Saturday, 8 February 2014

Lamb Curry

Have I ever mentioned how much I despise housework? I really do. And more so with every passing year. But today, house cleaning was just downright drudgery. I wanted to just spend the whole day in my jammies watching the figure skating on the Olympics while feeling very sorry for myself for the extremely bad winter we're having. I was thinking I might possibly eat some chocolate and peanut butter toast too because desperate times call for desperate measures. But with age comes wisdom. And I've skipped a weekend of cleaning in the past, only to learn that dirt not only waits for you, it proliferates more than double if you skip a week. And it plots against your happiness and backstabs you to it's germy friends! So like a soldier, I trudged on. But my heart wasn't in it at all. I went in to dust my bedroom, and there on the night table, beckoning me, was the Laura Calder cookbook my girlfriends rigged the Secret Santa party this year to make sure I got! And thank you for arranging that Hallie and Joeanne and Rosemary and Julie! So I sat on the side of the bed and started leafing through it. Housework be damned because this is research! I came across her recipe for lamb curry, and since I just purchased a wonderful lamb from my friend Mary, I decided to give it a try. Especially since I had every single thing the recipe called for in my pantry! So I wouldn't have to gear up with snow boots and parka and toque and ski gloves and warm up the truck for twenty minutes to go to the market. It's as though God made me peruse through that cookbook today.

So let's get to work!

To make 8 servings you'll need as I write it here since this is Laura Calder's exact recipe, but I halved the meat since I'm only serving 2 people. I kept all the spices the same though. And I also added a carrot which the recipe did not ask for, but I like carrot in my curry, so I took some liberty there. And I used sour cream instead of Greek Yogurt since that's what I had on hand. But use the yogurt if you have time to plan this recipe.

Vegetable oil to brown the meat
4 pounds of cubed lamb meat
a 2 inch piece of chopped fresh ginger
8 cloves of chopped garlic
1 chopped onion
10 green cardamom pods crushed
2 bay leaves
6 cloves
10 peppercorns
1 stick of cinnamon
4 teaspoons of ground cumin
4 teaspoons of paprika or Kashmiri mirch (I used paprika)
2 teaspoons of ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoon of garam masala
1/4 up to 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (depending how hot you want it) I used 1/2 a teaspoon and it had a lovely, warm heat, but no burn by any means. I'd use more next time.
6 tablespoons of Greek yogurt
freshly ground black pepper and chopped coriander upon serving

I used a cast iron Dutch oven for this. Brown the meat in batches in the oil and set aside. Blend the garlic and ginger with 1/4 cup of water in a food processor to form a paste. After the meat has browned, add the onions to the pot and sauté them gently until softened. Stir in the cardamom, bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon stick and the ginger/garlic paste. Then add the cumin, paprika, coriander, salt, garam masala and cayenne. Add the meat and yogurt (and the sliced carrot if you want it) and 2 cups of water. Stir it all up and cover and let it simmer for about 1 1/2 hours until the meat is very tender. (but I let it simmer for about 2 1/2 hours) Now here is where Laura Calder and I part ways. She tells you to let it cool completely here and refrigerate it overnight and serve it the next day. I get that because the flavours will develop overnight. But Ain't Nobody Got Time for That Laura! We need supper today! So I made it earlier in the day and let it chill and served it up after a few hours. Serve it with rice and a side of dahl (lentils) and Naan bread. Yum! Such a lovely way to warm your belly on a cold winter's day! And I have to tell you this - this was one of the best tasting curries I've ever tasted in my life. So thank you Laura Calder and to all my good friends who paved the way for this day to happen for me!

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