Sunday, August 3, 2014

One Pot Lamb Korma

This recipe is the labor less way to a lamb or mutton curry. Really. Just add all the components into a Dutch oven and let them bubble and toil by themselves. For a faster version, as I do, use a pressure cooker. The latter being a common place cooking device in most Indian kitchens, is a beast not too many people want to tackle. My first pressure cooker came as part of my trousseau, making the journey over the seven seas. The Indian versions manufactured by Prestige and Hawkins, whoosh, splutter and scare. But they are formidable. They get the job done very efficiently and don't cost an arm and a leg like Fagor. Dal cooks in 5 minutes vs 30 minutes on the stove top. Meat braises in 15 minutes, much faster than the 45 minutes in the oven. It's just a question of mustering the courage to master the bells and whistles. 

As a novice in the kitchen, I confess to many disasters involving pressure cookers. I once started the cooker, snapped on the lid and walked away without using the safety valve. Results included splattered dal on walls, ceilings and stove tops. A mistake I sadly replicated a few times. Very tough clean up. Then there was the time I left the pan on a low flame and drove to the airport. That night I had to start dinner all over again.  One time I decided to adapt a lamb recipe that called for the lamb braised in its own juices...foolishly doing the same in my PC. That resulted in scorched lamb and the rubber ring permanently fused to the lid. Today it's still stays firm...but usable all the same. I have been instructed to watch the rings, count the whistles. None of those techniques mean anything to me. I let it whoosh once, lower the flame and cook meat for 15-16 minutes. Meat turns out fork tender, succulent and cooks in a jiffy. This works everytime.

Over the years I have gone through a couple of PCs. The old ones were aluminum. The newer ones come in steel and nonstick versions. They come in many sizes too. I have a couple of small pressure pans I use for dal. The larger one makes a great curry.  An inverted PC converts into a makeshift tandoor. Trust me, it works. In India PCs are used to boil potatoes, cook rice, steam idlis. I could go on, but let me stop as I can't do any of those things. Let me stress on what I do best... Making a mean curry in the fastest time possible

Serves 2-4

2 pounds Lamb shoulder with bones
2 large Onions
2 tablespoons Garlic Paste
2 tablespoons grated Ginger
2 large Tomatoes
1/2 cup whole milk Yogurt
1 teaspoon Chile powder
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 cup Water
1 teaspoon roasted Cumin powder
1 teaspoon Garam masala
Cilantro to garnish

Wash lamb and cut into small pieces 1-1/2 inches wide. Leave some meat attached to bones. Remove as much fat as you can.

Peel and cut onion into rough chunks.

Chop tomatoes into small chunks.

Place lamb, onions, tomatoes, garlic paste, grated ginger, yogurt, chile powder and salt in a pressure cooker. Add water and mix well.

Place pressure cooker on a medium flame and bring to a vigorous boil. Affix the lid and cover the vent with safety valve. Wait till the whistle whooshes once, lower heat to the minimum and cook for 15 minutes. Let the pan cool before opening the lid. If you are in an extreme hurry, run cold water on the pan for 3-4 minutes. This works like a charm. 

ASSUMING you are not using a pressure cooker, then place all the ingredients in a Dutch oven, bring to boil, lower flame, cover with a tight fitting lid and braise stove top for 40-45 minutes or till lamb is fork tender. You will have to stir the lamb from time to time and add more water as the lamb braises.

Sprinkle cumin powder and Garam masala and let curry bubble for a few minutes.

Garnish with cilantro and serve with naan or rice.

I have dinner on the table in 20 minutes. Lamb flakes at the touch of a spoon. Onions, tomatoes and spices give the curry body and lots of flavor. I have taken the low road. Purists will scoff. I would love to indulge in a stove top braise if I had the time.  I hum and chant that time isn't on my side. I love my assorted cookers.   a confession---I am terrified of using other peoples devices. On that note I hope I haven't offended any one's PC sensibilities. I am trying to be PC!