||I don’t like recipes. There are very few of them I can follow from top to bottom. It’s not that I’m lacking concentration. It’s just there is always a point in a recipe where I can’t help to ask myself: Why would you do that? Why would you put raisins in the minced meat with green paprika and olives?Why would you put green cardamom in your chicken?
Why would you want to have fennel in your food? Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love experimenting with my food and trying out new things. It’s just almost every time there is a voice in my head telling me to do certain things differently.
There are some things that I cook regularly, and you can be sure every time it tastes slightly different. If I haven’t cooked something for a while, it can happen that I’ll have to “invent” the whole thing from the scratch. So, if you have something yummy in my house and ask me for the recipe, I will most probably not be able to give it to you. It’s not like I’m having secrets, it’s just I don’t keep recipes, at least not in the sense of correct list and amount of ingredients plus cooking directions.
This was exactly the case with this lamb curry. Luckily enough, I had to put it on paper because a friend of ours praised it so much that I had no choice but to finally write it down. I don’t want to lie to you: this one needs some babysitting, but if you love your food the way I do, believe me, it is worth it. Also, you can always make more and freeze it so you can enjoy the fruits of your work for several days.
Total time: ca. 3 hours
1,5 kg pieces of lamb meat, chopped
3 pieces of garlic
1 piece of ginger, ca. of the size of a thumb
4 fresh tomatoes
2 green chilies
2 black cardamoms
2 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
2 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp fenugreek
½ tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp salt
6 tbsp yogurt
oil for frying
Option A: ½ bunch of fresh cilantro
Option B: 15 dry plums, 10 chest nuts
Option C: a hand full of raisins
- Wash the lamb pieces and dry them on a kitchen towel.
- Slice the onions in reaaaaally thin stripes. If you haven’t had sharpened your knife for a while, now will be a good time.
- Chop tomatoes.
- If you have a blender, blend together garlic and ginger to a paste. Otherwise chop both as small as you can.
- Crush coriander seeds.
- In a big pot, preheat the oil (I use heat level 5 out of 9 available). Add onions and fry until golden-brown and crispy.
- Slice green chilies open from one side. Add chilies, black cardamoms, fenugreek, cumin and coriander seeds, and fry while stirring for 30 seconds.
- Add garlic-ginger paste and fry while stirring for ca. 1 minute.
- Add turmeric powder and stir for couple of seconds. Then add a splash of water and scratch off everything that is already sticking to the bottom of the pot
- Add tomatoes, reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook till it all looks like more or less homogeneous paste. Add a splash of water from time to time, if necessary.
- Meanwhile, preheat an oiled frying pan on high heat (I use heat level 7 out of 9 available). As soon as the frying pan is really hot, add one layer of lamb pieces and fry on each side for about 1-2 minutes. There should be no water in the pan. If there is a bit of smoke, you are doing it right.
- After one portion of lamb pieces is crispy brown from both sides add these pieces to the vegetable paste in the pot. Fry the rest of the lamb pieces the same way and add them to the paste as well. Mix meat and paste well.
- Boil some water (in a water boiler or in another pot) and add hot water to the meat so that meat is completely covered. Turn up the heat a bit so the water is boiling and cook open for 1 hour. Add water from time to time if it’s getting less.
- Add yogurt, close the lid of the pot, reduce the heat a bit and cook covered till the meat is almost tender and the sauce thickens.
- Add fresh chopped cilantro, or plums and chestnuts, or raisins, and cook on a medium low heat for an hour more, till the meat is tender or till you are almost starved and can’t wait anymore for it to get done.
- If you want to save some time, you can buy a ready-made garlic ginger paste in a local Asian store.
- If you want to go with plum option, but are out of plums, use raisins. I tried it yesterday and it was even better.
- No nuts? Don’t worry, it’s not the key ingredient. You can totally leave them out.
- No fresh tomatoes? Use canned ones.
- Missing one spice? Well, what were you thinking? Go and get it, otherwise I can’t guarantee whatever you are doing there will be of any good.