This lamb, apricot and mint pilaf is the result of at least four different attempts to make a great lamb pilaf. The flavours will transport you to the Middle East but it’s still an easy one pot meal that’s ready in 30 minutes and which the whole family will enjoy.
Building this lamb, apricot and mint pilaf recipe started after Easter a year ago when we had some delicious left-over lamb. Mum and Dave’s Mum had served a cracking roast lamb joint for Easter Sunday, which was two days after I had returned home from hospital with our new daughter. The next day my creative powers seemed limited so I googled for ideas for the remaining lamb. A pilaf recipe came up. This was just what I was after. Pilaf to me is an easy meal, somewhere between a risotto and paella but needing less attention than either. This pilaf had lamb and mint and I imagined it would transport us to the Middle East as we ate it. But it seemed my cooking skills had also been zapped and that night’s supper was pretty tasteless. I took a mouthful and instantly asked Dave if he would get the yoghurt and chutneys out of the fridge. They helped but didn’t do enough. My main problem was too much rice and not enough interesting bits – finding something tasty became a treasure hunt.
Fast forward to the version detailed below. The onion, garlic, ginger, chilli powder, mustard seeds and cardamon pods provide good background flavour. This is not a spicy dish but one with a real depth of flavour for the meat and the rice.
The recipe identifies using uncooked minced lamb. If you do have 500g of cooked lamb, then add it to the pilaf once the rice is cooked so that it serves hot but doesn’t overcook.
This pilaf uses basmati but long grain rice will also work well. The raisins and apricots are added with the rice so they cook in the stock and take on some of the flavour of the dish but are also plump and juicy. The pistachios and mint give both colour and flavour. Mint will turn black if cooked, so only add it once you have finished cooking. Or serve it separately on the table. Also, you can swap the pistachios for toasted flaked almonds. If you are feeding little people you might want to serve naan bread; I find naan bread and yoghurt help them to enjoy this pilaf. Sit down, relax, enjoy and allow yourself to be transported to the Middle East as you eat this lamb apricot and mint pilaf!
A note on cooking the rice. The exact time it takes will depend on the size of your hob, or gas ring. I list 14-minutes as a starting point. Test the rice by spooning out some grains and checking whether they are soft in your mouth. When doing this, replace the lid as quickly as possible so you keep all the steam in the pot to continue to cook the rice. Similarly, try not to lift the lid to see if the stock is boiling when you first start cooking the rice. Instead, listen to hear the stock boiling and watch for puffs of steam escaping from the saucepan lid.
Lamb, apricot and mint pilaf
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 4
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 tsp mustard seeds
- 6 cardamom pods, crushed
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 large onion, finely sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 35g or a thumb sized piece of ginger
- ¼ tsp chilli powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 500g lamb mince
- 170g basmati rice
- 340ml vegetable stock
- 130g or 20 dried apricots, halved
- 130g raisins
- 100g pistachios
- 60g fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
Yoghurt to serve
- In a large saucepan which has a lid, heat the oil over a medium heat. Once it’s hot add the mustard seeds, cardamom pods, cumin seeds and stir. Place the lid on and continue cooking until the mustard seeds start popping. When they have finished popping add the onion, ginger, garlic, chilli powder, salt. Stir and replace the lid for 8 minutes until the onion is cooked.
- Add the uncooked lamb and stir in. Once the lamb is brown and cooked add the rice, apricots and raisins and stir again to coat the rice in the pan juices.
- Add the stock and stir. Replace the lid and bring to the boil. Once you see steam escaping, move the pan to your smallest ring, set on lowest heat and cook for a further 14 minutes or until the rice is cooked (see notes). Once the rice is cooked, turn the heat off. If you leave it for a few more minutes, some of the rice will stand up on end which is fun to see!
- Stir in the pistachios and mint and serve.
Introducing the Carbs and Calorie Calculator
Carbohydrate content of ingredients
Here is the carb info for each ingredient in case you want to substitute anything out or in.
2 tbsp oil – 0g
2 tsp mustard seeds – 0g
6 cardamom pods, crushed – 0g
2 tsp cumin seeds – 0g
1 large onion, finely sliced – 15g
3 garlic cloves, crushed – 3g
35g or a thumb sized piece of ginger – 5g
¼ tsp chilli powder – 0g
¼ tsp salt – 0g
500g lamb mince – 0g
170g basmati rice – 142g
340ml vegetable stock – 0g
130g or 20 dried apricots, halved – 72g
130g raisins – 90g
100g pistachios – 18g
60g fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped – 3g