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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Lamb Korma

Seasonal Recipe of the Week
I love lamb and it’s been a while since I did a lamb recipe. The great thing about Indian lamb recipes are they are all basically stews so you don’t need to buy expensive meat, you just need to let it cook long and slow so it gets tender. But you do have to keep an eye on it, because things with cream and nuts burn easily. Lamb Korma is a sensuous curry made by simmering lamb with yogurt and cream and thickening the sauce with a cashew paste. It’s got amazing flavor. Yes, there are a lot of ingredients but good Indian food is impossible to buy in a restaurant in this town so just make it at home and have a party. Ziggy's is an excellent source of Indian ingredients, so shop there.

2 1/2 lb boneless lamb leg, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
Salt as needed
Ground white pepper as needed
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt (I like Greek yogurt)
2 tbsp minced ginger root
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp ground cardamom
12 oz cashew nuts
1/4 cup ghee (clarified butter) or canola oil
3 cups small-dice yellow onion
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground fennel
2 tbsp ground coriander
6 Thai bird chilies, the hot little red ones or Serrano chopped, or to taste
1/3 cup chopped cilantro stems
1 cup heavy cream
Salt to taste
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 cup toasted cashews

Trim the lamb and cut it into large pieces. Season with salt and pepper and put in a bowl. Add the yogurt, 1 tbsp ginger, the garlic, and cardamom. Stir or toss until the ingredients are evenly distributed and the lamb is coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours.

Put the cashews in a small bowl and add enough hot water to cover them. Let the cashews soak for 30 minutes and then drain. Grind the drained cashews to a coarse paste in a food processor. Set aside.

Heat the ghee or oil in a casserole or Dutch oven over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the onion and sauté until transparent, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the cumin, cardamom, fennel, the remaining ginger, and the coriander. Cook, stirring often until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Add the chilies, cilantro stems, and cashew paste and stir well to be sure that nothing is sticking. Sauté, stirring frequently and adding water a tablespoon at a time if necessary, until the mixture is very aromatic, about 2 minutes.

Add the lamb and the yogurt marinade, increase the heat, and stir until the pieces are evenly coated. Once the meat's juices begin to flow, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer very slowly, stirring occasionally, until the meat is nearly tender, about 1 1/2 hours.

Add the cream and continue to simmer until the curry is flavorful and thickened and the lamb is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Season to taste with additional salt, pepper, or chopped bird Chile. Serve garnished with the cilantro leaves and toasted cashews.