Royal Lamb Chops Braised With Nuts and Saffron

Course : Curry
Serves: 2
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4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup slivered pistachios
6 large garlic cloves
1 piece one-inch piece fresh ginger
1 teaspoon coriander
5 whole green cardamom pods -- husked
1 medium fresh hot green chile
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
5 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon royal cumin -- or regular seeds -- (see note)
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1/4 cup water
3 chops lamb rib chops -- 4 ounces trimmed of all fat
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads -- dissolved
2 tablespoons hot water
1 teaspoon salt -- (optional)
1/2 cup peas -- fresh or frozen
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced

Preparation / Directions:

This elegant entree is a specialty of Rajasthan, home of the Rajput warriors. Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a heavy pan over medium-high heat. Add almonds and pistachios; cook, stirring, until light brown, about 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Combine the garlic, ginger, coriander, cardamom, chile, peppercorns, cloves, cumin, mace and water in a blender and blend to form a smooth paste. Arrange lamb in a large shallow dish. Rub the spice mixture over both sides of lamb. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add lamb and brown well on both sides. Add 1/4 cup of the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add remaining water; sprinkle in saffron. Cover and cook until lamb is tender, about 10 minutes. Taste, and add salt, if needed. Stir in peas and cook 5 minutes longer. Sauce should be very thick. Transfer lamb to a heated platter. Stir sauce and pour over lamb. Top with fried nuts and cilantro. Note: Royal cumin (black cumin) or shahi jeera gets its name from the royal Moghul dishes it was most used in. It is available at Indian markets. Source: Laxmi Hiremath writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, 6/24/02.

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