Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Lamb in Almond Sauce with Garam Masala

I saw this recipe in Olive magazine but ended up changing it a bit: partly by design but partly in error in that I halved some of the ingredients (namely those for the marinade) but kept the same quantities - with the exception of the double cream - for the rest of the ingredients. I realised my mistake when adding the cream so did halve the quantity stated for that. In any case, it turned out fine. Better than fine in fact, it was lovely.

I have written about garam masala before here. The Olive recipe for grinding up one’s own mix called for cassia leaves which are sometimes referred to as Indian bay leaves - something that I definitely do not have in stock, nor in fact am sure that I have ever even seen. A bit of googling suggested that cassia has a cinnamon- or clove-like flavor, totally unlike the other variety, but as I have seen bay leaves used in garam masala mixes I chose to substitute the 2 cassia leaves for 1 bay leaf and 1 little strip of cassia bark. I also added some brilliantly scarlet kashmiri chilli powder to the lamb marinade as I felt it looked a little pallid.

This is ultimately a “Royal Lamb” korma, with it’s roots in the Lucknow of the Mughal Empire - or so my readings lead me to believe anyway. Whatever, it is delicious. Serve with saffron tinged rice (which will, with any luck, make the rice yellow rather than the strange orangey pink mine ended up) to soak up the gorgeous sauce and some quickly stirfried spring greens to offset the richness.

Lamb in Almond Sauce with Garam Masala
serves 2

3 cloves garlic, chopped
25g fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
25g flaked almonds
1 onion, chopped
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp kashmiri chili powder
2 lamb shanks
1 tbsp groundnut oil
1½ tsp coriander seeds, toasted & ground
½ tsp cumin seeds, toasted & grounded
150ml double cream
200ml water

For the garam masala
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
4 green cardamom pods
2 black cardamom pods
5cm piece cinnamon stick / quill, broken up
1 tsp cloves
½ nutmeg, grated
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 bay leaf, crushed
3cm piece cassia bark, broken up

Put the garlic, ginger, almonds, onion, cayenne and chili powder in a spice grinder or food processor and whizz to a fine paste.

Add to the shanks in a bowl, ensuring the shanks are fully covered. Cover with cling and marinate in the fridge overnight.

Heat the oil in a large heavy casserole and fry the coriander & cumin powders for a minute.

Wipe the marinade off the shanks, adding to the rest of the marinade in the bowl and brown the shanks all over, one by one in the casserole. Set aside on a plate.

Add the marinade to the casserole and fry until fragrant and quite dry. This will probably take about 10 minutes.

Add the water and a pinch of salt, simmer for a few minutes and then add the cream.

Put the shanks back in the casserole, bring to a simmer and then put a lid on and cook on a low heat for 1½ hours. Give it a stir occasionally to ensure that it is not catching on the bottom.

Meanwhile, make your garam masala. Add all the spices to a small dry frying pan and toast until fragrant. Put all the spices in a spice grinder and grind.

When the shanks are done, lift them out onto a plate to keep warm.

Bring the sauce to a boil and stir continuously for about 10-15 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Stir in 2 heaped tsp garam masala.

Serve the lamb shanks alongside some rice and greens and spoon the sauce over them.

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