Friday, December 9, 2011

Sri Lankan lamb curry

When we moved back to Edinburgh from Cadiz in July, I thought I would be cooking lots of Indian food and I also hoped I would be teaming up with Sammy and Carmela in the kitchen. It hasn't really worked out that way, as I've found myself getting to grips with the changing contents of our weekly veg box, discovering the joys of jam and chutney, rediscovering pickles, and continuing to perfect my sourdough. Sammy and Carmela, quite wisely, have preferred the charms of Harry Potter, the Wii and Phineas and Ferb to the dubious appeal of playing a walk-on part in my one-man kitchen drama.

(Head chef all cooked out and back watching some Phineas and Ferb on the internet!)

Today I finally managed to tempt them back into the kitchen, and we had a bit of a cookathon. Carmela made mincemeant for the first mince pies of the Christmas season and also helped me to make some great fish and beef won ton, and Sammy cooked up a Sri Lankan lamb curry, with me playing the role of sous chef. The recipe comes from Madhur Jaffrey's "100 Essential Curries", and I uncharacteristically planned and shopped before we made it.

whole spices
4 teaspoons of whole black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon of whole peppercorns
6 teaspoons of whole coriander seeds
4 cloves
spice paste
1 small onion
2-inch chunk of ginger
6 cloves of garlic
small bunch of fresh coriander
1 red chilli
1 tsp ground turmeric
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp salt
50 ml water
1 cinnamon stick
4 cardamom pods
20 curry leaves
1 kg diced lamb
1 can of coconut cream

  1. Use a spice mill or pestle and mortar to grind the whole spices.
  2. Peel and chop the onion, ginger and garlic. Put into a measuring jug with the roughly chopped coriander, deseeded chilli, turmeric, lemon juice, salt and 50 ml of water, and whizz with a hand blender until you have a smooth paste.
  3. Heat a good glug of vegetable oil in a large pot. When hot, add the cinnamon, cardamom and curry leaves, fry for a few seconds and add the lamb. Fry for a few minutes until the meat is browned, then add the ground spice mixture and fry for another 30 seconds or so before adding the paste.
  4. Cook for 5 minutes, then add just enough water to ensure that the meat is covered. Bring to the boil, cover and reduce heat to minimum and simmer for about 1.5 hours until the lamb is tender.
  5. Add the coconut cream and cook for another 5 minutes.
As the sous chef it was my job to grind the spices with the pestle and mortar. It was surprisingly quick, but that didn't stop me from going onto amazon and ordering an electric spice mill post haste.

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