Lamb with Sour Cherry Rice (6-8)

A traditional recipe from “Persia in Peckham” by Sally Butcher.

Lamb with Sour Cherry Rice (6-8)
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Lamb with Sour Cherry Rice (6-8)
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  1. Cut the lamb into small pieces (2cm ‘cubes’). Place in a pan with lamb bones, onion and turmeric, cover with water and bring to the boil. Set to simmer – you need to cook it for about an hour and a quarter. At the end of cooking, season to taste.
  2. While the meat is cooking, wash and soak the rice. After about an hour, drain it and plunge it into boiling water for 6–7 minutes, before draining again.
  3. If you are using fresh sour cherries, cook them gently in a pan with a splash of water and the sugar; 10–15 minutes should see them softened.
  4. Melt a knob of butter or ghee in your rice pan, and as soon as it is spitting hot, sprinkle a generous layer of the parboiled rice over the bottom. Follow with a layer of meat (scoop it from its stock with a slotted spoon so that you do not add too much liquid), more rice, and then a layer of the cherries.
  5. Continue until all of the ingredients have been used, all the while being careful not to press the rice down too hard. Poke 5–6 holes down through the rice, and then cover the lid of the saucepan with a tea-towel and set the pan to steam over the gentlest of heats.
  6. Leave to cook for around an hour. At the end of this period, plunge the bottom of the pan into a little cold water in the sink: after 5 minutes, you should be able to invert a tray over the pan and turn the rice out on to it.
  7. Crack the top of the rice with a spoon and trickle a little saffron on to the cracked bit; in fact, take a spoon of the rice and rub it around the saffron saucer before mixing it back with the rest of the rice – this helps to make sure that you use all of the saffron.
  8. The dish will be very moist anyway – but is good served with the rest of the lamb stock, which you can dish up separately in a bowl. Serve with yoghurt and fresh herbs.
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