Anyone have a good lamb curry recipe?
As an Indian from West Bengal, "lamb curry" translates to "maangsher jhol'' which for my generation & background meant a very thin yet flavorful stew prepared from the kid of Black Bengal goats, a breed akin to the Nigerian Dwarf found in the USA. [ Caution:The latter is not the same as the genetically chondroitic African Dwarf breed; this has a bearing on muscle fiber thickness].
Most versions were prepared without garlic or onion [see mycomment on generation etc.] For a recipe & context see Chitrita Banerjee, Bengali Cooking: Seasons & Festivals; Serif, London; 114-5.
For lamb, both alliums are necessary. Shank and shoulder, i.e. a front quarter cubed into relatively large chunks are best for braises and any prepartions involving contact with water, along with the rear shank & rib & loin chops. The leg/thigh & very fat breast/riblets are not suitable.
In this method from West Bengal, a slightly sweet gravy results, with a distinct tang of mustard oil & cane jaggery plus Indian cassia leaves comprising the distinctive "Bengali' taste. In the original, asafetida, ghee et.al. were used with some freedom. We shall substitute tomato and some others here.
I kg of shank & shoulder cubes, washed. Young BOER goat even better. You need BONES.
1 tablespoon good quality turmeric, either wet-ground rhizome or powder
1-2 teaspoon aromatic red pepper powder or fresh-ground paste
1-1.5 Tb wet-ground fresh ginger; or more, depending on quality & blender
2 Tb good mustard oil
2 Tb dark brown sugar or cane jaggery
Sea salt to taste
1 teaspoon fresh ground coriander seed [ very optional]
1 cup diced red or yellow onions
1 cup diced fresh tomato: plum, cherry, beefsteak. A little more if you like or add a bit of canned puree, esp. in winter when fresh is expensive.
Mix vigorously all of the above by hand in a large bowl, squeezing & crushing the tomatoes. Let sit for an hour or more while you prepare the rest.
Yukon Gold, Red or Russet potatoes, skin on, scrub, halve, or leave in huge chunks. Scant oil, mono-unsaturated canola or peanut, in non-stick frying pan, lightly brown their surfaces, and also their skin sides. Set aside. The potatoes cooked in gravy not only extend the meat but are perceived as a treat on par with the meat itself.
Thinly slice red, yellow or white onion along the North-South axis, root-stem, as fine as you can manage. Onion bulbs are storage leaves with parallel veins. So, this "polar" axis allows slices to later disintegrate in the gravy better than "equatorial" slices would. 1 cup or a bit more should do, raw onion.
A few fat cloves of garlic, very VERY coarsely diced. How much is your call.
4-5 Indian CASSIA leaves [iShopIndian is an online source, many others]. NOT BAY leaves!! If you confuse these two, disaster looms! lol
Collect together: a few pieces of Indian CASSIA bark (see source above), 3-4 green cardamom pods (lightly bruise), 3-4 whole cloves. This is the Bengali garam masala you will need WHOLE. Reserve a similar quantity, in case you need to touch up flavors at the finish with some GROUND powder.
Place the sliced onions in sufficient vegetable oil, warm or cold, in a frying pan or wok, with a half tsp. sugar. Cover tight and place on medium low heat. Onions will seethe & stew for a while, depending on quantity of oil & heat flux. Eventually, gray rags will begin to coalesce into clumps that will release oil as they begin to turn gold. Pay attention as you stir these clumps, since you have raised the heat now. You can recover most of the excess oil you had invested in frying the onions. This is the correct way to prepare the onion base: low & slow.
When the onions are a very light gold, push them to one side and tilt the pan to pool oil over heat source. Remove excess oil if you have been using a lot to get the onions cooked well. You will need a 2-3 TB remaining.
Add the cassia leaves, quickly followed by cassia bark, cardamom & cloves. Cloves will swell & may jump out & injure eyes. CAUTION!!. Note: Pay attention to heat, you will need high heat but not burn stuff. Use judgment.
Now add garlic, quickly stir until light golden. All of the above is happening in seconds, so be organized!! Pull in the onions that now should be perfectly golden, and add the meat + marinade. Stir. Cover.
Cook on high simmer until meat 2/3 tender. The fat inside membranous sheath should have turned "crunchy", as we say in Bengal. Now is the time to begin "browning", bhunao or kosha, to develop the fond that gives the distinctive Bengali taste. Gradually raise the heat to moderately high and be prepared to attentively use a thin metal spatula to scrape the brown fond into the liquid and carefully stir the meat around, again and again. The liquid will reduce and you will see a not-too-fatty residue of spices and onions et.al. Exactly how far to cook that base is a matter of experience. Like a Cajun roux that can be blond or black, controlling the degree of caramelization in this fond affects the final taste of the curry gravy.
A high degree of caramelization combined with added GHEE will thoroughly cook the meat, creating the KOSHA manghso beloved in Bengal. This is a dry-braise.
We shall proceed only to an intermediate degree, to where we can still smell the ginger & mustard oil as separate components. It is always useful, even necessary, to learn true Indian cooking from an experienced cook. This is one subject that cannot ever be accurately transmitted by recipe alone. There are etic elements, and then the emic elements that word cannot convey!
Anyway, transfer to non-reactive dutch oven or Sitram brazier type utensil, add boiling water to just below cover, set on diffuser over moderate flame. When simmering, add more boiling water, and keep at strong simmer. Add potatoes, more boiling water. Use SOUND judgment to determine when meat & potatoes achieve YOUR desired level of tenderness. Taste for seasoning, sugar/salt balance, strength of broth. Add boiling water if needed & simmer longer. Add pinches of GROUND UP garam masala if needed.
Serve with fresh LIME, not Lemon, & steaming plain Jasmine Rice, NOT Basmati. This is a very thin, mild dish. Mash hot potatoes into the rice & steaming gravy as you eat. That is the fun part. To manage this, you will need A SPOON & A FORK & both HANDS to eat, as the good Lord intended you to!!
(The Rarh gentry in West Bengal prefer their savory dishes extremely mild, without chili heat and with a distinct sweetness.)
I make a dish that started out as a cookbook recipe for Moroccan tagine made with beef or lamb tagine, but over the years I've spiced it up and it's now more of a curry. It's really good and quite easy to make, and serving it with cauliflower (part of the original recipe) makes a different and eye-catching presentation!
3 - 4 lbs lamb, cut into 1" - 2" cubes
1/4 cup peanut oil
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 medium onions, chopped
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
pinch of saffron
1 tbsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp cayenne
1 lg cauliflower
juice of 2 lemons
Heat the oil over high heat in a heavy casserole.
Add the meat, turmeric, salt, and pepper to taste, and stir until browned.
Add the onions and the rest of the spices, stir well, then reduce heat to low and simmer one and a half hours, until tender.
Shortly before it's done, break the cauliflower into florets and steam until tender, then set aside.
When the lamb is done, transfer it to a large low-sided baking dish with all of the sauce.
Distribute the cauliflower pieces evenly on top and bake for about 15 minutes at 425 degrees, until the cauliflower just starts to brown.
Remove from oven, sprinkle the lemopn juice on top, and serve.
The original recipe called for a little water to be added for simmering, but I found in making it many times that I didn't really need to. The combination of the cooking oil, the juices and fat from the meat, and all the moisture that exudes from the onions provides plenty of liquid and makes a nice rich sauce.
The one thing I did forget to mention is to cover the pot while simmering. I use a Le Creuset dutch oven and it needs very little liquid to braise the meat beautifully. If you're using a thinner pot or one without a tight-fitting lid, you may need to add a bit of liquid.
Hard to know what you mean by "authentic." From what I understand, Indian restaurant cooking is very different from what Indians cook at home, even in India. I love Madhur Jaffrey and would recommend any of her books and recipes. But they're not like the kind of thing you'll get in a restaurant.
If you want something to come out like the restaurant version of lamb curry, one of Jamie Oliver's books has a great recipe. I think it's the book with the purple cover. It's called Return Of The Naked Chef here in England, but I think it may have a different title in the US. The recipe is in either book, and it comes out just like a lamb curry takeaway that you'd get in England, which is sometimes fun to cook at home. You may also be able to google it.
Lamb Curry Korma
I always use lamb shoulder for curry as it's much more flavourful and the longer cooking it requires makes a better curry. This is a “Dry” or thick curry and isn’t supposed to be runny.
2 Tbsp Butter Ghee
20 large black pepper corns, crushed
1 Tbsp black cardamon seeds, crushed
8 each whole cloves, crushed
1 Tbsp chili flakes
1 Tbsp coriander seed, ground
1 Tbsp cumin seed, ground
2” chunk fresh ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 large French Shallots, minced
3 pounds lamb shoulder roast
1 cup white wine
1 cup lamb, veal or chicken stock
1 cup thick yogurt
2 cups coffee or single cream (min 18% BF)
2 cups finely chopped Cashew Nuts or Pistachios
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp garum masala, best if whole seed, then toast and grind fresh
Cut lamb into 1” cubes, reserve bones if present
In a heavy 6- to 8-quart sauce pan, heat Ghee until almost smoking. Add garlic, ginger and shallots and cook stirring constantly, ‘til fragrant and soft. Increase heat to “high”. Add peppercorns, cardamom, cloves, chili, coriander and cumin. Fry 30 seconds, not more. Immediately add the lamb to stop the spices from burning and brown (you can do this in batches if your stove is low BTU or pot is too crowded).
When lamb is nicely caramelized, add wine and deglaze the pan. Simmer briskly until all liquid is evaporated. Add stock and simmer until nearly evaporated. Add cream & yogurt and simmer gently until lamb is tender.
Add Garum Masala and simmer 2 – 3 minutes more. Add nuts and cilantro and stir ‘till thickened (1 – 2 minutes)
Serve over your best basmati rice and don’t forget to wash/rinse the rice thoroughly before cooking.
This dish is great with shredded coconut, raisins , chutney and Mint Raita as condiments.
I was a bit puzzled about the use of wine, shallots and cream in this recipe.
I think 2 or 3 cups of yellow onions, that are well browned, and then cooked long enough to break down and thicken the stew, would be more typical.
The use of 1T of black cardamom feels like too much, given its strong smoky character. Half that in green cardamom sounds better.
Evaporating the cooking liquid several times is typical of Indian stews. Pressure cookers are popular in India, but I don't see how this kind of recipe could be adapted, at least, not if you want to keep this double evaporation. Also I wouldn't want to use pressure after adding the yogurt and cream. In some recipes the yogurt is added gradually to avoid separation.
It's a Northern, Royal or Court Recipe. Definitely European influenced. You will find this type of dish in many restaurants and at homes for special occasions.
This is a rich, creamy, over the top recipe. Part of it's appeal is all the small bowls of condiments and chutneys that you would serve with it. It also improves with age. Make it a day or two ahead and reheat to serve.
Per Paulj below, I think the Cardamon s/b 1 Tsp not 1 TBSP.
Do not sub the caramelized onions for the cream, it would destroy the character of this dish. This recipe is all about the guilty pleasure of rich, creamy food.
If you are really aiming for authentic, there isn't such a thing as a lamb curry. There are a wide variety of Indian lamb stews.
Rogan Josh is a Kashmiri style of lamb stew. If you want to make it from scratch, assemble a dozen whole spices (coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, mace, turmeric ...) etc and so forth.
Or, you can go to your neighborhood Indian grocery, buy a bag of frozen lamb cubes (cut from the whole animal with a bandsaw), a jar of rogan josh spice paste (such as Pataks brand), and follow the recipe on the jar :-)
Whether working from a paste or scratch, also get a jar of garam masala - this is spice mix that is used to brighten up flavors right at the end of cooking.
I love rogan josh. This recipe is by Madhur Jaffrey:
It makes a very spicy, wonderfully aromatic dish. Once you get all the spices assembled, it goes fairly quickly so don't be intimidated by the long list. I prefer using lamb shoulder (bone in) to leg of lamb, it's more messy but it makes a very moist and tasty dish.
No recipe, but if you have some time on your hands, I have a technique to suggest.
Rather than going with the traditional chunks of stewed lamb, which, imo, are somewhat tricky to cook to a perfectly succulent texture (due, in part, to the lack of fat), try grinding your boneless leg of lamb and making lamb meatballs.
You haven't lived until you've tasted a lamb meatball korma. Meatballs are about a thousand times better than cubes of stew meat.
This is my standard--it's a very traditional dish from Peshawar. We like it very spicy so note the amount of Indian chili.
3 lb leg of lamb, cubed, with or w/o bones depending on preference
1 large sliced onion
2-3 Tblsp oil
1 Tblsp garam masala
1 Tbslp ground cumin
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp Indian chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 can whole tomatoes
3 Tblsp crushed coriander seeds (use coffee grinder). Looks like a lot but this is what IMO, makes the dish.
Cook onion in oil till transparent, then add lamb and all spices except coriander. Turn and brown lamb in spices about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes. Cover and cook about 10 minutes. Stir in crushed coriander. Cook with lid barely ajar 1-2 hours or till lamb is very tender, stirring occasionally. Should have lots of gravy-like sauce. Serves 6.
You can try an Indian market if there's one in your town. It's also written"chilly" but the proper Hindi name is Lal Mirch. Never seen it in the supermarket aisles. It's bright orange-red and made from just ground chilies, not at all the same thing as the chili powder mixture used for chili con carne. I think half that amount in cayenne pepper would be a good equivalent substitute since all I can really taste is the heat anyway.