Lamb pilaf with green almonds

lamb pilaf with green almonds

What’s green, furry and grows on trees?

I know that this sounds like the beginning to a terrible joke, but I do have a serious answer for you: almonds.

I’m going to be completely honest and tell you – I had no idea that immature almonds came in a fuzzy green pod. It’s not something that had ever crossed my mind. So when I saw some, I had to buy them.

Green almonds appear very briefly in early spring, and consist of a fuzzy outer shell and a soft white seed surrounded by a jelly-ish inner. After they are harvested, they eventually shrivel and harden and lose their furry coats.

Green almonds

When green almonds are very, very young, you can eat them whole – green pod and all. I tried one and ummmmmmm. I wasn’t keen to repeat the experience: it was very, very sour and not very nice. So then I tried eating just the inner seed. It was very tangy and “fresh” tasting. The closest comparison I have is a cross between a tart grape and very fresh cucumber – that sour, watery, green flavour.

Lamb pilaf

Rather than hulling them and eating them plain, I really wanted to showcase them in a dish. It took me ages to think of something, but eventually I settled on a lamb pilaf, with the hulled green almonds stirred through at the end.

Lamb pilaf

I was really happy with my dish. The green almonds gave the pilaf, which I had added a lot of spices to, a crunchy freshness. Of course, if you don’t have any green almonds the pilaf is still good – you could substitute with toasted silvered almonds. It won’t be quite the same but it’d still be the yum.

Lamb pilaf with green almonds

Rating: 41

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: Serves 4

Lamb pilaf with green almonds


  • 400g diced lamb
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1/2 small bunch coriander, washed and finely chopped, reserving some leaves for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Zest and juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 cup water
  • For the rice
  • 1 cup uncooked basmati rice
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • Water for the rice - the amount will depend on how much liquid you have after the lamb has cooked
  • 150g green almonds, hulled


    For the lamb
  1. (I did all this in my electronic pressure cooker - if you don't have one, you can do it in a heavy pot on the stove, just remember that you will need to add more liquid and the lamb will take longer to become tender.)
  2. In a frying pan on medium heat, add a dash of oil and the onions and garlic. Cook for five minutes or so, until soft but not browned.
  3. Into a pressure cooker, add the onions, garlic, lamb, all the spices, the lemon zest and juice, honey, salt and a cup of water.
  4. Close the lid and bring the pressure cooker to high pressure - cook for 30 minutes.
  5. Release the pressure and remove the lamb to a separate bowl, straining and reserving the cooking liquid. Set the meat aside for now
  6. For the rice
  7. Wash the basmati rice well. Place the washed rice and the raisins into the pressure cooker.
  8. Add the liquid you have from cooking the lamb - you want 1 & 1/4 cups of liquid altogether to cook the rice - top up with water if you don't have enough.
  9. Close the lid and bring the pressure cooker to high pressure - cook for 3 minutes.
  10. Release the pressure and add the rice to the lamb.
  11. For the green almonds
  12. Hull the green almonds by (carefully) slicing through the green pod until you hit the inner nut, cutting around the pod in a circle without slicing through the whole thing.
  13. You should be able to split the green almond open and remove the nut.
  14. Once all the green almonds have been hulled, add to the meat and rice and stir gently to combine everything.
  15. Season with salt and pepper and serve.