What is it about curry that everyone likes? I think it's because there is something for everyone. It can be hot, sweet, sour, buttery, delicate, in your face, made with chicken, lamb, beef, fish or vegetables (surely not on their own though). Add in the range of accompaniments like pilau, peshwari, keema, roti and chapati and you have an extremely wide range of flavours, textures and tastes to chose from.
That's before even mentioning the tandoor oven the best way to cook meat-period.
Personally I like curry to be the in your face type with layers of flavours, like a Balti with Vindaloo heat. I have probably been making this curry for around 8 years and I have been told that it always tastes exactly the same which is surprising considering the list of ingredients.
Making this curry is not something to be rushed as it needs time to develop its flavour and for the lamb to braise long enough to tenderise. Allow for around 2 hours.
20 mins prep
1hr 30 cooking
10 mins rest
- Shoulder of lamb diced into large chunks
- 2 extra large onions
- 2/3 birds eye-chillies
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 1.5 tins of coconut milk
- Match box size creamed coconut
- 1.5 tins of peeled plum tomatoes
- 2 table spoons of ghee
- 2 table spoons Lemon juice
- 2 table spoons tomato purée
- 2 table spoon vinegar
- 1 tea spoon Demerara sugar
- 2 tea spoons sea salt
- 2 chicken stock cubes
- Fresh coriander
- Garam Masala 1 table spoon
- Cumin 1 tea spoon
- Ground Coriander 1 tea spoon
- Tandoori Masala 1 table spoon
- Smoked paprika 1 tea spoon
- Hot chilli powder 1 table spoon
- Black cardamom 4 seeds
- Turmeric 2 tea spoons
- Bay leaf 2
- Saffron pinch
I believe that the key to a good curry is having depth of flavours by creating layers. I know that sounds like something Michel Roux would say but it's simple to achieve. Start by blending the onions to a pulp and place in a large sauce pan with the ghee. The cooking of the onions is the first layer of flavour and how much they are cooked will affect the outcome of the curry. The more they are cooked the richer the curry will be. So for this you need to cook them until they are a darkish brown which will probably take around 10 minutes on medium heat. The next step is to add your crushed garlic and chopped chillies and cook for a further 3 minutes, this is your base for the curry.
Next turn the temp to low and make a space in the pan for the spices to fry. Throw them all in (apart from the saffron and bay) along with another table spoon of ghee and just let the spices to gently fry before mixing with the onions. This is your second layer of flavour.
Now on to the lamb which the third and most important layer of flavour! Shoulder is my favourite cut for this as it has excellent fat content and braises down to a delicious sticky tender finish. Dice into large chunks and throw into a smoking hot frying pan (Better still seal the meat on a searing hot bbq for 2 minutes per side but if it isn't possible a cast iron pan is good) until well browned. Transfer to the sauce pan along with the spiced onions.
Now it's time to make the dish look like a curry and add the last layer of flavour. Add the tomato purée, tinned tomatoes, coconut cream, lemon juice, vinegar, Demerara, stock cubes, fresh coriander and the saffron and bay leaves. Mix well and bring to the boil. Once it has reached boiling temp place on the smallest hob on the lowest heat semi-covered and let it blip away and reduce. Stir every 20mins to ensure it doesn't catch.
After around 1hr the flavours should have done their thing and this is your chance to make any adjustments.
Add more salt, lemon juice, chilli or coconut depending on your preference or if your happy stick it in a pre heated oven at 170 for 20-30 mins. By now the lamb should melt in your mouth and the Raj himself would be jumping with joy!
Let it sit for 10 mins then serve with fresh coriander and what ever accompaniments you desire.