What is distinct in this dish is the taste of the most expensive spice in the world–saffron. In Aden this is a dish we usually make for special occasions–weddings and special guest. It is usually made with lamb but I have tried it with chicken and it turns out just as good. You have to be generous with the spices for this dish to turn out aromatic.
You will need:
1) a pound of lamb cut into medium pieces
2) 4 patatoes halved
3) 2 onions–sliced
4) 2 tblsp of regular white flour [I use organic unbleached white flour]
5) 2 tblsp of olive oil
6) tblsp of either balsamic vinegar (recommended) or white vinegar
7) 1 tblsp of lemon juice
8) 3 cups of basmati rice
9) 2 tblsp of ground cumin
10) 2 tblsp of ground coriander
11) a few pods of cardamon
12) a few peppercorns
13) a couple of cinnamon sticks
14) 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
15) 1/4 tsp of black pepper
16) 1/4 of tsp of food coloring (orange)–half of which we will sprinkle on the rice.
17) about two pinches of saffron threads (one to marinate the lamb in and the other to sprinkle on top of the rice)
18) 1/2 cup of yoghurt or sour cream (whichever you prefer)
19) salt to taste
The night before you intend to make this dish, marinate the lamb and patatoes in ingredients 9-19 +lemon juice + balsamic vinegar + olive oil . Deep fry the onions after coating them with flour, and add half of it to the marinated lamb mixture for flavor. Place in an oven stoneware dish or pyrex (enough to accomodate the meat and 3 cups of half boiled rice) and refrigerate.
3 hours before your guests come, add 1 cup of water to the marinated lamb and cover (either with its lid or with foil. Place in a 350 F preheated oven for 2 hours, or until the lamb is tender. Make sure it does not dry out–if you feel it will then reduce the temperature to 300 F.
Boil some water with salt, a few peppercorns, cardamon pods, and sticks of cinnamon. Boil the rice until it is almost done. Drain the rice and leave aside.
When the lamb and patatoes are cooked through layer the rice on top. Sprinkle the rest of the saffron and food coloring. A little water–about a 1/4 of a cup evenly sprinkled. Distribute the rest of the fried onion on top of the rice and OPTIONAL : Take a piece of natural coal –about the size of a nickel or quarter. Light it up, and place in a nest made of the outer and first inner layer of an onion. Place in the middle of the pot , add a few drops of oil to the coal and cover and let the smoke permeate the dish. It will give it a nice smoky flavor. Then cook in the oven at 300 F for another hour–or until the rice is cooked through.
OPTIONAL : I like to add three dabs of butter or aromatic ghee on the face [surface] of the rice. It gives it an extra special aroma and taste.
We usually serve this dish with pickled lemons in red chillie sauce and with yoghurt on the side.