In Lucknow, it's said that there are more than 30 different cuts of goat, each with a different taste and texture.
Parcha is the delicate, well-marbled flesh of the ribs—but Lucknow cooks add other cuts to this dish, too, for variety. This recipe also uses the dum technique of gentle streaming.
For the Stock
- 1 cup usli ghee
- 1 1⁄2 medium red onions, cut crosswise into 1/4"-thick slices
- 3" pieces fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 15 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 4 lb. kid goat or baby lamb front and/or hind leg and rib bones, cut into 2"-long pieces with marrow exposed
- 1 (3") sticks cinnamon
- 5 green cardamom pods
- 1⁄2 tsp. black peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 whole cloves
For the Pilaf
- 1⁄3 cup usli ghee
- 1 lb. bone-in pieces kid goat or baby lamb from meaty ribs, loin chops, and neck, cut into 2"-long pieces
- 1 lb. boneless hind leg of kid goat or baby lamb, cut into 2" pieces
- 1⁄2 cup whole-milk yogurt
- 1 tsp. saffron threads, crushed into a powder
- 3 tbsp. kewra (screw pine) water
- 3 1⁄2 cups basmati rice, preferably aged for 1 year
- 8 green cardamom pods
- 8 whole cloves
- 1 (3") sticks cinnamon
- 1 cup milk, scalded
- 2 sheets silver leaf, optional
For the stock: Heat ghee in a large heavy pot over medium heat until a slice of the onion sizzles instantly when dropped into the pot. Fry onions in 3 batches, stirring often with a slotted spoon, until golden, about 6 minutes per batch. Transfer to paper towels to let drain. Set pot with ghee aside.
Chop onions and put into a blender. Add ginger and garlic and, with motor running, drizzle in 2⁄3 cup cold water through hole in blender lid, blending until a loose paste forms. Set onion–ginger paste aside.
Return pot with ghee to medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, lightly brown bones all over, 6–8 minutes per batch, transferring bones to a bowl as done. Return bones and any accumulated juices to pot, add onion–ginger paste, cinnamon, cardamom, peppercorns, bay leaf, and cloves, and fry, stirring often, for 8–10 minutes. Add enough cold water (about 11 cups) to pot to cover bones by 1" and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, skimming any foam that rises to the surface, until liquid has reduced to about 3 cups, 3–3 1⁄2 hours. Remove pot from heat and let stock rest until bones are cool enough to handle. Remove bones from stock. Scrape marrow out of bones and press it through a sieve back into stock in pot; discard bones. Strain stock through a sieve into a large bowl, discarding spices. Set stock aside to let rest until fat settles on the surface. Skim off and discard all but 1 tbsp. of the fat. Set stock aside.
For the pilaf: Heat ghee in a large heavy ovenproof pot (about 10" wide) with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Season bone-in and boneless meat with salt. Working in 2–3 batches, lightly brown meat all over, 8–10 minutes per batch, transferring meat to a bowl as done. Return meat and any accumulated juices to pot. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, until meat is almost tender, about 20 minutes, adding 1⁄2 cup of the reserved stock when meat begins to stick to bottom of pot. Add yogurt and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in remaining stock, remove pot from heat, cover, and set aside.
Preheat oven to 300°. Mix saffron and screw pine water together in a small bowl and set aside. Put rice into a large bowl, cover with cold water, and swish around with your hand until water clouds. Drain. Repeat process until water remains clear, 4–5 more times. Drain again and set aside. Fill a large pot two-thirds full with cold water and add cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, 3 tbsp. salt, and reserved fat from stock. Cover pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Add rice, reduce heat to medium, and cook, uncovered, until grains are soft enough to be broken easily when pinched but still chalky in the middle, or about halfway cooked through, about 2 1⁄2 minutes. Drain rice in a sieve, discarding spices.
Spoon hot rice over meat in pot in an even layer, then drizzle hot milk on top. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, poke several holes in rice, then drizzle saffron mixture over rice. Cover pot with a large sheet of aluminum foil, set lid on top, and crumple overhanging foil around rim of pot to form a tight seal. Transfer to oven and bake until rice has completely absorbed liquid and is slightly dry on top, about 1 hour. Uncover and adjust seasonings.
Spoon pilaf onto a serving platter. Lay sheets of silver leaf on top, if using.