When it comes to various ethnic cuisines, aromatic and flavorful Indian cuisine is unparalleled, but then you might say I’m biased, which of course I am. 🙂 I believe Indian food is now being appreciated in America, much later than other countries have embraced that particular cuisine. I recall when we first moved to Delaware, there was nary a spice store in sight, and definitely no restaurants unless we drove to Philly. So much has changed since the early 70’s or 80’s. Indian cuisine is enjoyed by many now and definitely up there with the other Asian cuisines. As a blogger, I notice many non-Indian blogs that encompass this cuisine in their repertoire.
I’ve been to friends homes to demonstrate the art of preparing and simplifying Indian cuisine, or have friends come by our home and go on a culinary journey to India with me. I don’t profess to be an expert, but over the years I’ve really enjoyed sharing what I know, wee tips and tricks, displaying my whole and ground spices, helping identify some unknown spices and generally a basic knowledge of how it is all put together. I thoroughly enjoy this form of cooking together, fueled of course by plenty of vino and warm friendships. One such occasion happened a couple weeks ago. A friend and her husband, together with their daughter wanted to learn all of the above, so we chose a menu, and got to work. The best part of course was gathering around the table and treating our tastebuds to everything that we’d prepared. Indian meals do take a long time to come together, so two and a half hours later and a couple of bottles of vino and we were ready to dine. Indian cuisine is pretty labor intensive, so I probably cook it about once a week, but more so in the winter time.
Our menu consisted of cubed pieces of lamb cooked in a creamy almond sauce. Many Indian meals were inspired a few centuries ago by dishes from different countries. Shahi korma (lamb cubes smothered in a rich almond and cream sauce), owes its ancestry to Persian cuisine, writes Madhur Jaffrey whose recipe I adapted. In addition, we cooked a sweet potato and spinach curry, and last but not least, a wonderful aromatic basmati rice with cashews, lime and coconut shreds. Click on the links to reach the recipes. Today, we will feature the lamb.
Did you notice my hand embroidered apron? I got that as a gift from a colleague when I retired. Indian cooking requires patience and a lot of time. The sautéing takes a while, most of the dishes start out with the chopped onion, fresh ginger, fresh garlic and some other spices. In the above picture, the lamb was browned in a pan and kept aside, next the onions and other other spices were added. One of the pictures also features the base for the sweet potato and spinach dish with mustard seeds and the final picture is the rice being sautéed with the onion, whole spices and ghee.
Royal Lamb in a creamy almond sauce
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 5 tablespoons blanched, slivered almonds
- 3/4-1 cup water
- 7 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 lb boned lamb from the shoulder or leg cut into 1 inch cubes
- 10 whole cardamom pods
- 6 whole cloves
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
- 2 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
- 12 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
- Put the garlic, ginger, almonds and 6 tablespoons of the water into the container of an electric blender. Blend until you have a paste.
- Heat the oil in a wide, heavy, preferably non-stick pot over a medium-high flame. When hot, put in just enough meat pieces so they lie, uncrowded, in a single layer. Brown the meat pieces on all sides, then remove them with a slotted spoon and put them in a bowl. Brown all the meat this way.
- Put the cardamom, cloves and cinnamon into the hot oil. Within seconds the cloves will expand. Now put in the onions. Stir and fry the onions until they turn a brownish color. Turn the heat down to medium. Put in the paste from the blender as well as the coriander, cumin and cayenne. Stir and fry this mixture for 3-4 minutes or until it too has browned somewhat.
- Put in the meat cubes as well as any liquid that might have accumulated in the meat bowl, the salt, the cream and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil. Cover, turn heat to low and simmer lamb for 1 hour. I put it in the oven for about 40 minutes to further cook it till it was tender. Check it every so often and stir during the cooking period.
- Skim off any fat that floats to the top. Sprinkle in the garam masala and mix.
- Remove whole spices if you can and serve.
Further cooking the lamb in the oven, rendered it moist and tender. Enjoy friends!