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Shibit Pilau

The golden saffron contrasts with the lamb, raisins and green dill beautifully in this dish.  It serves at least 6 people. The recipe is from Helen Saberi's Afghan Food and Cookery.

450g basmati rice

2 medium onions finely chopped

75ml vegetable oil

700g lamb

Salt and Pepper

2 tbs dill finely chopped

1 tsp saffron, soaked in a little warm water

100g Fairtrade raisins


1. Preheat your oven to 150C

2. Rinse the rice several times until the water runs clear, then leave to soak in fresh water for at least half an hour.

3. Fry onions in oil until soft and golden brown.

4. Add the lamb cut into serving sized pieces and trimmed of any excess fat.

5. Continue frying until golden brown.

6. Add just enough water to cover the meat with a teaspoon of salt.  Simmer gently until meat is tender.

7. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, drain rice and add to boiling water. Boil for 3 minutes, then drain into a large colander / sieve.

8. Place about half of the rice in an oven and flame proof lidded pot and top with the meat, reserving the meat juices.

9. Divide remaining rice into two.  Add first half on top of the meat.

10. Measure out about 175ml of the meat juices, add a good pinch of black pepper and the dill. Pour carefully over the rice and meat.

11. Add the saffron to the remaining rice, mix gently and place on top of one half of the rice and meat in the pot.  To the other side, place the raisins.

13. Cover with a tightly fitting lid and place over a high heat to bring the juices in the rice to the boil. Then quickly place in the oven for about half an hour.

14. To serve, gently remove the raisins from the top of the rice and reserve. Repeat this with the saffron rice. Mound the remaining rice and meat on a large warmed serving platter, then garnish with the saffron rice and raisins.