Somebody took me to a real Curry dive in Cleveland that had the slowest service since my old 2 a.m. hangover days at the infamous Taco Bell in Rogers Park. When the food eventually did arrive it all--and I mean every single dish-- had a half inch of Ghee floating at the top. This reminded me of my beloved Bubba Rachel who brought me up in Manchester, England and found a way to use schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) in every dish she made, save, perhaps, the fruit compote. At any rate, this was a night of pure revelation for me. Not all of the people of India and its diaspora can cook! What a crushing shocker. This here is the real deal. Consider the fact that my lovely lady wife, Elsie, hates the very smell of lamb. The brilliant spicing in this dish will transform even the most pungent lamb.
* Cooking t i m e 7 0 m i n u t e s
* S e r v e s 6
A 2 inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
12 Cloves garlic
4 cups pink wine
2 cups vegetable oil
2 Ibs cubed lamb
10 cardamom pods
4 bay leaves
1 medium Cinnamon stick
4 medium onions, peeled and chopped fine
2 tsp ground coriander
3 tsp ground cumin
4 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp cayenne pepper (or, if you want to grow hair on your toes, boil, skin and mash 2 habanero/scotch bonnet peppers)
1 tsp kosher salt
2 cups natural yogurt
1 tbsp garam masala
Blend together the ginger, garlic, and two cups of ice cold water into a smooth paste. Brown the meat along with one of the onions, two cloves of garlic along with two cups of wine. Once it’s browned, set aside. Heat the oil in your favorite heavy-duty skillet over a medium flame. Fry--all the while stirring gently--the cardamom pods, bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns and Cinnamon in the oil. Add the rest of the onions, stir fry until the onions are golden brown. Then slowly add the garlic-ginger paste and stir in for a minute, then gently add the coriander, cumin, paprika, cayenne and salt. Stir and mix for a couple of minutes. Add the meat and its juices, mix well so it’s all coated with the paste. Add the tablespoon of yogurt, mixing well on low light before gradually adding the rest of the yogurt, stir and fry for another three minutes. Add another two cups of water, bring it to a low, rolling boil, while scraping away the sticky bits from the bottom of the pan into the sauce. If you would like it to taste a little sweeter use more pink wine.
Cover the pan and simmer on a low light for 80 minutes, checking and stirring the pot every ten minutes or so. The sauce should slowly turn viscous and bubbly, but not too thick. If it is thick enough that the spoon sticks, you need more liquid and should add wine or water. Finally, spoon off the excess fat, sprinkle the garam masala and black pepper and mix one last time before serving with basmati rice and nan.