Herald the flu season

Viruses abound. Everyone is sick with some kind of mutant virus. Last week, I celebrated my birthday with high fever caused by a reaction to a tetanus shot. By the time I was able to stand up again, my 5 year old brought home some ghastly virus. Not only has she been running a fever of 102F, she's been coughing her little lungs out. Her petite body is wracked by bouts of coughing, after which she thumps wildly on anything near her from anger and irritation. Codeine for her, tonight. For me, hot spicy lamb curry. Manisha's special slow-cooked lamb without any extra step for marinating the meat. I need something hot and spicy cos my teeth hurt. Yes, I've caught her infection and it is evil. My head aches. My sinuses are choked.

Spicy Lamb Curry
Spice level: must be high to be good

1 boneless leg of lamb (usually about 2 lbs or so), diced into 1 inch by 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 cardamoms
25-30 whole black peppers
12-15 whole cloves
1 long stick of rolled cinnamom (2 inch)
1 tamalpatra dried bay leaf
1 whole dried red chilli
1/8 spoon turmeric powder
3 medium sized onions, sliced
1 can Contadina tomato paste
1 can (15 oz) diced tomato
1/2 can more of Contadina tomato paste
2 teaspoons of freshly grated garlic
4 teaspoons of freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon of Shan Bombay Biryani masala
3-4 tablespoons of Shan Chicken Tandoori masala
yeah I know we're making lamb!
Salt to taste

1. Heat the oil in a large pot, preferably a copper-bottom kadhai.
2. Toss in the whole spices: cardamoms, black peppers, cloves, cinnamom, bay leaf and dried red chilli. Break the long cinnamom stick into smaller pieces about 1 inch long. Watch out for the black peppers cos they pop - right out of the pot into your eye.
3. Add the turmeric powder
4. Add the sliced onions and sautee on low heat until the onions are translucent and almost pink. About 30-45 minutes. The nice thing is that you don't have to be around while this is cooking. If you work from home, go finish off some tasks and head back to stir this mixture every 15 minutes or so. The longer the onions are sauteed the better the consistency of the sauce.
5. Add the tomato paste and diced tomatoes. Continue cooking on low heat.
6. Add the ginger and garlic and cover the kadhai. Continue cooking on low heat till the oil starts separating out of the mixture. This will take another 30-45 minutes. The longer the better. Stir every 15 minutes or so. This mixture tends to burn where the flame heats the pot. Stir the burnt part right back into the mixture. It gives it a delicious flavor. And yeah, I don't want to hear any carcinogenic anything. ;-)
7. Add the Shan spices and mix well.
8. The lamb must be diced into 1 inch by 1 inch pieces. Trim all the fat off. This takes me about half hour or so because I am fussy. I don't like the chewy fat to spoil the taste of the delicious meat.
9. Add the salt but remember that Shan's spices already have some salt.
10. Let this cook on low heat until the lamb is cooked. About an hour at least.

The meat is amazingly tender and because it is diced into small pieces and slow-cooked, the spices permeate the meat and it's hard to believe that it was not marinated. I usually cook lamb this way cos I handle the meat once and I am done with it. It takes a good 3-4 hours but I can do a ton of other things while I am cooking lamb this way.

For a family of three, this is a huge amount. I make three batches and freeze it. It comes in handy when there is an unexpected visitor or if you have to share it with a sister who is hopping through O'Hare on her way back to NJ from California. The last time we met this way, it was after 3 months and I was more interested in the prawn curry that my aunt sent me from San Jose, and she was more interested in the lamb I had frozen for her! That prawn curry was something else! True Goan style prawn curry!! Unfortunately the coconut around here tastes awful and has a stench of coconut oil so I need to get a good crop before I am willing to make that.

Dinner beckons...


Anonymous said...

Hi Manisha! Thank you for this recipe. I made it with about five pounds of lamb last weekend for a group of friends, and it went over great. I had to substitute a plain storebought garam masala for the masala mixes you specify, but that was OK.

After I cooked the onion and spices and all that, I threw it all into the crockpot for about 8 hours, which made it so tender.

I do have a question, though. How do you really tell when the oil separates out from the spices? I don't know if I am waiting long enough for that to happen.

Thanks again! I am American, but I have Tamil friends and am always looking for accessible yet authentic (and HOT) recipes to learn.

Anonymous said...

Oh, my name is Faith. That didn't show up on my previous comment. Thanks again... Keep posting, please!!

Indian Food Rocks said...

Hi Faith! I am glad you liked my lamb curry! I, too, made this in the crockpot the other day and the lamb was very tender. I loved it cos I didn't need to go stir as often as when I cook onthe gas stove! So I ate a lot less while it was cooking!!

As for the oil separating out from the onion mixture, you should be able to see it. The onion-tomatoes-ginger-garlic mixture tends to thicken and the hot oil (now reddish in color) starts emerging from the sides of the paste. What was the consistency of the sauce (or curry, as we would call it)? That will tell you whether you need to sauté it more. The onions have usually lost most of their moisture and the mixture should also be rather thick.

I like the taste of Shan masalas. You should be able to get them from any Indian/Pakistani grocery store. I usually buy them on sale (89 cents). Or you could try online at namaste.com or ethnicgrocer.com. Other trusted brands are: Badshah, MTR, Ashoka.

You have Tamil friends? Have you tasted idli-sambar? For my family, that's comfort food and there was a time when Sunday brunch was idli-sambar.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Manisha! That is very helpful.

I don't think I've had idli-sambar - but I do love dosai, especially rava masala dosa. I've made uppathams for breakfast, too, which are so good.

If you are ever back in Orlando let me know and I will tell you where to find an incredible South Indian restaurant (Dakshin). Really great food...

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Hi, there, hope you are ok. I am really interested to try some of your recipes. I have a request though, if you don't mind, please could you post a picture of what oil looks like when it separates from the spices as i'm still not sure about this. I would be very grateful if you could do this. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anonymous, give me a couple of days to dig through my pictures to see if I have a picture. I may not have one though, in which case, I should be able to take one over the weekend cos I am planning to make chicken curry the same way I make this lamb curry. The only difference is that the chicken cooks much faster. I then let the dish sit for at least one night in the refrigerator so that the chicken gets all the wonderful flavors of the spices in the dish. If you want to contact me by email, my email address is polarmate[at]gmail.com. Replace [at] with @.

Anonymous said...

Hi, thankyou very much for your reply Manisha. I would also like to say how much i'm enjoying reading your blog, and keep up the good work. Hope i'm not giving you any trouble with my picture request. Its just that when it comes to cooking i have had many disasters in the kitchen!Regards

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon, if I can cook, anyone can!

I just posted a primer about onion-tomato based curries - so take a look and let me know if this helps!

Veronica said...

Thanks for a lovely recipe. I made this in a Potjie over an open fire while camping this weekend, delicious.

emily said...

You may not respond to this comment, as this is an older recipe, but I was wondering if you have any advice on what to serve with this. I'm actually using your curry recipe as a base for a lamb "cookoff" (not the recipe exactly, mostly the technique, if that's ok with you). While rice is my go-to side dish, I didn't know if you have any suggestions on the best match up. Plain rice? Rice with a few veggies thrown in? Etc. Thanks for any advice you can give me! I'm taking on 15 lbs of lamb, to turn into curry.

Indian Food Rocks said...

Veronica, I missed your comment earlier. I wanted to make lamb this way when we went camping in mid-September but I was just too overwhelmed and instead made do with hotdogs and sandwiches. I was also paranoid that the aroma might bring the bears right to our campsite. :-D

Emily, 15lbs! Wow! I love this with rice - preferably basmati rice. Plain or jeera (cumin) rice. Sometimes, I add some green peas to jeera rice for some additional interest. You can't go wrong when you pair it with rice! It's aso easier than serving up hot naans. I'd love to know how your cookoff went!

Smiley said...

Recipe description here differs from the page below:


This was the link to here. I notice there is no star anise, mustard seeds etc. Is this an updated version or has it just omitted some ingredients?

I was going to try it but not sure now as cannot decide what to include & leave out. Anyone able to help?


Indian Food Rocks said...

Smiley, TheKitchn adapted my recipe to make their own. I wouldn't use mustard seeds and star anise is something that is usually included in the store-bought mixes, so I don't add that as a whole spice. Does that help you any?

takis_katsaros said...

What is the weight of the tomato paste can that you use please? 6oz, 12oz or 18oz? Thanks!!

Alec said...

Hi Manisha! If I have garam masala and curry powder, how much of each should I use in lieu of making my own? I'm going to try with 3 tbs of each today and can let you know how it turns out. Alec

Alec said...

Hi Manisha! I have garam masala and curry powder - in lieu of making my own, how many tablespoons of each would you use in this recipe? I'm going to start with three of each and let you know how it goes. Alec

Wisz in the kitchen said...

Hi Manisha:
I am so glad I found your website. I will be making this curry for a Christmas gathering in a week or so. Indian Food is perhaps among my favorite cuisines, I'll let you know how it goes. I live in San Diego and already have an Indian Market that I go to find the ingredients.
Perhaps you'd like to check out my website too. http://wiszinthekitchen.blogspot.com
Thanks again!

SB said...

Just made this, thank you for the tremendous recipe!! It was delicious. I have no prior curry cooking experience and this recipe knocked it out of the park. I substituted peas, walnuts, carrots and asparagus for the lamb (vegetarian). So good!!