinsed
- ghee or vegetable oil 4 tbsp
- red onions 2, finely sliced into rings
- cider vinegar 1 tbsp
- cardamom pods 10, gently crushed
- cumin seeds 2½ tsp
- onions 2, finely chopped
- ginger finely grated to make 3 tsp
- garlic 5 cloves, crushed
- carrots 2, cut into thin strips
- garam masala 2½ tsp
- saffron 10 threads, mixed with 1 tbsp of warm milk
- coriander chopped to make 2 tbsp, plus extra to serve
- pomegranate seeds 100g
- pistachios 50g, toasted and crushed, plus extra to serve
- natural yogurt 300ml
- lime 1, zested and juiced
- sumac 1 tbsp
Put the red onions in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Tip in the lamb mince, cumin seeds, chilli flakes, lemon zest and juice, coriander, garlic, ginger, sugar, black pepper and 2 tsp of fine sea salt, and pulse again until everything is evenly combined. Tip the mixture into a bowl, cover and chill for 2 hours. Meanwhile, for the jewelled rice, tip the rice into a large bowl, cover with lukewarm water and leave to soak for 2 hours. Drain well.
Heat the ghee in a large frying pan and gently fry the red onion with the cider vinegar for 15-20 minutes or until the onions are caramelised and ruby coloured. Remove to a bowl and set aside, leaving as much ghee in the pan as possible.
Turn up the heat to high (if the onions have soaked up most of the ghee, you may need to add another tablespoon) and tip in the cardamom pods and cumin seeds. Sizzle for 45 seconds, then reduce the heat to medium, add the white onions and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
Add the ginger, garlic and carrots, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the garam masala and 2 tsp of fine sea salt, and cook for another minute, then add the rice. Mix for 1 minute to coat the rice in the flavoured ghee, then pour in 800ml of just-boiled water. Bring to the boil and cook for 3-4 minutes, then reduce the heat to the lowest it will go, cover and cook, undisturbed, for 15 minutes.
Remove the lid and gently fluff the rice with a fork. Add the saffron mixture, coriander, pomegranate seeds and toasted pistachios, tossing them gently through the rice mixture. Cover and set aside until ready to serve.
Heat the grill to its highest setting. Mould 3 tablespoons of the cold lamb mixture into a diamond shape around a metal skewer using your hands, then repeat with the rest of the mixture – you should be able to make 14-16 generous koftas in total. Grill for 8-10 minutes, turning halfway through, until charred at the edges.
Whisk together all of the ingredients for the yogurt sauce in a jug. Spoon the jewelled rice into a serving dish, top with the slow-cooked red onion and arrange the koftas on top. Scatter with more toasted pistachios and coriander, then drizzle with the tangy yogurt sauce.
*This recipe is gluten free according to industry standards
Check out more of our Persian recipes and Indian recipes
- kcals 765
- fat 35.1g
- saturates 15.5g
- carbs 70g
- sugars 16.8g
- fibre 8.4g
- protein 37.9g
- salt 3.7g