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Cook: 120 minutes | Servings: 10 portions


Akhni is a fragrant and highly flavoursome rice dish. Most people will describe it as a combination of curry and rice. I tend to disagree. Akhni has such a distinctive and complex flavour that it does the dish injustice to describe it as such. The best Akhni I’ve ever eaten was cooked over an open flame. Wow!! The smoky and spicy flavour was absolutely delicious!

  • 500 g basmati rice
  • 3 L (12 cups) boiling water
  • 10 ml (2 teaspoons) salt
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) turmeric
  • 125 ml (½ cup) cooking oil
  • 10 medium potatoes, halved
  • 3 large onions, finely diced
  • 6 cinnamon sticks
  • 10 whole cardamom pods, bruised
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) garlic, minced
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) ginger, minced
  • 45 ml (3 tablespoons) akhni masala
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) red leaf masala
  • 1 kg lamb pieces
  • 2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 50g butter, cubed

Using a medium pot over high heat, parboil the basmati rice in 6 cups of boiling water, with half the salt and the turmeric.
Cook for 7 minutes, then strain in a colander and set aside.
Add 80 ml (⅓ cup) of the cooking oil to a non-stick frying pan over high heat.
Fry the potatoes for 10 minutes until golden brown and set aside.
Heat the remaining cooking oil in a large pot over high heat.
Add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes until translucent and golden brown.
Then add the whole spices and sauté for another 5 minutes.
Add the rest of the spices with the garlic and ginger, and fry for 2 minutes.
Now add the meat and tomatoes and cook for 30 minutes.
Add 500 ml (2 cups) of the boiling water in stages, when needed, and stirring occasionally.
Add the fried potatoes with the remaining salt, and 250 ml (1 cup) of the boiling water when needed, again stirring occasionally.
Cook for 20 minutes, then cover the meat and potatoes with the remaining 750 ml (3 cups) of boiling water.
Layer the rice over the meat and potatoes and dot with the butter.
Steam on low to medium heat until all the water has evaporated, and the rice and potatoes are cooked, about 20 – 30 minutes.
Serve warm.
Garnish with freshly chopped coriander.
Serve with dahi (yoghurt-based condiment) and a pineapple sambal; or any other sambal, achar or pickle of choice.

Recipe posted by Mauricia Jordaan
Photo: Mauricia Jordaan


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