Clay Pot Cooking! The Start of a New Addiction?
One of my favourite restaurants is Clays Hyderabadi Kitchen in Reading. It is an independent restaurant serving Indian food, but not the traditional food you would expect to find in an Indian restaurant in the UK. They have a really varied and different menu, much of which I have never tried, so am always eager to visit and try new dishes. On one of my recent visits, I went for their Lamb Hyderabadi Style Clay Pot Biryani.
The Biryani comes served in a clay pot (no surprise there) which has been covered over with pastry before the lid being placed on before cooking. To serve they slice the cooked pastry lid open, exposing the lovely fragrant aroma of the spices. It was absolutely stunning!
As part of the dish they offer you the chance to take the clay pot home, and of course, I had to knowing that I would try something on the BBQ. Clays were also kind enough to give me some cooking tips for how they cooked the Biryani, so I had some base knowledge for when I cooked in it. One of the tips they gave was to use meat with the bone-in as that helps with the amount of moisture cooking within the clay pot.
Preparation and the Cook
For this cook, I marinated the Lamb overnight to try to get the flavours infused into the meat.
I set up the Weber GBS with an indirect and direct zone. In addition to the great advice from Clays, I also did a bit of reading about clay pot cooking. One of the warnings I read was about being careful about bringing the clay pot up to heat gradually, rather than just exposing it to the hot BBQ immediately. Exposing the clay pot to too much heat immediately can crack it.
I heated the clay pot in the oven at around 100°C for 15 minutes and then took it out and started to prepare the dish. Whilst the clay pot was warming up I grilled the lamb for a minute on each side just to give it a little char.
Once all the components were added I placed the pastry over the top and added the lid before placing it on the BBQ and cooking the dish.
This was something very new for me, and also very exciting. I had no idea how it would turn out, but I love cooking that way. I knew it was not going to be perfect but loved using a new method that also involved the BBQ to cook a new dish.
Overall, I was really pleased with this first attempt. The lamb was so tasty and tender, the rice was cooked with a great flavour and personally, I thought the dish worked. I will definitely be cooking this again.
Clay Pot Middle Eastern Lamb
- 2 Lamb Loin Chops
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil (extra virgin)
- 1 tsp Cumin
- ½ tsp Cinnamon
- ½ Cinnamon Stick
- ½ tsp Cumin Seeds
- 1 tsp Sumac
- 1 Juice of a Lemon
- 1 Rind of a Lemon
- 1 tsp Pomegranate Seeds
- 100 g Bomba Paella Rice
- Dough (to cover the pot)
- Mix the Olive Oil, Cumin, Cinnamon, Lemon Juice, Sumac and Pomegranate Molasses together in a bowl. Add the Lamb Loin Chops and make sure they are generously covered. Place in the fridge for at least 8 hours but ideally overnight. An hour before you want to start cooking take the Lamb and marinade out of the fridge.
- Light your BBQ and set it up with a direct and indirect zone. Part boil the rice for around 1/3 to 1/2 of its recommended cooking time, then drain.
- Place the clay pot in the oven and heat for 15 minutes with the lid on at 100°C. Remove (with oven gloves or heat-resistant gloves) and remove the lid.
- Towards the end of the 15 minutes, quickly grill your lamb on the BBQ for 1 minute on each side.
- Place the lamb in the bottom of the clay pot. Then spoon the rice into the bowl and cover the lamb. Sprinkle the Lemon Rind over the rice, place the Cinnamon Stick on the rice and sprinkle over the Cumin Seeds. Finally, cover the pot with the dough and place the lid on top of the clay pot.
- Place the pot in the indirect area of the BBQ and cook for 45 minutes. Take it off the BBQ and remove the lid. With a knife cut open the pastry. Be careful as it will be hot. This bit is amazing as you will release all the fragrant spices.
- Remove the Cinnamon Stick before mixing all the rice with the meat and juices. Then lift the meat out together with spooning the rice onto the plate. Enjoy!!!