June 27, 2011

Lamb Curry with Chilis and Mint

I got a meat grinder/sausage maker for my birthday this year, but I haven't yet had an opportunity to try it out.  I had planned to grind up some lamb to make a type of ground-meat kabob on the grill sometime this weekend, but the weather unfortunately did not cooperate.    It was too wet for me to enjoy standing outside tending the grill, but I still had lamb on hand and needed to do something with it.   No other great idea came to mind, so I fell back on my default "when in doubt..." solution and made a curry. 

I decided I'd make a lamb curry featuring hot chili peppers, but also including an ample helping of mint, so the coolness of the mint would balance out the heat of the chilis.   I also selected a mix of curry spices heavy on the coriander, which I knew would go well with lamb.  The result was a curry unlike any I've ever made, or had.  Marinating the lamb in lemon juice and spices, browning it in hot oil then stewing it for a long time in a rich, flavorful gravy resulted in the meat being tender and boldly-flavored.  The dish was hot, but not overpoweringly so, and the lemon juice and tomato added a pleasant bit of acid bite, mellowed out by the addition of yogurt and the mint at the end.

I served up this lamb curry with some baked spiced cauliflower (which I'll talk more about in another post), some vegetable samosas we purchased at Maria's Grocery, a couple different sorts of chutney, basmati rice and naan.  This made for a very satisfying meal with ample leftovers for next week.

This recipe is a definite keeper.  It is a bit on the spicy side, so it may not be the best choice for any of our readers that aren't familiar with, and fond of, Indian-style curries, but for those who like curries, or who simply appreciate a bit of heat, I recommend this recipe if you want something delightfully different. 

Lamb Curry with Chilis and Mint

yield = 6 servings

2              lbs lean lamb (leg, shoulder, etc.), cut into
                  bite-size pieces
1              teaspoon turmeric
1/2           teaspoon table salt
2              tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
3              tablespoons vegetable oil
1              large onion, chopped
2              jalapeno peppers, thinly-sliced
2              tablespoons peeled, minced fresh ginger
2              teaspoons minced garlic
2              teaspoons coriander powder
1              teaspoon ground cumin
2              bay leaves
1              cinnamon stick
1              can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes
2              cups low-sodium chicken broth
6              ounces plain yogurt
1/4           cup chopped fresh mint leaves

Add the lamb, salt, turmeric and two tablespoons lemon juice (about 1/2 a fresh lemon) to a bowl.  Stir thoroughly and let sit for about 30 minutes.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.   When the oil is shimmering, add 1/2 of the lamb and cook, stirring often, until browned on all sides.  Transfer the cooked lamb to a clean bowl and repeat with the remainder of the lamb pieces.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the Dutch oven and heat for 1 minute.  Add the onion and jalapeno and cook until the onion has softened and started to brown (about 6 minutes).  Add the ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin and bay leaves and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute.

Add the cinnamon stick and stir in the tomatoes, scraping along the bottom of the pot to remove any cooked-on bits.  Heat to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook for one hour, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid for the last 10 minutes of cooking time.

Remove from heat and stir in the yogurt.   Transfer to a serving bowl and top with the mint.  Serve with basmati rice and naan or other Indian-style bread.

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