Fast Recipes

Uyghur lamb pilaf

An express version of this flavourful rice dish from north-west China.

By Tony Tan
  • Serves 4
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Uyghur lamb pilaf
The Muslim Uyghurs of Xinjiang province in China combine Chinese and Middle-Eastern influences. This is a sped-up version of making a pilaf, though they are very simple to make. If you have more time, cook the onion mixture first and add it to the rice at the beginning, then cook the dish at a simmer to allow the flavours to meld.


  • 600 gm lamb rump, diced
  • 3 tsp ground cumin seeds
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) vegetable oil
  • 320 gm (2 cups) jasmine rice, rinsed and drained
  • 1 litre (4 cups) chicken stock
  • 3 carrots, cut into 3-4cm chunks
  • 4-5 dried red chillies (or to taste), torn
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 30 gm ginger, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 80 gm (½ cup) sultanas soaking in boiling water for 10 minutes, drained
  • Coarsely chopped coriander, to serve
  • Lemon wedges, and cucumber mixed with yoghurt (optional), to serve


  • 1
    Place lamb in a bowl, season with salt to taste, add 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper and 1 tsp cumin, and toss to coat. Heat a casserole or a wok over high heat. Add 1 tbsp oil and fry lamb in two batches until browned (3-4 minutes).
  • 2
    Return all lamb to casserole and add rice, stock, carrots and chilli. Cover with a lid, bring to the boil, reduce heat to medium-high and simmer rapidly until rice has absorbed liquid (8-10 minutes).
  • 3
    Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a frying pan over mediumhigh heat. Add onion and stir-fry until light golden (4-5 minutes), then add ginger, garlic and remaining cumin and stir-fry until fragrant (1 minute).
  • 4
    Stir onion mixture through rice mixture, reduce heat to low and cook, covered, until rice and lamb are both tender and excess liquid has been absorbed (2-3 minutes).
  • 5
    Top pilaf with sultanas and coriander, and serve with cucumber salad and lemon