Simple Lamb Curry With Carrot Raita
Time: about 1 1/2 hours plus marinating time
FOR THE LAMB
FOR THE RAITA
1. Put the lamb in a bowl with the ginger, garlic, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cayenne and 1/2 teaspoon salt and mix well. Marinate at room temperature 30 minutes, or up to several hours refrigerated (even overnight is fine).
2. Heat the ghee or oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until softened. Turn up the heat to medium-high and add the seasoned meat. Lightly brown the meat and onions, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes or so. Add the cloves, peppercorns and cinnamon stick, then add 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and turn heat to gentle simmer. Cook for about an hour, or until the meat is fork-tender. Taste the sauce and add salt to taste. Raise the heat and let the sauce reduce a bit, if desired. (May be prepared ahead to this point and reheated before serving.)
3. To make the raita, put the yogurt in a bowl. Heat the ghee or oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and cumin, let them pop a bit ó be careful ó then stir in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, till barely golden. Carefully stir the hot contents of the skillet into the yogurt. Add the grated carrot, cayenne and salt, to taste. Let the raita sit at least 10 minutes to allow the flavors to mingle. Just before serving, stir in the mint, chives and cilantro.
Yield: 4 servings
An Indian Curry Close to Home
By DAVID TANIS
Published: February 17, 2012
IF youíre looking for a rich deep-flavored curry, you donít need to go out. With only a few ingredients you most likely have on hand, you can produce a good one at home. Aside from the meat for this simple lamb curry (you may use chicken thighs if you prefer), the shopping list is relatively short: onion, ginger, garlic, turmeric, cumin, coriander, peppercorns, clove, cayenne and cinnamon.
For the non-Indian cook, traditional Indian cooking may seem too involved, complex or cumbersome, but itís not necessarily so. When you learn some basic easy techniques, the process becomes less daunting.
For instance, you can get into the pleasant habit of toasting and grinding your own spices. It is a simple matter of heating them (in this case cumin or coriander seeds) in a small dry skillet. When they become fragrant, after just a minute or so, they are ready to be pulverized using an electric spice mill or mortar. This small effort provides the aroma and fresh flavor that packaged ground spices often lack.
Another utterly simple technique is using the essential paste of fresh ginger and garlic found in so many Indian recipes. For a small amount, employ a micro-plane grater, or the fine holes of an ordinary box grater. The lamb, marinated briefly in this paste along with the spices, becomes transformed.
The next step is the careful browning of the meat with the onions. If the heat is too high, they will burn; too low and you wonít achieve the caramelized flavor youíre after. Attentive stirring for about 10 minutes is required. After that, add water, turn down the heat, put on the lid and relax. The curry will be ready in about an hour.
Sizzling spices is yet another way to impart flavor to a dish. For the carrot raita that accompanies this curry, this technique is what really adds dimension. Mustard seeds are heated in a small amount of ghee or oil just until they pop, along with a bit of garlic and cumin, then stirred into yogurt. The raita gets additional spark from fresh mint and a little cayenne heat.