My food bias perhaps is starting to make itself known by now.
Wow how I love Indian food.
Not having grown up on my own Indian mother’s personal home cooking, my tastes for Indian food have 100% developed from frequenting local Indian restaurants, mostly located in my college town of Ann Arbor, Michigan. So, I am always seeking recipes that will replicate my favorite dishes at these restaurants. This has been easier said that done.. Most recipes available online just don’t cut it. I have had to search and search to find the perfect combinations, but through trial and error I seem to be mastering the art of knowing what recipe will make a good curry and what is going to completely fall flat. The trick: do not be sucked into making a recipe that only lists a few spices and in small quantities. Indian food is about the flavor- you are going to need a ton of garlic, ginger, and generous quantities of spices.
Also salt. Salt everything. Salt generously. You will be happy.
Most Indian restaurants serve up a variety of dishes, but some of the most familiar dishes are North Indian in origin.. sauces that are delightfully but moderately spiced… makhani, tikka masala, rogan josh, korma, etc. Also they tend to use a bit more dairy as well as nuts and raisins compared with South Indian cooking. From personal experience I’d say most North Indian food is more accessible for the average American trying Indian food for the first time.. there is a decent overlap in terms of familiar spices/flavors/ingredients. That being said obviously South Indian food is awesome in its own right and now that we live in San Diego one of our favorites is a South Indian restaurant (Oh Annapurna how I love you).
Lamb curry is one of Dave’s favorite dishes so I am always on the look out for a good one. I have made several different varieties, but this is the one that I have personally adapted and find myself always coming back to. I hope you enjoy!
This recipe is a lamb curry dish made with a base of onions, tomato, garlic, and ginger. Yogurt and delicious spices add depth of flavor the curry. My method for cooking the lamb is non-traditional, but I think acheives an excellent result.. I advise “braising” the meat in the oven for about 1.5 hours until it is very tender. This is a very European style of cooking a stew, which I think works really well for this type of dish, but is definitely not the traditional Indian method which would be slow-cooked on the stove-top. While I haven’t tested this method for this particular recipe, I’d imagine the cook-time would be fairly similar- you would just want to stir occasionally to make sure you don’t burn anything.
These are the whole spices to be used for this curry. For those of you who are not familiar- the black cardamom is a very different flavor from green cardamom. The black cardamom gives a smoky flavor to the curry versus the green cardamom which is very floral. If you are unable to find black cardamom substitute with 1/4 tsp of smoked paprika in the curry blend.
Loosely adapted from Chef Alfred Prasad Hyderabadi Lamb Shanks Recipe
- 1.5 lbs lamb stew meat, trimmed of fat, and cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 3 small yellow onions, diced
- 3 ripe plum tomatoes
- 1.5 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- 4 garlic cloves, grated
- 4 tablespoons yogurt
- 2 cinnamon sticks (about 2 inches)
- 6 green cardamom pods
- 1 black cardamom pod
- 4 whole cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon kashmiri chili powder
- 2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
- 2 tablespoons ground coriander seed
- Salt (to taste)
- 1-3 tablespoons of lemon juice (to taste)
- Chopped cilantro (for garnish)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Heat vegetable oil in an oven-safe braising dish (I use my cast iron Le Crueset), over medium heat.
- Sear lamb in batches, and remove from oil. Set aside.
- Using the same pot, add the onions. Saute for about 15-20 minutes or until they are golden brown in color. Add ginger and garlic and saute for about 1 minute- be careful not to burn the ginger and garlic.
- Add the whole and ground spices. (Optional- tie whole spices in a small pouch of muslin cheesecloth for easy removal after braising). Stir ingredients until well combined and fragrant.
- Add tomatoes and yogurt, stirring well to combine.
- Return lamb to the pot. Pour water over the lamb until mostly submerged. Bring mixture to a boil.
- Once mixture is boiling, cover, and cook in your pre-heated oven for 1.5 hours or until meat is very tender.
- Remove from the oven; remove whole spices from the curry and discard. Remove lamb from the sauce and set aside briefly. Using an immersion blender, blend the gravy until smooth. If your curry is too watery, boil the mixture on the stove until sauce is nicely reduced. If too thick, add additional water to your liking.
- Season generously with salt and add lemon juice as desired.
- Return lamb to the sauce and mix well.
- Garnish with cilantro.
Note- the recipe as-is is fairly mild. Add 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of cayenne to spice it up a bit.