OK, so even I’m getting over BBQ food at the moment. And salads, lovely as they are in the garden with a glass of something cold are getting a bit tiresome.
It’s a bit weird that I don’t see curry as a summer food as the Indians eat this in far warmer climes than these, but maybe it’s just me. So, fight fire with fire I say and with my added side-quest to get my wife to enjoy a lamb dish this a pretty risky proposition.
I’ve managed to establish that Helen’s dislike of lamb is down to the ‘lambiness’ of some dishes. Now this is a major breakthrough. We recently went to a brilliant Persian supper club meal with friends (more on this in a later post) and she thoroughly enjoyed the slow cooked lamb. I think I’ve deduced therefore that whilst the Sunday roast will never be an option, maybe this type of dish will, having had most of the fat rendered out.
So, I bought a couple of lamb shanks, classic slow cooking cuts, from a local butcher. Otherwise, I didn’t need to look far for inspiration as I’ve been meaning to make a dish I found on an app I have for Hyderabadi Shanks by Alfred Prasad on the Great British Chefs website. A great website by the way and well worth a browse.
I made a few minor tweaks for our own tastes/available ingredients but otherwise tried to stay faithful to the recipe. I slow cooked the shanks for about 3 hours and then left them to rest overnight before finishing the curry the next evening.
To accompany this, some homemade naan breads. Simple in theory, these are fairly difficult to do in domestic ovens, as the lovely light airy versions you find in restaurants are made using a super-hot tandoori oven. I improvised using a pizza stone in the oven at full whack – a respectable 275°C (530°F). The results were pretty good to be fair.
The recipes make about 5 (or more depending on size) but freeze well for later on.
For the curry:
- Two lamb shanks
- 4 tbsp oil
- 1 1/2 onions, thinly sliced
- 6 garlic cloves and a large piece of ginger
- 6 cloves
- 4 cardamon pods
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 tbsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp hot chilli powder
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tbsp ground coriander
- 4 tbsp yoghurt
- 3 ripe tomatoes, diced
- Chicken stock – about 500ml (enough to cover the lamb) or water if not.
- 1 tbsp garam masala and a good handful of chopped coriander stems/leaf to finish.
- 1 threaded carrot to serve.
For the naan breads (makes 4-5 large)
- 500g strong bread flour
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 sachet of dried instant yeast
- 200ml milk
- 100ml yoghurt (about 4 tbsp)
- Melted butter to finish, if you like.
I used dried coriander and cumin and so dry roasted them first in the hot pan and ground them in a spice mill. Set aside.
Make a paste out of the garlic and ginger by blending them with a little water (or a good old fashioned pestle and mortar)
Add the oil to a large oven proof pan and fry the cardamon, mustard seed, onion, and cloves for a couple of minutes. Push to one side and add the lamb shanks to brown well, with a good pinch of salt.
Add the ginger/garlic paste and stir to coat. Then the rest of the spices – the chilli powder, coriander, cumin and cinnamon. Continue to fry for a couple of minutes – it smells amazing.
Add the yoghurt and tomatoes and simmer in the oil for a few minutes more then cover the lamb with the chicken stock.
Simmer on the hob on the lowest heat setting, or in the oven at 140°C/280°F for 3 hours. Rest over night if you can, but it’s not necessary.
When ready to cook, remove the lamb from the sauce and set aside in a roasting pan. I covered it with foil and used my smaller oven to warm (only 100°C/210°F)
Pour off any unwanted oil (there was quite a lot) and blend the sauce until smooth. I used a stick blender for less washing up ;)
Simmer gently until thickened. Once done, turn off the heat and once stopped simmering stir in the garam masala and coriander stems/leaves.
Meanwhile, make the naan dough by combining everything and kneading until smooth and stretchy. I used the dough hook on my mixer – a Godsend – but keep an eye on it or it can be over kneaded. I used the stretch test after 5 minutes and it was done.
Leave to rise once until double the size somewhere warm and get the oven ready. I got the pizza stone in the middle of the oven and set it to max. Flatten and portion the dough and roll out to a tear-drop shape, brush with oil and when the oven is ready, place it straight onto the stone. It bubbles up really quickly and can burn so watch it carefully! Brush with the butter once done if you are using it. Cook them all whilst the oven is on and freeze the excess for another day.
Plate up the lamb shanks and pour over the sauce generously. Finish with the carrot, a naan bread and a Cobra beer.