Lamb Pilau with Lentils, Currants and Almonds

Warm, scented rice is fall's perfect comfort food
31 Ratings
100% would make again
Lamb Pilau with Lentils, Currants and Almonds
Photo: Tasting Table

This fragrant and fluffy pilau (also known as polow, pulao and pilaf) is studded with chunks of lamb, crunchy almonds and an array of spices that meld together into one flavorful, homey dish.

To learn more, read, "All About That Basmati."

Lamb Pilau with Lentils, Currants and Almonds

Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours

Total Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes


For the Spice Mixture:

1 fresh bay leaf

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom

For the Pilau:

2 cups basmati rice

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 pounds lamb shoulder, cut into 1½-inch pieces

Salt, to taste

2 yellow onions, finely diced

2½ cups chicken stock, preferably homemade

¾ cup brown lentils

½ cup currants

⅓ cup almonds, toasted and roughly chopped

½ teaspoon ground saffron (optional)

3 tablespoons orange blossom water (optional)

4 tablespoons butter

½ cup roughly chopped cilantro

1 teaspoon orange zest


1. Make the spice mix: Combine all of the ingredients and set aside.

2. Make the pilau: Place the rice in a large bowl and cover with lukewarm water. Gently stir the rice using your hands until the water becomes cloudy; drain and repeat the process 5 to 6 times until water becomes clear. Set aside.

3. Meanwhile, heat the canola oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Season the lamb with salt and add to pot. Cook, turning occasionally, until the meat is a deep golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the lamb to a plate and set aside. Adjust the heat to medium, then add the onions and cook, stirring, until completely softened and browned, about 15 minutes. Return the lamb to the pot along with the stock. Adjust the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until meat is tender, about 1 hour.

4. Meanwhile, combine the lentils with 2 cups of water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Season with salt and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are almost tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the lentils and set aside.

5. Add the rice to the pot with the lamb along with the spice mix; season with salt and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Bring the liquid to a simmer, adjust the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until liquid has absorbed, about 30 to 35 minutes. Add the currants, almonds and lentils and continue cooking, covered, until rice is tender and the flavors have melded together, about 10 minutes.

6. While the rice is cooking, combine the saffron and orange blossom and allow the saffron to bloom for 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and place a clean kitchen towel over the pot. Cover the towel with the pot's lid and set aside for 10 minutes; the towel will absorb any excess moisture to ensure fluffy rice. Remove the lid and towel and add the saffron-orange blossom water, butter, cilantro and orange zest to the rice. Toss before serving.

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