Madhur Jaffrey’s Green Lamb Curry
When my sister gave me an Indian cookbook for Christmas, I was less than thrilled. Call me jaded. But at least my sister understands. However while reading her first recipe my opinion took a complete 180° when she compared fried papad (also known as pappadoms) to Gehry-like shapes and microwaved papad to Hadid-like shapes. (I know my friend Mike who requested this recipe would also soften to such architectural metaphors.) So, you could say that Jaffrey had me at “Frank.”
I made this curry on Monday, and by Tuesday at noon there were no leftovers. I only used half the amount of cilantro called for because that’s all I had, anise seeds for fennel seeds, and slightly more meat, and it turned out so heavenly. I also used less of the coconut milk because we had some kind of first-press coconut milk that was like coconut cream. It was so brilliant. I haven’t had such a good meat curry since I was in London eating home cooking, if that says anything.
- 2 tbs fresh lemon juice (don’t use fake stuff, it’s ick)
- 1 to 2 cups of cilantro leaves removed from stem and roughly chopped
- 1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and diced
- 4 large cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 jalapeno, diced (I didn’t de-seed it; recipe calls for 3-4 hot green chili’s like bird’s-eye)
- 1/2 tsp ground tumeric
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds (I used anise because that’s all I had)
- 1 medium onion, chopped (I used red)
- 1 1/4 pounds boneless lamb (she prefers shoulder but I used lean leg steaks) cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch cubes
- 1/2 cup or less of coconut milk from a well-shaken can
Add this to your blender in order: lemon juice, 1/2 cup water, the cilantro, ginger, garlic, chilies, turmeric, and salt. Blend into a paste, scraping the sides if you need.
Preheat your oven to 325° F.
Pour oil into an ovenproof pan (with a cover that fits) and set over medium-high heat. When oil’s hot, add the fennel (or anise) seeds and TWO SECONDS LATER add the onions. When the onion’s browning on the edges, deploy the meat and turn up the heat to high. When meat’s lightly browned, add your curry paste and wait until it simmers. Cover and place in the oven for at least an hour, but possibly 75 minutes until your meat is to-die-for tender. If for some reason it’s not, return to the oven for 15 more minutes or so. Because I used leg meat the meat was perfectly tender in an hour. Diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks. When the meat’s done, add the coconut milk and gently reheat just before serving.
I served this on flatbread because store-bought naan was expensive, and I’m too lazy to make chapattis. I had some fancy basmati rice with lentils from another recipe in her book I froze that I put out as well, because most Americans are not used to eating Indian food sans rice. If you have any errant cilantro leaves (don’t lie, I know you do) leftover toss them on top of the curry for some garnish. Now pat yourself on the back for making a bomb curry.
If you’d like to serve this with a raita, which I do, because I love raita, I made a quick one with 1/3 of a cuke, diced, some tomato, cumin seeds toasted then roughly ground, salt, pepper, yogurt, and water.
I also had my sous-chef/sidekick do some papad Hadid-style, which we served with Patak’s mango chutney. For a small party, I think this was an overkill, but for a larger party it would be great for an hors d’oeuvre.
This dish will definitely impress. It’s gorgeous and delicious. I don’t want to say it’s the best Indian dish I’ve made because I’ve got pride and this comes from a cookbook, but I’m a gori (white) girl, and that’s probably true.
Nota bene: according to Wikipedia in South Asian cuisine they don’t make a distinction between fennel and anise seeds, so I was in the right all along. (If you know any of us Schieblers, you know we’re always right. And we often are.)