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...