Meat Maharaja – and a detour into pornography
I will never understand the fact that it is obvious to me that all the best cookbooks have almost no pictures and yet what people buy are books with pictures. ‘Oh’ they will say ‘I need the picture, it’s what makes me want to cook the dish’. Rubbish! The ingredients, the story of the making as it unfolds, this is what makes your imagination understand the dish. Not a picture, least of all one by a food ‘stylist’ who has patently faked what you look at. And yet, this seems to be the cooking version of sexual pornography. Just as men are all too happy to watch ummm, actresses, pretending to have orgasms, so women seem perfectly content to know that these pictures are fake and yet not be the least put off by that. Amazing. The book for this recipe – Classic Indian Cooking – is no exception to the rule. Full of fabulous recipes, no pics, nobody has heard of it!
The title of this one is absolutely not the least of an exaggeration. This is a royal dish. I love it.
4 tbsp ghee
2 large onions, peeled and roughly chopped
1” piece of ginger, ditto
4-6 cloves garlic, ditto
1 fresh green chilli, seeded and chopped
1-2 dried red chillies, chopped
150g natural yoghurt
1 teasp black cumin seeds
3 teasps ground coriander
1 teasp garam masala
1 teasp turmeric
freshly ground black pepper
1 teasp salt
2 tbsps white poppy seeds, ground
1 kg leg of lamb in 1” cubes
2 tbsps blanched almonds, ground
2 tbsps fresh coriander leaves chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
30g unsalted pistachio nuts, chopped
Melt half the ghee over a medium heat and fry the onions, ginger, garlic and fresh chilli until the onions are just soft. Remove, cool a little and then blend/food process with the yoghurt to create a puree. I use a Bamix stick thing for this. Leave.
Heat the rest of the ghee over a low heat, we do not want the ghee to be too hot, and add the black cumin and then the other ground spices along with the poppy seeds. Fry for a minute or so, add the meat, increase meat to heading towards high and fry until browned, five minutes or so. Cover the pan, lower heat and let the meat cook in its own juices for fifteen minutes or so, stirring now and then.
Stir in the yoghurt and onion puree, mix well. Rinse out the container with the warm water and add this to the meat. Add the salt, bring to the boil, then simmer at very low heat until meat is tender, stirring now and then. The sauce will get thicker and require more attention towards the end of this process. If possible now leave overnight before finishing the next day thus: add the almonds and half the coriander leaves and stir uncovered for a few minutes. Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice and mix.
Garnish with the crushed/chopped pistachios and the rest of the coriander leaves. Serve. Utterly divine.