Parda Saffron Lamb Breyani

Serves 10 – 12 people 

Yudhika‘s tips:

  • Always use cold rice when making breyani as this prevents the rice from getting sticky.
  • The rice should be par boiled and seasoned in this recipe.
  • The potatoes can be par-cooked by boiling.
  • Chicken pieces can be used instead of lamb in this recipe.
  • I prefer using fresh cream but low fat yoghurt can be used instead.
  • Adjust the red chilli powder if you would like to make this dish milder or hotter


  • 2,5kg lamb knuckles
  • 8 medium sized Up to Date potatoes
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • Sunflower oil, for frying
  • 100ml sunflower oil
  • 2 large cinnamon stick
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 10ml cumin seeds
  • 2 large onion, finely chopped
  • 15ml coarse salt
  • 30ml crushed garlic
  • 30ml crushed ginger
  • 45ml red chilli powder
  • 20ml ground coriander
  • 10ml ground cumin
  • 15ml garam masala
  • 5ml turmeric
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 250ml fresh cream
  • 3 x 400g tinned lentils, drained
  • 2500ml par cooked basmati rice
  • 125ml extra virgin olive oil
  • Strands of saffron
  • 500ml boiling water
  • Few drops of egg yellow food colouring
  • Fresh coriander and curry leaves, to garnish 
  • For the ‘Parda’ dough:
    • 400g cake flour
    • 100g butter
    • 5ml sugar
    • 150ml cold water
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Here’s how:

  1. Peel the potatoes and slice them into thick rounds.
  2. Heat the sunflower oil in a pan and fry the potatoes until tender.
  3. Remove from the oil and leave to drain.  
  4. Gently dab the excess oil with absorbent paper towel.
  5. Fry the onion slices until light golden brown.
  6. Remove the onion from the oil and leave in a colander to drain.
  7. Spread the onion slices over absorbent paper towel.
  8. Heat 100ml sunflower oil in a large 30cm frying pan (with oven proof handles)
  9. Fry the cinnamon stick and bay leaves until fragrant.
  10. Add the cardamom pods and cumin seeds.
  11. When the cumin seeds start to sizzle, add the onion and salt.
  12. Saute until the onion is light golden brown.
  13. Add crushed garlic and ginger.
  14. Stir for a few seconds and then add the red chilli powder.
  15. Stir well and add the lamb knuckles.
  16. Mix the knuckles in the chilli paste and continue stirring until the meat begins to stick.
  17. Lower the heat and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. 
  18. Add the ground coriander, cumin, garam masala and turmeric.  
  19. When the spices on the bottom of the pot start to brown, add the tomatoes and pour in boiling water to cover the knuckles.
  20. Simmer the knuckles on a low heat, adding more water if necessary.
  21. When the knuckles are 90 % cooked and the sauce has reduced, layer the fried potatoes over the lamb.  
  22. Pour the fresh cream over and then layer half the lentils over the potatoes.
  23. Layer the cooked basmati rice over the lentils and scatter the remaining lentils on top.
  24. Drizzle olive oil over the rice.
  25. Heat the saffron strands in the microwave for 30 seconds.
  26. Leave to cool lightly and then lightly crush the strands with your fingertips.
  27. Pour the boiling water over the crushed saffron strands and leave to infuse.
  28. Pour the saffron infusion over the pot and pour a few drops of egg yellow food colouring over the rice.
  29. Sprinkle the fried onion slices over the rice and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil to prevent the rice from becoming sticky.
  30. Make the parda dough by rubbing the butter into cake flour.  Add the sugar and pour in the water.
  31. Use the dough hook mixer attachment to work it into soft dough.
  32. Roll the dough into a large round.
  33. Make a thick paste with flour and cold water.  This should resemble thick glue.
  34. Spoon the paste over the edges of the round and use the back of a teaspoon to spread it evenly.
  35. Drape the round over the pot, then press and pleat the dough to stick it down firmly under the lip of the gourmet unit.
  36. Brush the dough with beaten egg.
  37. Place the breyani in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 45 – 60 minutes or until the pastry cover is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.
  38. Use a sharp knife to cut through the crispy dough to let out the steam.
  39. Gently toss the breyani and garnish with fresh coriander.