Posts Tagged 'lamb'

Jamie Oliver – Peter’s Lamb Curry

Curry & Rice

I take my hat off to Jamie Oliver. I’ve never tried a recipe of his where I wasn’t pleased with the outcome. His first book, The Naked Chef, has to be one of the most useful cookery books available. It’s worth the price of admission for the bread and pasta recipes alone. The curry recipes in Jamie’s latest books do tend to use ready-made curry pastes for speed and convenience. Nothing wrong with that, of course, I just prefer to make a ruby from scratch.

This recipe is extremely good, worthy of Camelia Panjabi herself. It’s adapted from his second book, “Return of the Naked Chef”. I thought it looked interesting and was tempted enough to try it last weekend. It’s quite similar to the base lamb curry I normally use, so I thought I’d adapt my own recipe to include Jamie’s “fragrant spice mix”. I’ve upped the amount of green cardamom in the recipe, as I love the flavour so much. The whole spices are toasted in a dry frying pan before being finely ground and added to the curry. I also cook the entire dish in the oven rather than cooking the lamb on the hob. It requires less babysitting, as I can just throw the casserole in the oven and forget about it.

Serve with some pilau rice and naan bread. Jamie recommends adding paneer to the curry, a type of Indian cottage cheese. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Jamie Oliver recipe without a final flourish of “fresh ‘erbs”, would it?

Masala Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tbsp fenugreek seeds
  • ½ tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 clove
  • small piece of cinnamon stick
  • 10 green cardamoms

Curry Paste Ingredients

  • thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled
  • 2 large red onions, peeled
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 red chillies

The Other Ingredients

  • fresh coriander & fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons butter/oil
  • 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 300ml stock
  • 1.5kg lamb, diced
  • fresh mint, handful
  • fresh coriander, handful
  • 300ml natural yoghurt
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • lime juice
  • salt and black pepper

Method

  1. Toast the whole spices for a minute or two in a dry frying pan until they release their aroma. Transfer to a spice grinder (or mortar) and leave to cool. Grind to a fine powder and set aside.
  2. Put the curry paste ingredients in a blender and process until you get a smooth paste. Add a little water if you wish.
  3. Heat a large casserole and add the oil/butter. Gently fry the curry paste and ground spices, stirring regularly.  Add the tomatoes and the stock and bring to the boil. Cover the casserole with a lid and place in the oven for one and a half hours to intensify the flavour.
  4. Fry the lamb pieces in the oil until coloured before adding to the curry sauce. Return the casserole to the oven and cook for around 2 hours or until the lamb is tender.
  5. Stir in the chopped fresh coriander and mint, then stir in the yoghurt.  Season to taste with some freshly ground black pepper and some lime juice.

Serves 6.

Notes

  • If you’d like take try some different curry recipes, I’d recommend my South Indian Lamb Curry as a good starting point. After that, try your hand at these! 🙂

Lamb Shank Rogan Josh

Cardamom

This is a really special recipe, for those who like putting a bit of love (and time) into their curry-making. The spicing is different to my standard Kashmiri Lamb Rogan Josh recipe because it doesn’t use any shortcuts. I don’t use a lot of pre-ground spice here – I toast the cumin, coriander, fennel, peppercorns and cloves before grinding and adding to the gravy. I use authentic Kashmiri chillies for both their flavour and deep red colour. I use shanks of lamb because traditional Rogan Josh is slow-cooked with the meat bones, giving a very deep flavour and rich consistency. It would make a fantastic dinner party dish.

I also use a whopping 25 green cardamoms in this recipe – no, it’s not a mistake! I love the flavour of cardamom and it’s certainly pushed centre-stage in this recipe. Removing the seeds from the green husk is a bit of “pullaver”, but it’s worth the effort. You could add a little saffron, as it’s very traditional in Rogan Josh, but I find the flavour tends to dominate and I don’t want anything to interfere the other spices. A traditional Rogan Josh will also normally include some yoghurt but I prefer it without as I don’t want a creamy consistency in my RJ. Give it a try, it’s the best curry you’ll ever taste.

Ingredients

  • 4-6 lamb shanks
  • 2 tbsp sunflower/groundnut oil
  • knob of butter
  • 500g onions, chopped (about 3 large onions)
  • 8 cloves  garlic, peeled
  • thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and chopped roughly
  • 25 green cardamoms
  • 1 tbsp each of the following: coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2-inch piece of cinnamon (broken into small shards)
  • 5 cloves
  • 500g tomato passata
  • 500ml water
  • 1½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri chili powder (if you can’t find this, replace with 1½ tsp regular chili powder and 2 tsp sweet paprika)
  • 3 whole dried Kashmiri chilies
  • 2 large black cardamom pods
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala (optional, but make sure it’s homemade!)

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.
  2. Crush the green cardamoms using a mortar and pestle. Separate the black seeds from the green husk and discard the husk.
  3. Using a dry frying-pan, carefully toast the cardamom seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, peppercorns, cloves and cinnamon shards. Keep the seeds moving in the pan, taking care not to burn them. You’ll know they’re done when they start to release a heady aroma. Transfer to a spice/coffee grinder (or a mortar and pestle) and allow to cool.
  4. Grind the toasted spices to a fine powder.
  5. Place a cast-iron casserole on the hob and heat the oil and butter. Add the lamb shanks and turn until golden on all sides. Remove the shanks using a slotted spoon and set aside.
  6. Add the onions to the residual oil in the casserole and cook gently for around 30 minutes until soft and light brown in colour. Add the garlic and ginger and for another two minutes.
  7. Remove the browned onion mixture from the casserole using a slotted spoon and add to a blender. Add a little water and blend until very smooth.
  8. Put the casserole back on the heat. Add the onion/garlic mixture to the casserole, then add the ground spices, chilli powder, whole dried chillies, black cardamom pods, bay leaves. Fry for a minute before adding the tomato passata and the water. Stir well to combine before returning the lamb shanks to the gravy, along with any juices that have collected. Transfer to the oven and cook for about 3 hours until the meat is very tender, almost falling off the bone.
  9. Before serving, you can spoon off some of the fat which has risen to the top of the sauce, if you wish. You can add a little garam masala to taste also. Best served with plain basmati rice or a Kashmiri pilaff.

Serves 4-6.

Notes

  • Of course, you could use good quality stewing lamb in place of the lamb shanks. Use 1.2kg of leg/shoulder and follow the instructions in the Kashmiri Lamb Rogan Josh recipe.
  • This recipe requires a very smooth gravy. For this reason, I’d recommend investing in an electric spice (coffee) grinder. But a mortar and pestle will work well too – it just requires more effort to get a finer textured masala.

Traditional Irish Stew

Irish Lamb Stew

Ok, first of all: “Irish Stew”, in the traditional sense, is never made with beef and it does not involve Guinness! (See here for a delicious Beef & Guinness Stew.) Traditional Irish Stew is the most simple of dishes, consisting of lamb, vegetables, stock and little more. It’s a perfect example of how good quality ingredients can taste amazing when cooked very simply. Some purists might baulk at the idea of putting carrots and thyme in an Irish stew but that’s my version. Give it a try.

I roasted a shoulder of lamb recently and got it together to make an excellent stock from the bones, which I then put in the freezer for later use. Lamb stock has quite a strong flavour and is not as “all-purpose” as chicken or beef stock; it is generally used only in lamb dishes. The stock is well worth the effort and you can use it as a base for this stew. If you don’t have any, just use light chicken stock.

Serve with some soda bread on the side.

Ingredients

  • 12 small lamb chops ( I used loin chops, you could also use an equivalent amount of neck or gigot chops)
  • 10 medium sized potatoes, halved
  • 4 sticks celery, quartered
  • 4 large carrots, washed but unpeeled and quartered
  • 1 litre lamb or chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp pearl barley
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Trim some of the excess fat from the chops. Melt the fat in a large cast-iron casserole and add the chops. Fry until golden and reserve. Por the fat out of the casserole and de-glaze with some of the stock.
  2. Place all of the ingredients in the casserole, then top up with water to just cover the meat and veggies. Season with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Cover the casserole, bring to a gentle simmer and leave for 1½ – 2 hours. Check the seasoning and add some chopped fresh parsley.

Serves 4.

Leftovers

  • If treated right, leftovers can be more impressive than the original meal. To the leftovers of this stew I added 500ml of hot vegetable stock and whizzed with a stick blender. I added some frozen peas, broad beans and some chopped flat-leaf parsley. The results were superb.

Lamb Saag

Indian Spices

This recipe is more or less Rick Stein’s Lamb & Spinach Karahi recipe, but I’ve simplified the recipe slightly and radically adjusted the amount of ghee/oil required. There is absolutely no sense in using 250g pure fat simply to fry half a kilo of onions. It’s crazy!

I’ve also added some dried fenugreek – it gives a great background flavour and is so typical of Indian curries.

As well as having a great flavour, this curry has a vivid green colour and makes a great visual contrast to “red” curries such as Kashmiri Lamb Rogan Josh or Butter Chicken.

Ingredients

  • 1.2kg diced lamb
  • 2-3 tbsp sunflower/groundnut oil
  • 500g onions, chopped (about 3 large onions)
  • 12 cloves  garlic, peeled
  • 50g root ginger, peeled and chopped roughly (about the size of a golf ball)
  • 400g canned tomatoes
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp each of the following: red chilli powder, sweet paprika, ground coriander, turmeric, garam masala, dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)
  • 300g spinach leaves
  • 4 medium-sized green chillies, stalks removed & roughly chopped

Method

  1. Place a cast-iron casserole on the hob and heat the oil. Add the onions and cook the onions gently for around 30 minutes until soft and light brown in colour.
  2. Blitz the garlic, root ginger, tomatoes and water in a blender until smooth. Remove the browned onions from the casserole using a slotted spoon and add to the blender. Blend again until very smooth.
  3. Put the casserole back on the heat. Add the onion/tomato mixture to the casserole, then add the diced lamb, chicken stock and the ground spices. Stir to combine. Transfer to the oven and cook for 2-2½ hours until the meat is very tender.
  4. Just before the lamb is finished cooking, make the spinach puree. Put 200g of the spinach leaves in a large saucepan along with a splash of water. Place a lid on the saucepan and cook for about 2 minutes or until the spinach has wilted down. Transfer the spinach to a liquidizer along with another splash of water and blend until smooth. Set aside.
  5. Make the green chilli pureé. Blend the green chillies with some water until smooth and add to the curry. Set aside.
  6. Check the lamb is cooked to your satisfaction. At this point, you can spoon off the fat which has risen to the top of the sauce (see below). Stir through the spinach puree and the rest of the spinach leaves. Add the green chilli puree and simmer and heat through for another 5 minutes.
  7. Stir through the garam masala and fresh coriander. Taste for seasoning, adding plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Serve with rice and naan bread with some cooling yoghurt on the side, if you wish.

Serves 6.

Goan Beef Vindaloo

The Big 8 – The only curry recipes you’ll ever need!” – Part 5/8

Curry & Rice

Vindaloo has a pretty bad rep, being the lager louts favourite, but it’s actually a very traditional dish and a great example of early fusion cookery. It originated in Portugal – the Portuguese spice traders brought their traditional pork dish “vin des alhos” to the sub-continent, where the meat is braised in wine and garlic. The Indians substituted wine for wine vinegar and added lots of chilli and a little spice. This traditional recipe has a fantastic flavour.

It might look a little strange to see beef  in a curry as it’s not often seen in Indian restaurants here. But many Indians, such as Parsees, Muslims and Christians regularly eat beef and many traditional recipes exist for beef. Even some Hindus will eat “bull” beef or buffalo, only omitting the cow from their diet for religious reasons. Vindaloo is more commonly prepared with diced pork so you can easily substitute the beef.

Vindaloo should taste sour and pungent from the chillies and red wine vinegar. It’s for serious curry aficionados only, but you could try reducing the amount of chilli if you want a milder dish.

I love that this dish is so vastly different from the Kashmiri Lamb Rogan Josh and South Indian Lamb Curry that I cook. I think the important thing for us Westerners cooking Indian food is to embrace the differences between all of these dishes. It’s all too easy to expect every curry to taste the same, as it does in a bog-standard curry house.

Ingredients

  • 1.2kg stewing beef
  • 2-3 tbsp sunflower/groundnut oil
  • 500g onions, chopped (about 3 large onions)
  • 15 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 50g root ginger, peeled and chopped roughly (about the size of a golf ball)
  • 1 tbsp of each of the following: cumin seeds, poppy seeds, garam masala
  • 20 curry leaves (fresh, if possible)
  • 5 cloves
  • 400g canned tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp concentrated tomato pureé
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp red chilli flakes
  • ½ tbsp each of the following: paprika, turmeric
  • 1½ tbsp red wine/cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp light muscovado sugar
  • handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped (optional)

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.
  2. Prepare two masalas – one with the ground spices (chilli flakes, garam masala, paprika, turmeric) and one with the whole spices (cumin seeds, cloves, curry leaves, poppy seeds). Set aside.
  3. Place a deep cast-iron casserole on the hob and heat the oil. Add the onions and cook them gently for around 30 minutes until soft and light brown in colour.
  4. In the meantime, blitz the garlic, root ginger, tomatoes and water in a blender until smooth. Remove the browned onions from the casserole using a slotted spoon and add to the blender. Blend again until very smooth.
  5. Put the casserole back on the heat. There should be a little residual oil, but you can add a little extra. Add the masala made from whole spices and stir fry for a minute to release the flavours.
  6. Add the onion/tomato mixture to the casserole, then add the diced beef and the ground spice masala. Add the chicken stock, salt, vinegar, sugar and tomato pureé, then stir to combine. Cover the casserole and transfer to the oven and cook for about 2-2½ hours until the meat is very tender.
  7. At this point, you can spoon off some of the fat which has risen to the top of the sauce, if you wish. This is great with a pilau or plain basmati rice.

Serves 6.

Notes

  • Lamb curries are best, in my opinion, because the meat gives a deep flavour to the gravy. Chicken gravies can be good too, but need a little extra help. If you want to make this into a chicken curry, make the sauce as normal and cook in a low oven for 1 hour and turn the oven off. Leave the casserole to cool in the oven overnight. This will really develop the flavour of the gravy. When ready to cook, add cubed chicken or bone-in chicken breasts and cook for about an hour, or until the chicken is well cooked through.
  • Restaurant vindaloo invariably contains potato, seemingly caused by some confusion over the fact that potatoes are called “aloo” in Hindi. Potatoes are not found in a traditional vindaloo, but it is not uncommon to find potatoes in other meat curries. If you wish to add some potato to this dish, pre-boil some peeled potatoes in salted water and allow to cool. Fry the potatoes in hot oil with a little salt and a pinch of ground cumin until light golden. Add the potatoes to the curry a few minutes before serving to warm through.

South Indian Lamb Curry

The Big 8 – The only curry recipes you’ll ever need!” – Part 4/8

Curry

This has become my “default” curry recipe and with good reason. It’s best made with lamb, but also good with chicken (see notes below). It’s essentially a “copy-cat” recipe of Bombay Pantry‘s excellent curry, of which  I’m a big fan. I think it’s pretty close to the original, in both flavour and texture. I call this “South Indian” curry because it includes many ingredients indicative of the region: curry leaves, mustard seeds and coconut.

Incidentally, I recently bought a bag of fresh curry leaves to see if they made a difference to this dish (I normally use the dried variety). I was very pleased with the result. They cost me about a euro in the Asia Market (on Drury Street) for a large bag of leaves. I just rinsed them well, let them dry completely, and froze in a ziplock bag.

Ingredients

  • 1.2kg diced lamb (shoulder or leg is good)
  • 2-3 tbsp sunflower/groundnut oil
  • 500g onions, chopped (about 3 large onions)
  • 10 cloves  garlic, peeled
  • 50g root ginger, peeled and chopped roughly (about the size of a golf ball)
  • 1 tbsp of each of the following: cumin seeds, black/brown mustard seeds
  • 15 curry leaves (fresh, if possible)
  • 400g canned tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp concentrated tomato pureé
  • 2 tbsp dessicated coconut
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp each of the following: red chilli flakes, ground coriander, garam masala
  • ½ tbsp each of the following: paprika, turmeric, dried fenugreek leaves
  • 2 tsp light muscovado sugar
  • handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.
  2. Prepare two masalas – one with the ground spices (chilli flakes, ground coriander, garam masala, paprika, turmeric, fenugreek) and one with the whole spices (cumin seeds, mustard seeds, curry leaves). Set aside.
  3. Place a deep cast-iron casserole on the hob and heat the oil. Add the onions and cook them gently for around 30 minutes until soft and light brown in colour.
  4. In the meantime, blitz the garlic, root ginger and tomatoes in a blender until smooth. Add a little water to loosen if necessary. Remove the browned onions from the casserole using a slotted spoon and add to the blender. Blend again until very smooth.
  5. Put the casserole back on the heat. There should be a little residual oil, but you can add a little extra. Add the masala made from whole spices and stir fry for a minute to release the flavours.
  6. Add the onion/tomato mixture to the casserole, then add the diced lamb and the ground spice masala. Add the chicken stock, coconut, salt, sugar and tomato pureé, then stir to combine. Cover the casserole and transfer to the oven and cook for about 2-2½ hours until the meat is very tender.
  7. At this point, you can spoon off some of the fat which has risen to the top of the sauce, if you wish. This is good with plain basmati rice or lemon rice.

Serves 6.

Notes

  • Lamb curries are best, in my opinion, because the meat gives a deep flavour to the gravy. Chicken gravies can be good too, but need a little extra help. If you want to make this into a chicken curry, make the sauce as normal and cook in a low oven for 1 hour and turn the oven off. Leave the casserole to cool in the oven overnight. This will really develop the flavour of the gravy. When ready to cook, add cubed chicken breast and simmer gently for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is well cooked through.

Kashmiri Lamb Rogan Josh

The Big 8 – The only curry recipes you’ll ever need!” – Part 3/8

Curry & Rice

Rogan Josh, when done well, is one of my favourite Indian dishes. Traditional Rogan Josh is miles apart from the restaurant version you may be familiar with. According to Camellia Panjabi, “rogan” is Hindi for “red”, referring to the deep red colour imparted by the use of mild Kashmiri chillies. “Josh” means “fat”, referring to the fat which melts out of the meat during braising. This recipe uses my standard base curry recipe and traditional Rogan Josh spices such as cardamom, fennel and saffron. The result is a dark, highly aromatic gravy – my trick is to lightly crush some of the green cardamoms to release lots of flavour.

A word on the spicing. Most traditional recipes specify fennel powder instead of fennel seeds – if you can’t find it and don’t have an electric spice grinder, just add the whole fennel seeds. The saffron can be optional as a lot of people don’t like it, but for me it’s indispensable in this dish. Use just a small pinch of saffron threads so that you don’t overpower the rest of the spices. Leave to infuse a little warm water before adding to the gravy. Finally, if you can source dried Kashmiri chillies mentioned above, use those instead of the chilli powder specified below. I add a tablespoon of sweet paprika to boost the red colour instead.

Ingredients

  • 1.2kg diced lamb (shoulder or leg is good)
  • 3 tbsp sunflower/groundnut oil
  • 500g onions, chopped (about 3 large onions)
  • 8 cloves  garlic, peeled
  • 50g root ginger, peeled and chopped roughly (about the size of a golf ball)
  • 400g canned tomatoes
  • 600ml chicken stock
  • 1 cup yoghurt
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp each of the following: red chilli powder, sweet paprika, ground coriander
  • 1 tsp each of the following: turmeric, fennel powder
  • 6 green cardamoms
  • 1 large black cardamom
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 5 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • pinch of saffron threads, soaked in warm water for a few minutes

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.
  2. First off, prepare all the ingredients above. Prepare two masalas – one with the ground spices (cayenne, paprika, ground coriander, salt) and one with the whole spices (bay, cardamom, cloves, fennel seeds, pepper corns). Crack the black cardamom and peppercorns using a mortar and pestle. The green cardamoms should be crushed a little more vigorously, making sure at least some of the black seeds within are crushed to a powder. Set the masalas aside.
  3. Place a cast-iron casserole on the hob and heat the oil. Add the onions and cook the onions gently for around 30 minutes until soft and light brown in colour.
  4. Blitz the garlic, root ginger, tomatoes and water in a blender until smooth. Remove the browned onions from the casserole using a slotted spoon and add to the blender. Blend again until very smooth.
  5. Put the casserole back on the heat. There should be a little residual oil, but you can add a little extra. Add the masala made from whole spices and stir fry for a minute to release the flavours.
  6. Add the onion/tomato mixture to the casserole, then add the diced lamb and the ground spice masala. Pour in the chicken stock, yoghurt and saffron mixture, then stir to combine. Transfer to the oven and cook for about 2-2½ hours until the meat is very tender.
  7. At this point, you can spoon off some of the fat which has risen to the top of the sauce, if you wish. Garnish with some julienned fresh ginger. Best served with plain basmati rice.

Serves 4-6.

Notes

  • This recipe also works fantastically well with lamb shanks. Brown 4 shanks on all sides in a separate frying pan before adding to the gravy at Stage 5, in place of the stewing lamb. The shanks will take a little longer to cook, at least 3 hours. This is called “Nalli Rogan Josh” and would make an impressive dinner party dish for fans of Indian food.

Rick Stein’s Lamb & Spinach Karahi

Indian Spices

This recipe is adapted from Rick Stein’s “Food Heroes” book and was given to him by Mumrez Khan when he visited Bradford’s Karachi Restaurant, when filming his TV series of the same name. I love the way the green chillies are added – they’re blitzed at the end with a little water and added to the curry, giving a delicious, fresh flavour.

Mumrez’s recipe specifies a heart-stopping 250g of ghee (!), which is an Indian clarified butter. I’ve used a more reasonable 150g here, with no resulting loss of flavour. I’ve also modified this recipe to use only 2-3 tbsp oil, which is a lot better for you. Check out my Lamb Saag recipe for details.

Note: You do have the option of skimming off some of the ghee at the end of cooking. The best way to achieve this is to leave the pot to stand at a slight angle for 15 minutes. That way, the ghee will collect at one side of the pot where it will be easy to skim off.

Ingredients

  • 150g ghee
  • 550g onions, chopped (about 3 large onions)
  • 65g garlic, peeled (about 1 bulb/12-15 cloves)
  • 50g root ginger, peeled and chopped roughly (about the size of a golf ball)
  • 400g canned tomatoes
  • 200ml water
  • 900g boneless lamb (leg or shoulder), cut into large cubes
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp each of the following: turmeric, red chilli powder, sweet paprika, ground coriander, ground cumin
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 200g baby spinach
  • 2-4 medium-sized green chillies, stalks removed
  • 2 handfuls fresh coriander leaves, chopped

Method

  1. Heat the ghee in a large cast-iron casserole. Cook the onions gently for about 20 minutes until soft and light brown in colour. Take the casserole off the heat.
  2. Blitz the garlic, root ginger, tomatoes and water in a blender until smooth. Remove the browned onions using a slotted spoon and add to the blender. Blend again until very smooth.
  3. Return the mixture to the oil in the casserole and add the lamb and salt. Simmer gently for 30 minutes. The sauce will now be well-reduced.
  4. Stir through the ground spices and cook for a further 1½-2 hours. Add a little water every now and then if the sauce starts to stick.
  5. Just before the lamb is finished cooking, make the spinach puree. Put 150g of the spinach leaves in a large saucepan along with a splash of water. Place a lid on the saucepan and cook for about 2 minutes or until the spinach has wilted down. Transfer the spinach to a liquidizer along with another splash of water and blend until smooth. Set aside.
  6. Make the chilli pureé. Blend the green chillies with some water until smooth and add to the curry. Set aside.
  7. Check the lamb is cooked to your satisfaction. At this point, you can spoon off the fat which has risen to the top of the sauce (see below). Stir through the spinach puree and the rest of the spinach leaves. Add the green chilli puree and simmer and heat through for another 10 minutes.
  8. Stir through the garam masala and fresh coriander. Taste for seasoning, adding plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Serve with rice and naan bread with some cooling yoghurt on the side, if you wish.

Notes

  • The addition of pureéd spinach may seem bonkers, but it tastes really good and also lightens the dish somewhat. You could add the spinach directly to the curry without pureéing but you lose out on the excellent colour it gives the dish.
  • A note on cooking times: Rick’s recipe specifies 1½ hours total cooking time. I’ve found this does not give enough time to make the meat very tender, which is the way I like it. I cook this gently for 2-2½ hours which gives me the result I want. Next time I make this curry, I’m going to cook it in the oven – 160°C for 2½ hours should do it.
  • Finally, important for all curries (indeed, all stews and braises), this will taste immeasurably better on the second day after being left to stand overnight. This softens the flavour of the garlic, onion and spices and allows the curry to mellow. Do give this a try if you can – leave to stand overnight then prepare the spinach puree when you’re reheating the curry.

Variations

  • Add a 400g tin of cooked chickpeas to bulk this recipe out and give it some extra nutrition.
  • Adding a tablespoon of dried fenugreek leaves gives this curry an extra dimension.
  • Omit the spinach leaves and use this as a “base” sauce, adding extra ingredients to make your favourite restaurant-style curry: lemon juice will give you a “Madras”. Adding lots of dried chillies, a little red wine vinegar and some cubes of cooked potato will produce a “Vindaloo”. Add a portion of tarka dal, sugar, lemon juice and some cubed pineapple to give you a “Dhansak”. And so on…

Serves 6.

Seekh Kebab

Seekh Kebab with Naan Bread and Raita

Seekh kebabs are a classic on Indian restaurant menus and typically cooked in the tandoor oven. “Seekh” means skewer, but the truth is you don’t really need skewers for this; just form the meat into long sausage shapes before cooking. You can also form the meat into patties, which will turn them into a “shami” kebab. My version uses great flavourings such as fenugreek, fresh mint and garam masala.

The trick to achieving a good seekh kebab is to finely mince the lamb. Minced lamb from the butcher or supermarket is typically too coarse. Use a food processor to pulse the lamb giving a finer texture. By doing this you won’t need any binding ingredients such as egg or flour. Don’t go crazy with the food processor, you don’t want purée!

Serve with naan bread, salad and raita.

(Note: you could also add a small pinch of red food colouring, as the restaurants do, but you really don’t need it.)

Ingredients

  • 450g minced lamb (I used minced lamb shoulder)
  • thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 2 green chili peppers, very finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1 tbsp tomato pureé
  • 1 tsp salt
  • handful fresh mint
  • handful fresh coriander
  • juice of ½ lemon

Seekh Kebab

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Run the lamb mince through your food processor to achieve a finer texture, as described above. Place in a mixing bowl.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well before shaping, use metal skewers if you have them.
  4. I like to use a grill pan to cook this in the oven. This means a lot of the fat can cook out of the meat, but it will still be succulent. Place on the grill pan and cook for 15 minutes.

Serves 4 as a starter, 2 for a main course.

Braised Lamb Shanks

Lamb Shanks #2

This recipe produces meltingly tender meat and a rich, deeply-flavoured sauce. This recipe also scales easily, so adjust the amounts to fit the number of diners. I like to use a cast-iron casserole for this, searing the meat and braising in the same pot. It allows me to de-glaze the casserole with red wine and take advantage of the delicious brownings left by the meat. Serve with pommes dauphinoise and minted peas.

Ingredients

  • 2 lamb shanks
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • sprig fresh rosemary, finely chopped (about 2 tsp)
  • 250ml red wine
  • 100ml water
  • 1 tbsp tomato pureé
  • salt & pepper

Method

  1. Season the lamb shanks with some salt and pepper, then dust with plain flour. Heat some olive oil in a cast-iron casserole and fry the shanks over a high heat until browned on all sides. Remove the shanks and set aside.
  2. Pour off some of the oil if it seems excessive. Now the fry the onions, celery, garlic and rosemary until they colour and start to “catch” at the edges. Pour in the wine and de-glaze the casserole, scraping at the meat brownings. Bring the wine to the boil and add the water and tomato pureé. Mix well and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Return the lamb shanks to the casserole along with any juices that have collected from the meat. Spoon over some of the sauce and place in the centre of the oven. Cook for 3 hours until tender.

Serves 2.