This recipe details how to pre-cook a batch of lamb leg or shoulder to be used subsequently in curries. It produces about five portions as well as a superb lamb stock. If cooked and stored properly, the lamb remains tender.
The recipe can be simply scaled up (or down) as desired, and you can substitute lamb with beef, mutton, or even goat.
- 1Kg Lamb Leg or Shoulder (boneless weight, chopped in 3-4cm pieces) and any bones going spare
- 125-150ml Oil (Vegetable/Sunflower, etc.)
- 1 Star Anise
- 10cm Cassia Bark
- 2 large Asian Bay Leaves. (Optional. You can use European bay leaves instead)
- 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
- 1 Black Cardamom, split open (optional)
- 150-175g Onion, very finely chopped or puréed (about 2 medium Onions)
- 1½ TBSP Ginger/Garlic Paste
- 2 TBSP Mix Powder
- 2 tsp Curry Powder (e.g. Mild Madras)
- 1 TBSP Paprika
- 1-1½ tsp Salt
- 3 TBSP Tomato Purée (double concentrated) + a splash of water
- 1½ tsp Kasuri Methi
- Ensure that the lamb is deboned, trimmed of excess sinew/fat, and chopped into 3-4 cm pieces (a good butcher will gladly do this for you). Ask to keep the spare bones.
- In a large pan (preferably metal) heat up the oil on medium high heat.
- Throw in the star anise, cassia, Asian bay, cumin seeds, and the optional black cardamom.
- Fry for 45-60 seconds to infuse the oil, stirring diligently.
- Add the onion and fry for a couple of minutes until soft and translucent but not browned. Stir frequently.
- Add the ginger/garlic paste and continue to fry until the sizzling subsides, stirring frequently.
- Now add the mix powder, curry powder, paprika, and salt. Cook for 30-45 seconds to allow the powdered spices to cook through, stirring constantly.
- Next, add the tomato purée, methi, and a little water to loosen the mixture. Stir for a further minute.
- Add the lamb, coat well, and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until the meat is sealed and well coated with the sauce.
- Add 600-750ml water to cover the meat, and add any spare lamb bones you have. The bones will give a great flavour to the liquid.
- Bring back up to a simmer, cover loosely, turn heat to low, and leave to simmer gently for 1 hour, stirring a couple of times.
- After 1 hour test the lamb for tenderness. If it’s still firm and rubbery, cook for a further 15 minutes then retest and repeat if necessary.
- Remove the lamb meat (not the bones) from the pan into a container, and coat well with the sauce, which helps it stay moist and adds additional flavour. The pre-cooked lamb is now ready to use in curries. Discard the whole spices.
- If not using imminently, allow to cool, cover, and refrigerate. It will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge.
- Alternatively, to freeze, empty into airtight freezer bags in individual portion sizes, making sure to use plenty of the extra sauce to coat the lamb generously. Use within 3 months.
- KEEP THE REMAINING LIQUID. It will make a delicious stock which adds even more flavour to curries. Continue simmering with the lid off for a further 1-2 hours, adding extra water as required. At the end the stock should have thickened somewhat, and when cool should have a gelatinous quality. Store in the fridge for a few days or freeze in ice cube trays.
- Always keep raw meat away from other ingredients, and thoroughly clean everything that has been in contact with it.
- At the end of cooking the ‘seasoned’ oil can be salvaged with a spoon from the top of the liquid, and is ideal for starting to cook meat curries with.
- All spoon measurements are level, i.e. 1 tsp=5 ml, 1 TBSP=15ml.