Preparation / Directions:
This Indian dish is anything but understated. It piles flavor upon flavor to stunning effect and would overwhelm milk-fed lamb. Amazingly, for something so sumptuous, it is comparatively nutritionally sound, as it has been modified to eliminate most saturated fat. However it is not for the meal-in-a-moment cook.
Cover 45 g of raisins and 30 g sultanas in boiling water. Leave to soak. Trim an 800 g boneless piece of young lamb (leg or shoulder) of all visible fat. Put the piece in a large saucepan and add 3 cups of water, a tablespoon of lemon juice and 2 bay leaves. Cover, bring to the boil, skim, and simmer very gently for about one hour or until a skewer glides into the meat with ease. Remove the meat, setting it aside, and reduce the stock over high heat to about 1/4 of a cup. Reserve the stock and wash the saucepan.
Into a processor bowl put 2 large onions quartered, 6 cloves of garlic, 5 cm ginger roughly chopped, 1/2 tablespoon ground cardamom, 2 tablespoons ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 tablespoon white poppy seeds, 45 g ground almonds and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Process to a paste. Chop finely a generous handful of fresh mint and have ready 200 g plain yogurt (low fat yogurt can be used).
Heat 2 tablespoons mono- or poly-unsaturated oil in the saucepan, add onion and spice paste and fry, stirring, for about 3 minutes or until it is fragrant. Add the mint and yogurt and simmer gently until the sauce is thick and creamy. Return the meat to the saucepan, spooning the sauce over it, cover and braise gently until the meat is heated through. Add the reserved stock to the saucepan and stir through. Continue to simmer uncovered until the stock is completely reduced. Sprinkle over the meat and sauce 2 teaspoons garam masala, 1 teaspoon chile powder and salt to taste if you regard it as necessary.
In a frying pan, heat a little oil and gently fry the drained sultanas and raisins, together with 45 g blanched slivered almonds, for about 5 minutes. Add them to the saucepan and stir. Infuse a few strands of saffron in a tablespoon of boiling water and add 1 1/2 teaspoons of rosewater. Stir this mixture into the saucepan and heat for a minute or so more.
Slice the meat, which by now should be meltingly tender, and arrange on a serving dish. Spoon the sauce over the meat. Serve with rice.
From "Raw Materials" by Meryl Constance, The Syndey Morning Herald, 10/6/92.