March 14, 2010

Lamb Vindaloo--Woo Hoo!

Even though I grew up eating it at nearly every meal, I have only recently clued in to the fact that there is actually no such thing as a curry, according to The Food of India, an amazing text and cookbook that every Indian food connoisseur should have. The term comes from the Tamil word kari, meaning black pepper. Dishes are named for the amalgamation of spices used to make them (rogan josh, vindaloo), the cooking method (korma--in cream, or biryani--with rice), or for their main ingredients (saag--spinach, aloo gobi--cauliflower). Curry powder doesn't really exist in India either, with the closest thing being masala (a spice mix). There are hundreds of masala combinations, such as garam and Madras.

I grew up eating traditionally South Indian food, which is not the standard fare served in Indian restaurants. Its mostly vegetarian and includes things like dosa (rice flour crepe filled with a curried potato mixture) and idli (steamed rice cake served with a coconut or cilantro chutney). However, I have come to embrace North Indian selections such as vindaloo because of its combination of all my favorite Indian spices and its serious kick! You can make this spice mixture en masse and keep it around as a rub for just about anything (burgers, roasted chicken--you name it). But it is definitely worth slow cooking a lamb shank in some time. This was almost so good, we didn't want to eat it, for fear we'd be finished with it all too soon! Most of the ingredients can be found at your grocery store or Whole Foods, but if you live in the vicinity of a good Middle Eastern or Indian grocer, stock up on some of the exotics like cardamom pods and bay leaves. They're much cheaper for bigger quantities there.

Lamb Vindaloo

2 T coriander seed
1 T cumin seed
1/4 tsp black peppercorns
3-4 green cardamom pods
3-4 whole cloves
2 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 T turmeric
2 tsp salt
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 lbs lamb shanks, fat mostly trimmed
1 cup red wine
1 medium tomato, diced (or two roma/plum tomatoes)
1 medium Vidalia onion or other sweet onion, finely chopped
6 bay leaves
Fresh cilantro leaves

Lightly dry roast (no oil) coriander through mustard seeds over medium-high heat until fragrant (about 3 minutes). Grind these in a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder until fine. Mix with cinnamon, cayenne, turmeric, and salt. Add garlic and ginger and make a paste. Rub over lamb shanks to coat. In a large Ziploc bag or Tupperware, combine red wine, tomato, onion, and bay leaves. Place lamb in bag or Tupperware, seal, and shake to coat evenly. Marinate overnight in refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Empty contents of bag or box into oven-proof pot with lid. Cover and roast lamb shanks with curry mixture for 2-3 hours. (You can check at 2 hours and see if it's fall-off-the-bone tender; if not, leave it in for another 30 minutes to an hour). Serve over rice and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves. Serves 4.

1 comment:

The Flaky Pastry said...

To the person who tried to tell me (an actual Indian person) what Vindaloo is, here's a little something clearly YOU did not know: AND
I'll give you that aloo means potato, but "aloo" being suffix of this Hindi word for curry mixture has nothing to do with whether potatoes are in the dish. So before you attempt to comment on something you know nothing about, please realize that Google is your friend, and you certainly can't argue with Webster's. Good luck with your cooking!