Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Meat and Three Veg!

 The traditional  English lunch from many a novel and black and white "kitchen sink drama" is a tired looking Roast Something with a couple of swooning vegetables lying beside it. However the English shouldn't take the rap for this.  My mother, who accuses me of constantly serving "raw" vegetables because I cook them al dente, believes a green bean isn't really "cooked" until it's been in boiling water for at least an hour. She is of Italian ancestry. She has no excuse.
  Our friend Bruce, a lover of Indian food who is originally from England, ran into  my husband at the Epicurean Connection yesterday.  He's a reader of this blog and had mentioned he was looking for more meat recipes ; I'd been doing a lot of veg. That started me thinking. So Bruce this one's for you. Not just a meat and two veg, but a meat and three veg.
   I have now become extremely fond of lamb shoulder blocks. 
My friend Frank the Butcher at Sonoma Market cuts them up in pieces for me and just two of them provide enough to feed 4 people. Just one shoulder block is enough for the 2 of us.
    I like to cook the lamb slowly in clay so the flavors mellow and the meat is falling- off -the- bone tender. That's the thing I like about Indian food. If one is having meat, it's not necessarily great gobs of meat but nice bites, usually surrounded by vegetables and a spicy sauce. In other words, a little goes a long way.
  I'd intended to get this dish started the night before, but it was time for The Wolfs' Rabies shot and after visiting the vet and writing all day (my real job) all I wanted to do when I got home was put my feet up and stream some  Netflix.
  Where did this leave me? Figuring out a lamb in clay dish that could be cooked easily this morning while we worked. Lamb Madras!
   I started cooking around 10:30 in the morning. That is, I got my spices ground and my clay working,
and while we wrote, the lamb cooked and cooked and cooked in my lovely Pomaire Pot. While we  worked in our office  everything was ready for a late lunch at 1:30, including the three veg.
   Here's what to do for a recipe that feeds 4:
1.)  2 lamb shoulder blocks each cut into  about 4  pieces. Rub it all over with 1 and 1/2 tsp of turmeric.
 In a small cast iron skillet dry roast:
2.)  2 Tbs of coriander seeds.
    When they're aromatic, take them out and set them aside. Next dry roast
3.)  2 tsp of cumin seeds
4.) 10 small  dried red chilies
    When all of these spices have been roasted, put them in a blender or spice grinder along with
5.) 6 curry leaves
6.) 10 chopped garlic cloves or shallots
7.)  A 2 inch piece of ginger roughly chopped
   Grind all of this into a paste.
   Then dry roast
8.) 1 tsp of fennel seed till they start to pop then set them aside
 9.)  Put 1 Tbs of tamarind puree in a small bowl for later.
10.) 2 Tbs of oil in a kadhai or deep pot
   Heat the oil and when it's hot toss in
11.) 3 onions thinly sliced
   Cook them till they soften. This will take about 10 minutes or so.
When they're nice and translucent add in the ground spice paste.
Stir it around and cook it for a minute or two,  add the lamb shoulder pieces mix them around well till they're covered in the spice mix.
  Then add:
12.) 2 cups of coconut milk
13.) 1/4 cup of water
  Bring everything to a boil,  turn down the heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes or so until the liquid has reduced.
 Once the liquid level goes down add in
14.) 1/4 cup of coconut milk
15.) a cinnamon stick
16.) 6 green cardamom pods
17.) 6 more curry leaves
18.) salt and pepper to taste
  Partially cover the pot and cook it at a medium heat for about an hour or until your lamb is tender, tender, tender.
  As a finishing touch add in the tamarind, check your seasoning and it's ready to serve.
  I put this dish on the table with a fresh pineapple chutney and my 3 veg, which was zucchini, potato and peas cooked together with spices in a kadhai.
  Finally, as a finishing touch I sprinkled a bit of chopped pistachio over the dish.
So there it is Bruce, a meal where the clay does the work and simmers everything nicely while you attend to other matters. Like work, or very important cheese buying.


  1. If I ate lamb I am sure I would just love this, but I think I'll stick to the 3 veg!!! ; )

  2. I am confused by "curry leaves" - I thought curry was a spice blend. What do you mean by this?

  3. There is a spice blend that rumor has it was created for a former resident of the British Raj in India. he missed the flavors he'd grown used to and so asked his old chef to send him some spices. the Indian chef put a bunch of mixed spices in a packet and shipped them to India, thus "Curry Powder" was born.
    True India cooking doesn't include this sort of curry powder but rather blends of spices that are specific to a dish, or region. For instance there are Garam Masala blends for almost every part of India.
    Curry leaves, that I refer to here are the leaves of the curry plant . These can be used fresh or you can put them in a packet and they freeze very well. They can be found at Indian markets and most south Asian markets.
    here's a link about the plant
    and one of many places where to get curry leaves online if they're unavailable in your area.

  4. This dish looks so amazing. I would love to try this because there are so many different flavors I haven't tasted. Now I have to convince my hubby :)

  5. This looks amazing so many flavors, love it!!

  6. I can smell all the spices from here... curry leave - my favourite



Blog Widget by LinkWithin