Boxing Day Biryani

Cooking time
Serves6 people

A beautiful way to transform your leftover roast turkey, duck or goose. That said, it’s equally stunning as a vegetarian main – just use nuts instead of the meat.

2 ratings
layout 1 comment


  • 1 mug of white basmati rice*
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • A few glosses of olive oil and/or a bit of butter
  • 3 mugs of water or stock
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 mugs of squash or root veg, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 2 tbsp mild curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ red chilli, thinly sliced (more or less, to taste)
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 mugs of leftover chicken, duck or goose, shredded
  • A handful of dried fruit, stoned and chopped
  • 1 orange, zest and juice
  • A large handful of nuts, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 4 bay leaves
  • Seeds from 1 pomegranate (optional)

*For a healthier option, swap with brown rice. Instead of 10 mins, cook for 20 mins.

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1. Preheat your oven to 200°C/Gas 6.
2. Get a lidded pan hot. Add your rice. Toast for a mo. Swirl in a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Pour in 2 mugs of your stock or water. Pop a lid on. Lower the heat. Simmer for 10 mins.
3. Drain the rice: you want it a little al dente. Let the rice steam in the sieve. Get another pan on the go. Add a gloss of oil or butter. Tumble the sliced onions and grated veg in with a pinch of salt. Lower heat to medium-high. Sizzle till tender and nicely golden.
4. Swirl in the curry powder and ground cinnamon. Once fragrant, stir in the chilli, thyme, shredded meat, dried fruit, the orange zest and juice and the remaining mug of stock or water. Let it bubble away for 5-10 mins, or till thickened but still a little saucy. Take off the heat. Fold in the nuts.
5. Get a clean, ovenproof frying pan out. Generously gloss the base and sides with oil or butter. Arrange the bay leaves in a pretty pattern in the base of the pan. Spread half the rice in the base and up the sides of the pan.
6. Spoon the curry over the rice. Smooth out. Spread the remaining rice over the curry. Cut a piece of foil or a doubled up sheet of greaseproof paper out to fit over the rice. Press it down to keep all the rice moist.
7. Bake for 20 mins. Gently peel the paper off the biryani. Place a large platter or cutting board over the pan. Carefully flip over to tip the rice onto the platter/board. If it sticks, simply scrape the rice from the pan and smooth over the top. Artfully arrange the bay leaves on top, if they’ve moved.
8. Finish with pomegranate seeds and more nuts, if you like. Delicious served with a pot of natural yogurt spiced with a swirl of cumin powder.
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The best way I've come across ever of using up eft-over roast (mine was lamb). Terrifically tasty.