Susie Jacobs - Shetland Food Fair 2015

by Elizabeth Atia -

Susie Jacobs was one of the demonstrators at the Shetland Food Fair this year. She made two dishes - first, this Shah Jahani Pullao dish, an Indian spiced lamb and rice casserole taught to her by her Indian friend's mother, Kiki, to whom it was given by the Maharaja of Pattiala who was a family friend.

Secondly, she made a delicious braised short ribs recipe with polenta. You can read more about Susie's cooking history on that recipe post.

Susie says this recipe is a bit complicated, but well worth it. The broth the rice is cooked in can be made a day ahead. For that matter, so can the lamb. Then the rice can be cooked and the casserole assembled for its' final bake an hour before serving. Unlike many Indian meals which have multiple dishes, this is a very festive, exquisite dish & so good that it just needs a salad to go along with it.

First things, first, take a leg of Shetland lamb – about 1 ½ kilos in weight, bone it and cut the meat into 1 ½ inch cubes. Put the meat aside or refrigerate if you don't intend to cook immediately and start with the broth.

Susie's Cooking Tips:

  • Kewra water is obtained from a cactus growing in South India. If you can't get this, use rose water instead.
  • Caramelize the onions until they're just as brown as they can be without being burned.
  • Ronnie Eunson's Shetland lamb is the best lamb in the world.
  • use a combination of butter and coconut oil if you don't want to go through the bother of clarifying butter into ghee
  • when preparing the rice, when it's just about done, take the lid off the pan, cover the rice with a tea towel and replace the lid. Leave it for five minutes - this will fluff it up nicely.
  • Layer the casserole ingredients at room temperature.

Shah Jahani Pullao

Course: Main

Servings: 6 people

Prep Time: 60 minutes

Cook Time: 6 hours

  • lamb leg bone - 1
  • fresh ginger - 1 inch (coarsely chopped)
  • garlic - 5 cloves
  • green cardamom pods - 5
  • cinnamon stick - 2 inch
  • whole cloves - 6
  • black peppercorns - 12
  • bay leaf -
  • water - 5-7 cups
  • Maldon sea salt - tsp
  • onions - 2 (halved and thinly sliced)
  • fresh ginger - 1 inch (finely minced)
  • garlic - 5 cloves
  • vegetable oil - 3 tbsp (or coconut oil)
  • coriander seed - 1.5 tbsp (freshly ground)
  • cumin seed - 1 tbsp (freshly ground)
  • cayenne pepper - 1/4 tsp
  • ground turmeric - 1/4 tsp
  • Maldon sea salt - 1 tsp
  • Basmati rice - 2 cups
  • lamb broth - 2 cups
  • water - 1.5 cups
  • Maldon sea salt - 3/4 tsp
  • ghee - 1 tbsp
  • fresh ginger - 1 inch
  • green serrano chiles - 2 small
  • green cardamom pods - 5
  • black cardamom pods - 5
  • plain yogurt - 1 cup
  • cream - 1 cup (lightly whipped)
  • kewra water - 1 tbsp (or rose water)
  1. To prepare the stock, put all the ingredients into a large stock pot. Bring to the boil; turn down the heat and simmer for 3-4 hours. Let cool. Discard the solids & refrigerate.
  2. To prepare the lamb, heat the oil over high heat in a large saucepan or pot & add the onions. Saute for 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently so they caramelize evenly. You may want to add a splash of water now and then to even out the color and keep from burning. Add the ginger and garlic and continue to saute for a minute or so. Add the lamb and brown for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the coriander, cumin, cayenne, turmeric, salt and ½ cup water. Mix well & reduce heat. Cover and simmer for about 1 and 1/2 hours. Check from time to time and add water if necessary. When the meat is for tender, set aside. If preparing a day ahead, cool and then refrigerate. The next day bring to room temperature before proceeding.
  4. To prepare the rice, split the green chiles in half & remove the seeds if you don't like things too hot. Slice the chiles into thin half moons; julienne the ginger & set these aside. Open the green and black cardamom pods and remove the seeds; discard the husks and put seeds aside.
  5. Remove stock from the fridge and skim off the fat. Heat the butter in a large skillet fitted with a good lid. Tilt the melted butter to the side to form a pool & add the green and black cardamom seeds. Level the pan and add the rice. Saute for a minute or two and add the stock, water and salt. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 8 minutes. Remove from heat & let stand, covered for 5 minutes. Toss in the green chiles and ginger – fluffing with a fork as you go. Spread the rice on a large baking sheet to cool.
  6. To assemble the dish, preheat the oven to 180C. Use an 8-10 inch casserole with a well fitting cover. Butter the casserole as you would for a cake. Layer ¼ of the rice on the bottom. Spread the lamb over the rice & cover with another ¼ of the rice. Whisk the yogurt lightly & spread over the rice. Layer another ¼ of the rice; spread with the whipped cream & cover with the remaining rice. Sprinkle with the kewra or rose water and cover. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  7. You can serve this straight from the pan, or turn it out onto a heat proof platter and decorate with edible silver leaf to make a show of it.
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