I do cook Indian meals quite frequently (although this may not be reflected in the number of ‘Indian Food’ posts here). A hot meal of dal, roti and rice with maybe an additional side dish or meat curry has become a staple in our household.
India is a large country with very distinct cultures and cuisines in its different regions. This means that I still follow recipes once in a while when I feel like doing something different. A few days ago, when there was a request to make an Indian dinner for some family guests, I turned to the internet to look up some inspiration. What I found was a lovely recipe for ‘gosht dopiaza’ or meat with lots of onions – a very popular dish back home in restaurants. I thought I’d give it a try, of course, with heavy customisation. Once you’re comfortable making a curry of any sort, customising recipes to suit your tastes and what’s available becomes second nature.
It turned out to be a beautiful dish, delicately spiced with an onion-rich sauce and very tender meat. So I tried it again just for the two of us one evening last week when the weather was real gloomy and dark rain clouds were looming large in the sky. Just the kind of day when a warm bowl of curry with some home made naan (on which I hope to do a post some day) is urgently required.
The original recipe can be found at the Saveur website. I added/deleted a few ingredients and scaled it down this time round to serve two.
Indian Lamb Curry (adapted from an original ‘Gosht Dopiaza’ recipe from Saveur.com)
Ingredients (Serves 2 generously)
1 tsp paprika
1.5 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
4-5 cloves of garlic finely minced
a small piece of ginger finely minced
125g thick yoghurt
about 300g meat cut into cubes – this weight is inclusive of a piece of bone; you can substitute lamb with any other meat too
a big knob of butter
2-3tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 stick cinnamon
2 black cardamoms – can substitute with green cardamoms as per the original recipe
2 medium onions finely sliced
1 400g tin crushed/chopped tomatoes – you can make do with half the tin but I used the whole lot for the extra liquid and tomato juices
7-8 small shallots peeled and the larger ones cut in half
some chopped fresh coriander leaves for garnish (optional)
The first step is to marinate the meat. In a large bowl, mix together the paprika, garam masala powder, turmeric powder, garlic, ginger and yoghurt with the meat. Leave covered to marinate for at least an hour or two if not longer.
Heat a heavy based casserole dish. Add the butter and oil. Add the cumin seeds, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, cinnamon stick and black cardamom. Let these cook for a minute or two. Then add the onions and saute until it’s soft. Add the marinated meat along with all of the marinade to the casserole. Add the tinned tomatoes. Add about a cup of water or enough to cover the meat completely. Season with salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium, cover and cook for an hour to an hour and a half until the meat is real tender and the sauce has thickened. Do keep checking and stirring the sauce once in a while.
Just towards the end of cooking time, heat some butter in a separate frying pan and fry the shallots in them until they caramelise with a nice brown colour. Add these to the casserole.
When the dish is ready, check for seasoning and add more salt if required. Garnish with the coriander leaves if you have them and serve with naan, roti and/or rice.
This curry takes a little while to get ready but the end results are well worth the effort. Cooking with Indian spices can seem daunting at the beginning, but once you play around with them a few times, it becomes easier to customise tastes to your own liking. This particular curry is a great crowd pleaser. It also gives you a good opportunity to experiment with those exotic spices you have always had in your kitchen and did not know what to do with them. So next time you have friends or family over, give it a go!