Iraqi Lamb Meatball Biryani

May and Maha come from an Indian and Iraqi background – and this recipe is a fusion of the two cultures, just like them! It’s a biryani, but with a persian/pilaf style twist.

People of Indian heritage have long been living in the middle east, and brought many dishes with them, including the biryani which is closely related to a pilaf. It’s based on rice, and you absolutely must use Sunrice basmati in this recipe – for its incredible fragrance and long slender grains that never stick together. Basmati is perfect for Indian as well as middle eastern cooking, and works brilliantly as a side, in biryanis and pilafs, and for stuffing vegetables.

With their background, it’s no surprise that May and Maha are rice lovers, it’s what their mum cooked every single day and really brings up a sense of comfort and nostalgia for real home made food. The trouble is, their mums recipes just take too long! Because of this May and Maha have avoided cooking recipes from their heritage in the past – but we are here to show them that with a few shortcuts and tricks, they can get the taste of their childhood in their own home.

The first trick is to use one pot – by cooking everything together there is hardly any washing up. Secondly, we are officially giving all our readers permission to use store bought sausages instead of making their own meatballs. And thirdly, even though tgheir mum always taught them to wash their rice, it’s not even necessary with Sunrice Basmati rice – it’s very fluffy and won’t stick together.

And don’t forget that it’s important to keep a plethora of spices in your cupboard so you can make middle eastern and indian dishes any time – we picked up a bunch from Hoyts at the supermarket.

Watch us teach May and Maha this recipe on Episode 6 of Kitchen Rescue on TenPlay

Iraqi Lamb Meatball Biryani


Cooked in45 minutes



Biryani Ground Spice mix (makes extra)
• 1 Tbsp Hoyts ground cumin
• 1 Tbsp Hoyts ground cinnamon
• 1 tsp Hoyts ground coriander seed
• 1.5 tsp Hoyts ground clove
• 1 tsp Hoyts turmeric
• 1 tsp Hoyts ground ginger
• ½ tsp Hoyts chilli powder

• 500g lamb sausages
• 2 Tbsp olive oil
• 1/4 cup Lurpak Unsalted Butter
• 2 carrots (250g)
• 1 large potato (200g)
• 1 onion
• 2 cloves garlic
• 3 tsp Biryani ground spice mix, from above
• 1.5 cups Sunrice Basmati Rice
• ⅓ cup raisins
• 2.5 cups Chicken stock
• ⅓ cup natural unsweetened yoghurt
• 2 tsp rose water
• 1 pinch Hoyts saffron (1 packet)
• 2 Hoyts cardamon pods
• 1 Hoyts star anise, whole
• 2 Hoyts bay leaves

To garnish:
• ½ cup whole raw almonds
• ¼ bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped


1. Place almonds in Philips Pro Mix with Opti Chop attachment. Blend until chopped. Take a wide and deep fry pan/sauce pan and place on medium heat. Toast chopped almonds, then set aside.
2. To make the meatballs (aka kofta), simply cut the end of each sausage casing, and squeeze teaspoon sized nuggets out using your hands. Place olive oil in the pan on medium-high and fry the meatballs until browned, then set aside.
3. For the ground spice mix, simply mix all spices together. Keep extra in an airtight jar.
4. Dice the potato and carrot into 1cm cubes and chop the onion and garlic. Leave any remaining oil in the pan, add butter and chopped veggies, reduce heat to medium and cook for 3 minutes, then add 3 tsp Biryani ground spice mix and Sunrice Basmati Rice and cook for another 2 minutes, until the spices are fragrant and the rice is well coated in oil.
5. To the pot add raisins, chicken stock, yoghurt, rose water, and whole spices. Bring to a simmer, then add lamb meatballs back in. Place lid on top, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Turn heat off and let sit, lid on, for another 10 minutes before serving.
6. Serve in cooking pot, top with roasted nuts and parsley

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