And now for something completely different...
I have heard the whines and moans about the lack of meat in the recipes to date and so here is a delicious lamb curry from our good friends Jo and Sat. They are an adventurous pair who having run 120 miles in five days in the Rockies last year are now living in rural India in 50 degree heat. We first tasted this dish when they threw a bon voyage party for us before we went away earlier this year. Steve declared it the tastiest thing he had ever eaten and proceded to eat them out of house and home (presumably why they are now living with Sat's parents in India). Anyway it's a surprisingly simple dish to make - enjoy!
- Vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 whole garlic bulb (finely chopped) - I know this sounds like a lot of garlic but trust me(!)
- 2 teaspoons of grated root ginger
- Chillies (one should do, but it's a matter of taste and it depends on how hot the chillies are - but fresh chillies for best results)
- 2 large onions (chopped very coarsely - i.e. big chunks)
- 500 grams lamb (boneless unless you're a marrowbone fan)
- 3 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 tins chopped tomatoes
- Freshly chopped coriander
Cooking it is really simple.
- Heat a large pan and pour a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil into it. Add the cumin seeds (and savour the lovely smell!). Fry the seeds for about 5 minutes before adding the garlic, ginger, chillies and onions. Fry until the onions start to sweat.
- Next add the lamb, turn the heat down to just above low and cook covered (this will effectively allow the lamb to stew with the flavours of garlic etc and the onions will soften).
- After about 15 minutes, add the garam masala, a teaspoon of salt and turmeric. Leave to cook (covered) for another 45 minutes! Check regularly and stir, as the masala will stick to bottom of pan and burn if the water evaporates - if it's getting dry then add a cup of water. Basically we need to keep some moisture in the mix while the lamb stews with the flavours.
- Add the tins of chopped tomatoes. There's no point tasting the mix as it will taste too tomatoey until the flavours break down. Cook covered on low heat for another 15 minutes. Then taste the sauce to see whether it has enough salt and chilli (depending on your palate you may need up to 2 or 3 teaspoons more at this point). If you have accidently added too much salt then you can fix it by adding some chopped potatoes - they'll absorb some of the salt as they cook. If there is too much chilli then add some sugar (a couple of teaspoons) - Sat actually prefers to add sugar anyway as it gives it a sweeter chilli taste. The dish is cooked when the meat is easily cut with a spoon. However the longer you let the lamb cook the better the flavour and texture of meat. But as you're cooking it you need to focus on the thickness of the sauce - if it's too thick, add hot water, if too thin then let it cook uncovered to let it evaporate off.
- Add coarsely chopped coriander about 5 minutes from the end. Turn off the heat and let it stand for about 10 minutes. Serve with naan, rice and salad.
- You can add mushrooms - when you add the tinned tomatoes add several chopped mushrooms.
- You can also add potatoes - also add when you add tomatoes. They will break down and soften as the curry continues to cook (hence thickening the curry - but they also absorb some of the salt)
- Sat's dad likes to make it with marrow (add with the lamb) - as it will break down and make the sauce really thick.
Total cooking time is about an hour and a half but no longer than 2 hours. The flavour does get even better overnight if you have any left after dinner!