Preparation / Directions:
Wash the rice in several changes of water. Drain rice and put it in a large bowl. Add 2 quarts of cold water and 1 tablespoon of salt. Mix and soak rice for 3 hours.
Put the saffron threads in small cast iron skillet over medium heat. Toss the threads until they turn a few shades darker in color. Put warm milk in cup and crumple saffron into milk. Let the saffron soak in the milk for 3 hours.
Chop the onions roughly and put into blender with garlic, ginger, 2 tablespoons of the almonds and 3 tablespoons of water. Puree into a paste.
Heat 6 tablespoons of the oil in a 10-inch non-stick skillet. When oil is hot add the raisins and fry until brown and crisp. Remove raisins after a few seconds. Put the raisins on a plate with a paper towel to absorb the oil. Put the remaining almonds in the oil and fry until golden. Remove almonds and place on paper towel with raisins. Set aside for garnish.
Put the meat cubes in the oil, a few at a time, and brown on all sides. As each batch is browned set aside in bowl.
Add another 7 tablespoons of oil to the skillet and turn heat to medium. When oil is hot, put the onion garlic paste from the blender into the oil and fry while stirring all the time until the paste takes on a brown color. If it sticks slightly to the pan, put in a little water and keep stirring. Return meat to skillet along with any juices in the bowl. Add the yogurt, a tablespoon at a time, stirring well between additions. Put in 1 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 2/3 cup water. Stir well and bring to a boil. Cover and turn down heat to a simmer and cook meat for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so to prevent burning on the bottom.
While meat is cooking, put the cloves, peppercorns, cardamom seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg into a spice grinder and turn into a powder.
When meat has cooked for 30 minutes, add all the spices from the grinder as well as the cayenne and mix well. Cover again and continue to cook for another 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so to prevent burning on the bottom.
Remove cover, raise heat to medium and while constantly stirring reduce until you have about 3/4 cup of liquid remaining in the bottom of the pan. Turn off the heat and remove as much of the fat as possible.
Spread out the meat and sauce in the bottom of a glass casserole. cover and keep warm.
Preheat oven to 300F.
Bring 3 1/2 cups of water to a boil in a pan. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons salt. Drain rice and wash it under running water. Slowly add the rice to the boiling water stirring as you add it. Bring rice to a rapid boil and hold for 6 minutes. Remove pan from heat and drain rice.
Put the rice on top of the meat piling it up into a little hill. Make a hole in the top of the rice hill 1 inch diameter going down to the bottom of the rice pile. Drizzle the saffron milk mixture along the sides of the rice hill. Lay the butter pieces along the sides of the hill. Cover the dish with foil and place in oven for 1 hour.
Remove from oven and garnish with sliced hard-boiled eggs, raisins and almonds.