Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lamb, aubergine and cardamom curry

A few months ago I visited the spice shops in Petone and picked up lots of whole spices, including cardamom pods. Cardamom seems to be enjoying a revival at the moment and I feel like I'm constantly coming across new recipes - both savoury and sweet - that call for a few of the little green pods. Or perhaps it's just because I now have them in the pantry.

This delicious curry has a few pods thrown in but if you don't have any you could use ground cardamom. Just a little though - a quarter teaspoon or so - as you want the cardamom flavour to be subtle. It's a difficult flavour to describe - I've heard it described as "medicinal" and "camphorus" which I think sounds awful but really it's not... it's aromatic and ever-so-slightly aniseed-y and together with the other spices in this curry it's just perfect.

The curry and accompanying bean recipes are based on a recipes from last August/September's Dish magazine. I've simplified the curry, added aubergine, and used diced lamb instead of chops. I've never been a chop fan. So much work for so little meat. The original recipe is also garnished with golden brown onions - something I've never been able to make without burning and I don't really like anyway so left them out. Enjoy!

The curry
400g diced lamb
2 small aubergine, diced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
3 whole cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
1/2 cup cream

spice paste - blend in food processor to a smooth paste:
1/2 cup raw cashews
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons ginger, chopped
1 teaspoon each ground cumin, coriander, garam marsala, chilli & tumeric
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 can chopped tomatoes

to garnish...
fresh coriander
1/2 cup roasted cashews

Heat a large casserole over a medium heat and add the oil, onions and salt. Cook for about 10 minutes until the onions are soft. Add the spice paste and cook for another few minutes stirring frequently. Add the diced lamb to the pan and stir to coat in spices.

Add the cardamom, cinnamon stick, water and cream. Combine well, cover and simmer over a low heat for 1 hour. Stir from time-to-time. Uncover and add the diced aubergine. Cook for another 20-30 minutes, uncovered until the lamb and aubergine are both very tender and the sauce is nicely reduced.

Serve in bowls with rice, a scatter of fresh coriander and cashews and these colourful beans...

Green beans with coconut & chilli
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon yellow or black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seed
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 red chilli, seeded and finely sliced
400g green beans, topped, tailed & diagonally sliced
1/4 cup long thread coconut

Heat the oil is a large sauté pan over a medium to low heat. Add the onion and cook until soft - about 10 minutes. Add the spices, chilli and garlic. Cook for about five minutes, stirring. Add the coconut, beans, water and salt. Toss everything together and cook until the water has evaporated (add extra water if needed) and the beans are tender but crisp.

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