Sunday, April 26, 2015

Grilled Lamb Chops with Mustard and Soy Sauce

Three for three... It's lamb again. A house favorite, grilled lamb chops always resound at our table. They marinate in readily available ingredients. The longer they stay marinated, the better they taste. And they grill up in a jiffy!! Though you do have to plan a few days ahead if you want to make these boldly flavored, succulent lamb pops.

The marinade is easy as pie. I use spicy brown mustard and whole grain mustard.  Springs of thyme are divested of their mini leaves and added to the mix. Bottled garlic paste is conveniently handy. Soy sauce gives the meat an umami flavor. The chops have been marinated over a series of times, ranging from four hours to three days. I find the longer marination works the best. Do your thing. Find your road. Lamb is most forgiving. And terrifically tasty too.

Serves 4

12-16 Lamb Chops
3 tablespoons Spicy Brown Mustard
2 tablespoons Whole Grain Mustard
2 tablespoons fresh Thyme
3 tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 tablespoons Garlic Paste
A pinch of Chile Flakes
1-2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
1 tablespoon ground Black Pepper
2 tablespoons Olive oil

Wash and pat dry lamb chops.

Whisk together both mustards, thyme, soy sauce, garlic paste, chile flakes, salt, pepper and olive oil in a glass dish. 

Add lamb chops to marinade and stir so chops get well coated with marinade.

Cover and refrigerate for anywhere from four hours to three days. 

Bring chops to room temperature before cooking.

OUTDOOR GRILLING:  Heat grill. Grill chops for 2 minutes on each side. 

STOVETOP GRILLING:  Heat a ridged grill pan or griddle till smoking hot.  Grill chops 3-4 minutes on each side.

Eat them hot off the grill or at room temperature. Both options are delicious.

Lamb chops splutter and sizzle in a grill pan. Shishito peppers do the same side by side. A milder side of sweet potatoes rounds out our meal. A bite of spicy Shishitos, a nibble of peppery lamb and a slice of mellow sweet potatoes makes one fiery but happy mouthful! 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Malabari Lamb

I continue in a meaty here is another meaty missive. Lamb shoulder imbibes most curry spices well. Short of a weekly trip to the halal butcher and paying big bucks, this is my local choice. I hack away at a shoulder slab with round bones. The latter will be up for grabs when the curry is table side. 

This adapted recipe comes from a small book on the food of the Malabar Muslims. The beauty of the recipe is the ease with which you can put it together. The holy Indian quartet of onions, ginger, garlic and tomatoes is the perfect base for gravy. Meat is gently cooked in a pressure cooker. I do like this time-saving method. You could very easily do a long braise stove top. A sprinkle of garam masala, lime and sugar and dinner is served.

Serves 3-4

1 1/2 pounds Lamb shoulder, cut into small chunks or Lamb stew 
2-3 Green Chiles
1 cup Cilantro 
1 teaspoon Fennel seeds
2 tablespoons Coriander seeds
1 tablespoon Ginger paste
1 teaspoon Garlic paste
3 tablespoons Canola oil
2 big Onions
1/2 teaspoon Chile powder
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
1 large Tomato
1/4 cup Cilantro
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1-2 teaspoon Garam Masala
1 teaspoon Sugar
Juice of 1/2 a Lime

Wash and dry lamb.

Whiz green chiles and 1 cup of cilantro in a blender with a little water to a smooth paste.

Grind fennel and coriander seeds in a coffee grinder into a fine powder.

Peel and thinly slice onions. 

Chop tomato into small chunks.

Heat canola oil in pressure cooker.

Add sliced onions and fry till golden brown.

Add green chile paste, chile powder, turmeric, ginger and garlic paste and sauté well for a few minutes.

Add lamb and fry in masala for 5 minutes till browned.

Put tomato, cilantro and salt into masala and fry for a few minutes.

Add enough water to barely cover lamb, close the lid and pressure cook for 15 minutes. Or cook the lamb stove top covered. Check meat and water from time to time so it doesn't burn.

Let meat cool, remove lid and place cooker back on flame to let gravy thicken.

Sprinkle garam masala, sugar and lime juice over meat and thicken gravy for 10-15 minutes. 

Serve lamb with roti or rice.

Methinks this is a popular curry. We fight over marrow bones. The meat is tender, the gravy is thick. It's goes perfectly well with hot phulkas. I blink and it's gone! 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Tabak Maas or Kashmiri Lamb Ribs

Hefty lamb ribs beckon when I open the freezer. These huge pieces of meat are a challenge to cook up. And I'm always up for that! I figure I will braise them first as they look kind of chewy. The pressure cooker will work it's wonder and I can move on to easier tasks. And as the cooker hisses and spurts, I go about doing mundane kitchen chores. 

The ribs are cooked in a liquid comprising of milk, water, garlic and fresh cilantro. Everything is added to the pot along with a few spices and off goes the whistle. Once done, I pull the ribs out of the cooking liquid and shallow fry them in some ghee. Yes...ghee. It gives the lamb a crusty flavor unlike any other, so do use some. Not a huge amount but a few teaspoons, enough to coat the bottom of the pan and brown the lamb. The resulting aroma permeates and becomes the olfactory dinner gong!

Serves 2-3

2-3 pounds Lamb Ribs (whole not cut into riblets)
1/2 cup 2% Milk
2 tablespoons Garlic paste
3/4 cup Cilantro
1/4 teaspoon Turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon Chile powder
1/4 teaspoon Cardamom powder
1 tablespoon Fennel seed powder
1 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
1 heaped teaspoon Kosher Salt
1-2 cups Water
2 teaspoons Ghee or Clarified Butter

Wash and dry lamb ribs. Place ribs in a pressure cooker or large saucepan. Chop ribs into 3 rib portions if the racks do not fit in the containers.

Puree milk, garlic paste and cilantro till well blended.  Pour over ribs.

Sprinkle turmeric, chile, cardamom, fennel, black pepper powders and salt over ribs. Stir to mix.

Pour enough water so the ribs are barely covered with liquid. 

Set pressure cooker over a high flame and cook till ribs are done, about 20 minutes. If you are cooking them in a saucepan, place pan in a 375F oven and braise for 1 1/2 hours.

When cool, remove from liquid and keep aside.

Heat ghee in a nonstick pan and add ribs meat side down. Fry till crusty a few minutes on each side and serve them hot. 


The ribs could be cooked both ways easily. Just make sure you can pierce them easily with a knife before you fry them.

The liquid could be cooked down till thick and used as an accompanying sauce, or as a base for another curry which is what I am planning to do.

Lamb chops can be cooked the same way with great success.

We eat like Neanderthals, gnawing at on big bones! Fingers make the best utensils and prehistoric manners make for really tasty ribs.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Chicken Tikka Masala

Britain's favorite dish isn't mine. But I persevere. I play around with spices. Sometimes it works and other times my capricious mood doesn't quite make it. This time the gravy takes on a shade of orange red. Maybe it's because I puree the tomatoes before they become pulp. The color looks good to me. My last effort resulted in a greenish gravy. And the time before that I made a delicious brown version. So much for color coordination. 

I always start with the basic Indian quartet of onions, ginger, garlic and tomatoes. The four meld together to make a thick gravy. It goes like this..brown onions till golden, drop in chopped ginger garlic and lastly saute the three with chopped tomatoes. Every time! Then come the additions. Finely chopped spinach, cilantro or fenugreek leaves. All the above gets whirled in a blender. This thick puree is then diluted with cream and milk. Pan fried or grilled chicken pieces (tikka) are added to this rich gravy and have chicken tikka masala. 

Serves 4

1 pound boneless skinless Chicken Thighs 
1/2 teaspoon Chile powder
1/2 teaspoon Cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon Garam masala 
1 teaspoon Garlic paste
1/2 teaspoon Ginger paste 
1/4 cup Yogurt
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt 
4 tablespoons Canola oil
2 big Onions
1 teaspoon Garlic paste
1 teaspoon Ginger paste
2 Tomatoes 
1 teaspoon Chile powder 
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric 
1 teaspoon Coriander powder
1 teaspoon Garam masala 
1/2 cup Cilantro 
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt 
1/2 cup Cream
1/2 cup Milk

Wash, dry and trim chicken thighs of all visible fat. 

Marinate thighs in chile powder, cumin powder, garam masala, garlic and ginger paste, yogurt and salt. Massage thighs in this marinade so all pieces are well seasoned. Marinate for 4-5 hours or overnight for best flavor. Bring to room temperature before cooking.

Heat 2 tablespoons of Canola oil in a nonstick pan.

Add chicken thighs and pan fry pieces till they are golden brown. You might have to do this in two batches. Once the chicken has cooled, chop thighs into 1 inch pieces and keep aside.

Chop onions into small dice.

Chop tomatoes into small dice.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven. 

Add onion and saute till golden brown. 

Add garlic and ginger paste and stir for a minute.

The tomatoes, spices, seasonings and cilantro are added at this point. Let them saute and turn to mush.

Spoon the onion tomato mix into a blender. Puree till somewhat smooth. You might have to add a little water to facilitate blending.

Return puree to Dutch oven and saute over a low flame for a few minutes.

Add cream and milk and let gravy simmer over low flame for a few minutes.

Add chicken pieces to gravy and let them simmer for 10 minutes.

Serve chicken tikka masala with roti or rice.

Red orange works well. At least for today. Then again all those other shades taste delicious too!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Spiced Rack of Lamb

Spring and lamb go hand in glove. I make a spice coated rack of lamb that is a sure fire hit. Easy to put together, chockful of goodness, it makes for an aha moment when brought to the table. Rack of lamb is easily found at most grocery stores. A bit on the pricey side, this is a special day entree, a splurge to accomodate the occasion.

I unwrap two racks, pat them dry and set about making the marinade. I convert a shawarma recipe by Ottolenghi. Spices are roasted and powdered, perfuming the kitchen. Dry and wet ingredients are finely ground and massaged into the lamb. As I do this, the heady aroma of fresh ground spices and herbs intoxicates, leading to the realization that this is going to one damn good roasted rack.

Serves 4-6

2 Racks of Lamb
2 tablespoons Black Peppercorns 
4 Cloves 
1/4 Fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon Cumin seeds 
1 Star anise
1/2 teaspoon  Cardamon powder
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg powder
1/2 teaspoon Cinammon powder 
2 tablespoons Paprika 
1 teaspoon Sumac
2 tablespoons Kosher Salt 
1 teaspoon Ginger paste
1 teaspoon Garlic paste 
1/2 cup Cilantro, cut finely
1/2 cup Lemon juice

Put peppercorns, cloves, fenugreek, cumin and star anise in a cast-iron pan and dry roast over medium heat for 2 minutes. Remove to a spice grinder and process till fine powder.

Mix powdered spices with cardamon, nutmeg, cinammon, paprika, sumac, salt, ginger, garlic, cilantro and lemon juice. Mix well.

Wash and dry racks.

Massage spice paste into lamb and marinate for a minimum of  4 hours or overnight for best results. Bring to room temperature before roasting.

Heat oven to 400F.

Place racks on a foil lined baking sheet.

Roast 25 minutes for medium rare and 35 minutes for well done meat.

Remove from oven and let meat rest for 5 minutes.

Slice rack into individual chops and serve.

Oohs and ahhs seem obligatory when I bring out a heaped plate of chops. We eat with gusto and give much praise to Ottolenghi for yet another stellar recipe!