You know how sometimes...just sometimes...you eat a food that leaves you so unsatisfied that you know you have to make it yourself just to prove that there can be a good version of it...somewhere?
My most recent example of this was inspired by June's Milk Calendar Monday offering. Yes. I know, I know...in certain circles even mentioning that something doesn't taste good because it really doesn't have a passing resemblance to the food its supposed to be is a no-no, since it shrieks not only of an honest knowledge of that food, but also schmecks of foodish elitism.
But you know...sometimes a rendition is just plain, old...bad...and shouldn't be recommended or replicated. This is how I feel about a couple of recipes in this calendar (the "curry" and the jambalaya)
I've posted a couple of chicken curries on this blog...the mild vanilla kurma and my (dare I say successful) attempt at butter chicken. This time I wanted something different and--thanks to a great price reduction on a boned leg of lamb--I found it.
Normally I stick to chicken or veggie curries, so this one was a bit of a departure for me. My Dear Little Mummy's (whom I'm thinking of renaming My Dear Little Cardamummy) mutton curries are quite good, but she doesn't make them very often--they are dry (as opposed to swathed in gravy) coconutty and gingery. I wasn't really in the mood for that sort of curry, so I checked out a few recipes and came up with my own variant...it's part rogan josh, part something I can't remember and part something I saw on Meena's site.
Like all good curries I've had (and I'll add this to the list) this one does not come together in 30 minutes, nor is it constrained by a maximum number of ingredients, assisted greatly by a jar of pre-made stuff. It takes a certain amount of time, but I think for something like this, it's time well invested.
This is a saucy curry-chunks of tender lamb blanketed in a tomatoey gravy. There are little spikes of heat, thanks to the green chilli pepper and the ground chilli peppers and the ginger.
I served some to the same friend who tried the other "curry" and he much preferred it to the Dairy peoples' one ("I thought it was really good. It was what a lamb curry should be.")
Beforewarned: this is a first-time made and straight to the blog concoction, so it's bound to benefit from some tweaking...if you try it, please let me know...
750g lamb, cubed into 2.5 cm pieces
6 green cardamom pods--seeds only, ground
4 whole cloves
10 whole peppercorns
1 5cm shard of cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1½ onions, sliced
3 Tbsp hot garlic and ginger paste, made of
- 1 Tbsp minced ginger
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1 green minced chilli pepper
1½ Tbsp tomato paste
1 175g pot of plain yoghurt
Masala--grind together the following and set aside:
1 tsp coriander seed
1 tsp cumin seed
1 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp chilli pepper powder
1½ tsp salt
Putting it together
- Take about a spoon's worth of the masala and sprinkle it over the meat cubes. Let sit for at least an hour, or overnight.
- Over a medium flame, heat the oil until it shimmers. Brown the meat in batches and remove to an awaiting dish.
- Add the cardamom, cloves, peppercorns, cumin seeds, cinnamon shard and bay leaf to the oil; stir and fry until the spices' aromas begin to waft and the bay leaf changes colour. Add the onions and fry until soft and golden.
- Add the garlic and chili paste. Stir for about a minute or so and then add the rest of the masala and fry while stirring for about a minute or so.
- Tip in the meat and its juices, along with the tomatoes, paste and water. Stir well. Ad the yoghurt and stir. Increase the flame to medium-high and bring the pot to a boil. Turn down the heat, cover and let the pot simmer and blurble for about 45 minutes (stirring every once in a while), or until the meat is nice and tender.
- Taste the gravy at about the 30 minute point to check for seasoning. Adjust to your palate.
- Remove the lid, give it a good stir and turn up the flame to medium. Stir constantly while allowing the gravy to reduce so it's thick, velvety and wants to cling to each piece of meat.
- Don't trim all the fat off the meat. It adds flavour, and well...flavour.