Curried Lamb Shanks and Naan Bread.

Curried Lamb Shanks

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'm slaving away. The muggy gets my chair. Hmm...

I’m slaving away. The moggy gets my chair. Hmm…

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.

Naan Breads

The recipes make about 5 (or more depending on size) but freeze well for later on.

Serves 2:

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.

Lamb shanks with spices

Add the yoghurt and tomatoes and simmer in the oil for a few minutes more then cover the lamb with the chicken stock.

Curried Lamb Shanks

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.

Naan Breads

Plate up the lamb shanks and pour over the sauce generously. Finish with the carrot, a naan bread and a Cobra beer.

Curried Lamb Shank

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Curried Roast Parsnip Soup with Cumin Flavoured Croutons

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A quick post tonight as my team is playing!

Pescatarian January is going well – in fact today was completely meat free, fish or otherwise. As a dedicated carnivore, it felt at first like the meals I made were ‘incomplete’, like it was missing the main attraction. I’ve since found that to be nonsense of course and although I will no doubt eat meat again, I’ll certainly not see it as the be all and end all of lunch and dinner.

I made this soup over the weekend and thought I’d drop it in (mainly because since my last post I’ve made a fish wrap that should never be seen in public and pasta, the subject of that post).

Parsnips work famously with curry spices and the croutons fried in garlic oil and cumin added welcome ‘bite’. As croutons generally are supposed to do, I guess!

Serves 2 with leftovers for work

2 tbsp oil (plus more to drizzle)
4 large parsnips
1 large onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, sliced
Vegetable stock (enough to cover)
1 heaped tbsp mild curry powder
Handful fresh coriander, finely chopped
2 Tbsp single cream (optional) to finish
Salt

A chunk of stale bread, cut into 1/2 inch or 1cm cubes
1/2 tsp cumin powder
Garlic oil

Peel and half the parsnips and place on a baking tray. Drizzle with oil, a little salt, and roast for about 40 minutes until nicely browned.

Once done, remove and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, in a large pan fry the garlic and onion until soft. Stir in the curry powder for a minute or so to release the flavour.

Chop the parsnips into large cubes and add to the pan.

Pour over enough stock to cover the vegetables and gently bring to a simmer for about 20 minutes (the parsnips are already cooked).

Take it off the heat and allow to cool for a while. Then, add the chopped coriander and blend either in the pan using a stick blender or in a separate blender (in batches if necessary).

Stir though the cream and leave to gently heat whilst you make the croutons:

Simply fry the bread cubes gently in the oil and cumin powder for a minute or two until golden brown and crunchy.

Serve in bowls with the croutons on top.

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Mutton & Spinach Madras

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No wait, come back!

Mutton is rarely used or available but is great in a slow cooked curry. I got it at the Wallington food festival from a company called Greenbrae, http://www.greenbrae.co.uk/. If you can’t get it, lamb or beef will work as a substitute.

Being a work night, I’ve taken a slight shortcut with the spices, using a shop bought madras powder instead of roasting & grinding my own.

The result was very rich so I added spinach to lighten it up. I served it with plain basmati (that’s all it needs).

2 Tbsp oil
300g of diced mutton
3 garlic cloves and 1 large chilli, finely chopped.
1 Tbsp finely chopped ginger
1 large onion, chopped
2 tbsp madras curry power
1 tsp turmeric
500ml chicken or beef stock
1 Tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp sugar (if needed)
4 handfuls of spinach
Handful Chopped coriander leaves

In a large saucepan or hob proof casserole pot, fry the mutton in half the oil with a good pinch of salt. Don’t overcrowd it or the meat will ‘boil’ rather than colour. If it does, turn up the heat and evaporate it off.

Add the onion towards the end to soften a little.

Meanwhile in a small sauce pan heat the rest of the oil and add the garlic, chilli and ginger. Fry gently for a few minutes. Add the curry power and dry fry it for a minute (it’ll soak up the oil) then add a little water to make a paste. Simmer for a bit and add to the meat. It should smell very fragrant.

Scrape the spice mix into the pot with the mutton and add the stock, the tomato purée and turmeric and simmer with the lid on gently for 30-40 mins hour then with the lid off for 20 mins to reduce and thicken. Taste and add the sugar to balance the flavours if needed (I did).

Meanwhile whilst waiting….put the spinach in a pan with a little water, put the lid on and bring to a gentle boil to wilt. Stir, strain it and squeeze it to remove the water, chop and set aside

Put the kettle on and rinse the same pan out (to cut down on the washing up!!). Add 50g rice per person and a good pinch of salt. Add enough boiled water to cover by a cm or two, put a lid on and bring back to the boil, then turn down to a simmer on it’s lowest heat for 15 mins or until all the water is absorbed.

Add the spinach to the curry at the end to warm through then the coriander leaf just before serving.