Tuesday 9 January 2007

Lamb Meatball Curry, without cheating

Now that I've got my blender, making curry pastes is ridiculously easy, so I've gone back to what is becoming a favourite curry of mine, only this time, making the required paste myself (especially after getting grief more than once about cheating on the paste). This recipe originally came from a friend's wife, Sandra, then modified slightly when I couldn't remember everything and had to look up a similar recipe on the web. Since then, the guys in my local shop have added their input, so it is getting a little different each time.

This time, I made the meatballs on the day as I was hoping to get a bit more daylight to get a good photo, but it's extremely gloomy out today, so I don't think it made any difference.

Recipe for the Meatballs (Serves 4)
  • 454g/1lb Minced Lamb (or Beef, but I think Lamb is better)
  • Half a Small Onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Green Chillies, de-seeded and de-veined, finely chopped
  • 1.5 tablespoons Ground Coriander
  • 1 tablespoon Ground Cumin
  • Half teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 3 tablespoons Fresh Coriander, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Minced Ginger (OK, maybe that's cheating, but I got some which needed using, and I don't have a grater to use fresh stuff for this part of the recipe)
  • 3-4 Cloves of Garlic, crushed
  • 1 Egg (optional), lightly beaten

Mix all the above ingredients together by hand, kneading the mixture until all of them are evenly distributed. Then with moist hands, form into individual meatballs. You should get around 20-24, depending on how big you make them. Arrange on a plate, then cover and put in the fridge for at least 4 hours, but ideally, make them the night before you intend making the curry.

Recipe for the Paste
  • 2 inch piece of Root Ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cloves of Garlic, chopped
  • 2 Red Chillies, de-seeded and de-veined (Hot Green Chili would be better, but I ran out)
  • 1 tablespoon Ground Coriander
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 3 tablespoons Water
To make the paste, just put all the above ingredients into your blender and blend until you have a smooth paste.

Recipe for the Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Coriander Seeds, crushed
  • 6 Green Cardamom Pods, 2 crushed
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
  • 4 Whole Cloves
  • 3" Piece of Cassia Bark (should be cinnamon stick, but this is the closest I could find)
  • 2.5 Medium Onions, chopped
  • 1 Green or Red Pepper, chopped
  • Half teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 can Chopped Tomatoes
  • 5 tablespoons Plain Yoghurt
  • 3 or 4 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Half teaspoon Salt
  • Half teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Next heat up your oil in a heavy pan, and when hot, add the cardamom, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cloves, and cassia bark and give a quick stir. Add the onions and green pepper to the pan and fry for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are brown. Lower the heat and add the paste and stir into the mixture for a couple of minutes. Next add the tomatoes and cayenne pepper and cook until they start to darken.

Stir in the yoghurt, making sure each tablespoon is mixed in before adding the next. Then stir in a couple of mugs of water. The mixture will be fairly thin, but I tend to cook it for a couple of hours and allow for a fair amount of evaporation which is how Sandra reckoned it works best.

Now it's time to put the meatballs in. Last time, I put a layer of cubed potato at the bottom of the pan so that there was no chance of them sticking to the bottom, although I don't think it's really necessary, although Sandra had suggested having potato in there anyway, but it's definitely optional. Carefully drop the meatballs in, one at a time in what should be one layer across the pan. Bear in mind, you wont be able to stir the curry for a good 30-40 minutes without risking breaking up your meatballs, so you need to avoid stirring and just gently shake the pan to move stuff about during cooking where possible. Later you can get away with it, but still do it careful so as not to break any.

This needs to simmer, covered, for an hour at least, but up to 2 hours is fine if you want your sauce to thicken up more. Personally, I like to cook it for at least 2 hours. After the first 10-20 minutes, your meatballs should float to the top so that you don't have to worry about them sticking to the bottom, unless your sauce completely evaporates. The following image shows how much I like my curry to evaporate before getting the rice on.

Either mix in some chopped fresh coriander right at the end, or use as a garnish and serve the curry with Basmati Rice. Tonight, I just plucked a leaf or three and stuck it on top for the garnish. At the very least it kept their eyes off the state of the rest of the flat.

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