Monday, January 7, 2008

Tested recipe: Coconut-cashew lamb curry

I have returned from my long holiday and an unintentional absence from blogging. The challenge will resume next weekend, but until then, here is a recipe I tried yesterday:
A slightly altered version of Kid Josh: Curried lamb with cashews and coconut milk, from a cookbook I have already reviewed: Charmaine Solomon's Indian Cookbook.

This is originally a Maharashtran Parsi recipe. I have written it down as I prepared it, i.e. with half the meat of the original and a nearly full recipe of sauce. The original serves six, but this should make a nice meal for 2-3 persons. The original is very hot, using 10 green chillies, but all I could get was a large green chilli that turned out to have hardly any heat at all, and as I didn’t feel like running all over town in search of hotter chillies, I used that and added some cayenne powder.

The recipe:

3 tsp chopped fresh ginger
5 tsp chopped garlic (about 5 average cloves)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground loves
1/4 tsp powdered cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt (or more, to taste)
500 g meat from a leg of lamb, fat trimmed off and cut into large cubes

4 tbs oil
1 1/2 cups water

200 g raw cashew nut kernels, finely ground
1 1/2 cups coconut milk

4 large potatoes, quartered and fried
100 ml uncooked rice for each person

Purée the ginger, garlic and chillies in a blender. Add the spices and salt and mix briefly. Divide this mixture in two and marinate the lamb in one half for about 30 minutes. Set the other half aside.

Heat 2 tbs oil in a large saucepan and brown the meat in it. Add the water, cover and simmer on low until the meat is tender and the stock has been reduced to about 2/3 cup. In this case the meat had been in the fridge since Thursday, so it was nice and tender to begin with. Getting it fully cooked and to nearly the “melt-in-your-mouth” stage only took about 40 minutes, but it took another 15 or so minutes of rapid cooking in an uncovered pan to reduce the stock. Separate the meat and stock and set both aside.

Now is a good time to start cooking the rice and frying the potatoes. No instructions are given, as I assume no-one would tackle this recipe unless they knew the basics first.

In a saucepan, heat the remaining 2 tbs of oil to medium heat and fry the other half of the spice purée until it changes colour and starts to stick slightly at the base of the pan. Add the coconut milk, stock and ground cashews, mix well and simmer, stirring, for a few minutes. Add the meat, mix well and let it simmer without stirring until oil rises to the top. (Note: this has to happen at low heat, as the sauce is so thick that it will burn at higher temperatures). Do not cover the pan. Taste and add salt if necessary.

Serve hot with the fried potatoes and hot rice.

Another time I would not serve the potatoes, as the rice is starchy enough by itself.

This is a nice dish with a lovely mingling of flavours and since I made it mild, I could taste both the coconut milk and the cashews in it. However, I would never, ever serve it to guests. Why? Well, it doesn’t look very good, even for a curry. In fact it looks like brownish lumpy porridge (and I am being charitable by likening it to another kind of food). This is why there is no photo.

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