Long grain rice 6 cups
Eggplants * 1200 g
Ground saffron ¾ teaspoon
Boneless leg of lamb 1.5 kg
Plain yogurt 3 cups
Oil 160 g
Zereshk (Dried barberries) ** 100 g
Egg yolks 3
Slivered almonds 200 g
Salt 8 tablespoons
Sugar 2 tablespoons
Black pepper ½ teaspoon
* Continental/Lebanese eggplants are preferable, as they require less oil for frying.
** Zereshk (barberries)can be found in Persian or Lebanese shops, alternatively you may use red currants.
Clean and wash the rice with lukewarm water and soak for at least 2 hours.
Peel the eggplants and cut into discs and salt them.
Dissolve the saffron in 3 tablespoons of hot water and put aside.
Clean the meat, remove any excess fat and cut into pieces (about 5x5x2 cm).
Marinate in 2 cups of yogurt, 2 teaspoons of salt, black pepper and 3/4 of the dissolved saffron overnight.
Dry the eggplants with paper towel.
Heat ¼ cup of oil in a large non-stick frying pan and when hot, fry the eggplant pieces on both sides.
Clean the barberries and soak for 2 minutes in water for any sand or dirt to sink to the bottom.
Carefully scoop the barberries out without stirring up the sediment.
Wash a few times and leave to drain.
Stir-fry the barberries very lightly for about 1 minute in 2 tablespoons of oil.
Take off the stove and immediately sprinkle with sugar, stir and put aside. There is no need for sugar if you are using blackcurrants.
Mix the remaining yogurt and dissolved saffron with the egg yolks and put aside.
Pre-heat the oven to 180C or 350F.
Boil 12 cups of water in a large pot.
Drain the soaked rice in a strainer.
Add 3 tablespoons of salt and the rice to the boiling water and gently stir once or twice.
Leave uncovered and boil for 5 minutes.
Drain the rice in the strainer.
Wash out the excess starch with a cup of warm water while in the strainer.
Pour 3 tablespoons of oil over the base of the oven-safe pot and swirl to coat the sides.
Keep 2 tablespoons of the yogurt and egg mixture aside.
To the remaining mixture add one cup of the rice and spread it evenly over the bottom of the pot ensuring it is fully covered.
Pour half of the rice into the pot, level it and spread the meat over the top in one layer.
Spread the eggplant pieces on top of the meat and sprinkle with 2/3 of the barberries and slivered almonds.
Pour the rest of the rice and level it out.
Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of oil to 1 cup of water and spread over the top of the rice.
Add the remaining yogurt mixture to the left over mixture from the marinated meat and the remaining dissolved saffron.
Pour this mixture around the inside edge of the pot.
This makes a crispy layer of rice around the edge and the bottom of the pot helping it to come out as a cake when cooked.
Press a bit with the back of a spoon so that the ingredients stick together.
Poke a few holes in the rice to allow the steam to rise from the bottom and place the lid on.
Put the pot into the oven and bake for an hour on 180C and for an extra hour on 130C.
Take out of the oven and leave for a few minutes.
Place a round serving tray or a large plate on top of the pot.
While firmly holding the tray against the pot, gently flip upside down so that the contents of the pot neatly fall out onto the tray.
Garnish with fried eggplant circles and barberries and serve hot.