Saturday, May 28, 2011

Lamb Dopiaza Recipe Gets Me Blogging Again!

I hadn’t realised quite how much of a rut I was in cooking –wise until I tried a couple of new recipes last week. The rapture  that greeted the Aloo gobi and Lamb Dopiaza were enough to convince me that I’d been depriving my family of taste sensations for too long. Besides having nothing to write about on my blog, what with the herb garden going into winter remission and endless repeats of old favourite recipes appearing on the menu week after week.

Work suddenly got busy at the end of March and since then I’ve had no energy to spare for blog or food creativity. Head in a spin, I’d head for the sofa with a nice escapist book after reading the children’s bedtime story, letting the computer put itself to bed and rest its weary keys.

Then I got a recipe project to write for a regular client and got out the Madhur Jaffrey recipe book to find some authentic Indian recipes. Spices began to waft enticingly at me from its folds. Unfortunately this job never has the budget or time for testing recipes. I write, winging it, via internet research and an inner taste compass. If they’re tantalising enough I cook them afterwards for myself. There had been a bookmark next to the Lamb Dopiaza recipe for ages, but I still hadn’t tried it. Lot’s of cross-referencing later I came up with an adapted version, going back to some of the original spices. And it was good. It worked first time... and the second time when I made it again this week by popular demand.

Now a confession – I’m all for authenticity and this recipe should be made with lamb, mutton or to be really authentic, goat. Beef never... cows are after all sacred in much of India. But all the lamb here comes  as chops, stewing lamb with bones in, or roasts. I couldn’t bear to buy a beautiful leg roast and chop it up into cubes, so I bought cubed beef instead. Still, beef dopiaza doesn’t really have a ring to it, so here’s the recipe for lamb dopiaza – gorgeous fragrant cubes of lamb with whole spices and onions, warming and sustaining on a cold winter evening.

Recipe for Lamb Dopiaza
1 kg / 2lbs boned lamb shoulder in 2 cm cubes
5 medium onions
Vegetable oil
10 cardamom pods, crushed
2 cinnamon sticks
10 cloves
2 teaspoons cumin
1/4   teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
½  cup plain yoghurt
1 teaspoon salt
Black pepper

Dry the meat cubes with kitchen paper.
Slice the onions in half and then into half rings that are about 2mm thick. Heat enough oil to cover the base of the frying pan and fry the onions over a high heat for 8-10 minutes, until they have coloured and softened. Keep stirring so that they don’t burn and stick. When they are done remove them to a plate with a slotted spoon leaving any oil behind.
Put the whole spices into the frying pan and stir in the hot oil for a few seconds, then add the cumin and immediately add the meat and brown it on all sides.
Put the yoghurt in a bowl while the meat is cooking and beat in ¼  cup of water until it is smooth. When the meat has browned, pour in the yoghurt mixture, season with salt and pepper, add cayenne if you are using it and stir. Bring the liquid back to a simmer, cover the pot and cook gently over a medium low heat for about 30 minutes. Stir again then continue cooking until the meat is tender, about another 30 minutes. Return the fried onions to the pan and turn the heat up, to boil away the excess liquid until there is just a thick tasty sludge of spices and oil left in the bottom of the pan. This should take about 5 minutes.

We had this with rice, aloo gobi (potato and cauliflower, for which I’ll post the recipe soon), raita and a daal. It felt like going out for a good Indian meal, without the hassle of driving home in the dark! The only thing missing was the naan bread. I haven’t yet managed to make anything like those wonderful soft pillows of naan that you get at an Indian restaurant, at home. So there still is a good reason to eat out, thank goodness!