Kashmiri lamb in red chile sauce
A delicious Kashmiri lamb stew
Every once in a while I like to work outside of the box and make something for dinner that is truly new to me. I found this recipe in the Saveur September 2014 India Issue under Mirchi Qorma or Kashmiri lamb in chile sauce. The recipe originally came from the Ahdoo's hotel in Kashmir. I have reworked the recipe extensively to simplify it, reduce the heat (it was quite spicy) and make it a one-pot meal. It takes a little time and a few unusual spices, but it is incredibly delicious and worth the extra effort. Most of the time is just braising time, not active preparation time. I serve this lamb with Cilantro basmati rice and cool it off with Yogurt raita with cilantro and yellow raisins.
Kashmiri Wazwan celebration
This is one of 30 dishes that is traditionally eaten to celebrate Wazwan, a feast that harkens from the 15th century conqueror Timur, who sought to restore Genghis Khan's empire. He was brutally successful, with conquests that spanned Asia, Africa and Europe, and is said to have wiped out 5% of the world population at the time. Wazwan is still celebrated today with a variety of dishes, many of which are lamb based.
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A combination of spices and chile are essential to this dish. This is what you will need:
- Dried Kashmiri chiles or Pasilla chiles
- Red Thai or red Anaheim chile
- Green cardamom pods
- Cinnamon stick
- Kala jeera (also called Kashmiri cumin) is a staple in Indian cuisine. Although it is very different, you can substitute regular cumin if you can;t find kala jeera.
- Dried and fresh mint
- Red chile powder
- Tamarind paste or tamarind concentrate. Tamarind paste is also used in Pad Thai and in Andy Ricker's (of Pok Pok Thai restaurant) delicious Tamarind whiskey sours.
The original recipe called for lamb shoulder cut into 2" pieces as this is traditionally a lamb stew. I used lamb shoulder steaks and left them whole. After braising for two hours, the lamb is fork tender and falling off the bone, much like Osso buco. You could also make this dish with lamb shanks.
A blender or food processor is helpful when you make the red chile sauce.
A Dutch oven is great for this dish. The spices can be toasted in it and the Dutch oven's heavy bottom and even heating insure a great outcome with no burning. See my recommendations for two different Dutch ovens in my recent Valentine's Day gift ideas post.
A mortar and pestle provides an easy way to mash the garlic. Alternatively you can chop the garlic with a bit of salt and alternately chop, and press the salt in with the side blade of your knife. A garlic press would also do the job.
- 2 dried Kashmiri or pasilla chiles, broken
- 1 red Thai or Anaheim chile. stemmed and seeded
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 t black cumin seeds, kala jeera or regular cumin seeds
- 10 garlic cloves, mashed
- 4 lamb shoulder chops (about 2¾ pounds)
- Kosher salt
- 1 T black peppercorns
- 4 green cardamom pods
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 2 T tamarind paste or concentrate
- 4 T dried mint, divided
- 1 T red chili powder
- 1 handful fresh mint, roughly chopped
- In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pan toast dried chiles over medium high heat for 1 -2 minutes to bring out their flavor. Put the toasted chiles in a blender or food processor, along with the Thai or Anaheim chile and 1 cup of water. Puree until smooth. Set aside.
- In the same pan, over medium-high heat, toast the black cumin and bay leaves stirring so they don't burn until they release their aroma, about 1-2 minutes. Add mashed garlic and continue cooking briefly, about another minute. Stirring so the garlic doesn't burn. Remove from pan and set aside.
- In the same pan, add 2 T olive oil and heat over medium high flame. Season the lamb on all sides with kosher salt and pepper. Add to the hot oil and sear on all sides, for about 5 minutes.
- Add the blended chile mixture to the lamb, along with the peppercorns, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 1 hour.
- Add tamarind paste, 2 T dried mint and chili powder and stir to combine. Continue cooking for another hour until lamb is fork tender.
- Remove lamb from the sauce to a serving platter and keep warm. Remove the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, bay leaves and any residual bones from the sauce. Turn the heat up and reduce sauce to about ⅔ cup. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour the lamb over the sauce and garnish with remaining dried mint and fresh mint.
THIS SERVES WELL WITH