Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lamb Heart/Tongue Biryani


I absolutely love South Asian food.  The bold and diverse flavors of Desi cuisine make it arguably my favorite cuisine.  My love for South Asian food probably stems from the chicken curry my mom used to always make in my youth.  It's one of my favorite things to eat in her repertoire and although it's more of a Vietnamese/Malaysian hybrid curry, those heavily spiced bowls of goodness did well to prime my taste buds for South Asian flavors.


One of my favorite things to eat of all time is biryani.  I'd eaten a few times growing up, but it wasn't until college that I really got addicted to biryani: specifically the lamb biryani from Blue Nile.  Their balance of the spices, texture of the rice, and tenderness of the lamb was spot on and pretty much set the standard for which I judge all biryanis against.

Also, because Blue Nile was a Middle Eastern place, each order of biryani came with a side of tahini sauce which gave the dish an extra dimension of flavor with its slight acidity and helped cut some of the meat’s fat.  Slathering biryani in tahini sauce has become my preferred method of eating biryani over the years, and I honestly could drink an entire pitcher of tahini sauce because it’s so good.


After a few years of cultivating my taste for biryani, the time finally came for me to try making some myself.  Lamb tends to be my preferred meat of choice for biryani, so I decided to go with a combination of lamb heart and lamb tongue for the protein.  The heart and tongue both had a nice level of lambiness/gaminess, which is why I like lamb so much.


Recipes for biryani can be highly variable due to regional differences, but they’re plentiful and can be easily found online.  I opted to adapt a recipe that called for heating whole spices and ginger in ghee to awaken them.  I then combined the spices with the meat that was slowly braised overnight in homemade beef stock and biryani spices.



The braising liquid was then used to par-boil the rice, and the meat and spices were folded into the rice.  After a good sprinkling of freshly ground saffron to the top of the rice, the biryani was left to bake in the oven.



As I said before, I love to eat biryani with tahini sauce and made some myself by combining tahini, olive oil, salt, and lemon juice.  I opted not to use garlic in my tahini sauce as I didn’t want it to compete with the numerous spices already in the biryani.  The acidity from the tahini was pretty much a required condiment in order to cut the natural fattiness of the tongue.  Overall, I found my first stab at biryani to be quite a success.  The next time I make biryani, I’ll probably opt for some type of game bird as the main protein.

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