Dishoom's Lamb Pepper Fry recipe

Dishoom lamb pepper fry curry
Update

I made this recipe again and milled 10g of black peppercorns in my Nutribullet, which came to just over 4 teaspoons. I started by adding 1 teaspoon to the curry and it was more than enough. I like black pepper but for me, 10g would make this lovely dish inedible. By all means use the full amount but I would add it a bit at a time, tasting as you go. 

A friend recently asked me if I’m still enjoying the Dishoom cookbook. I most definitely am but I don’t consider it to be an everyday cookbook. Some of the ingredients are a bit obscure (I couldn’t find long pepper powder for this recipe) and there are often a lot of steps to follow. Something that has sped up the prep time considerably is making garlic and ginger pastes. I should have listened to the book and done this ages ago as it cuts down on a lot of peeling and chopping. 

As with Gunpowder Potatoes, once you’ve made the spice masala, cooking this dish the second time around is much quicker. Even if you’re starting completely from scratch, know that this dish is extraordinary and absolutely worth the effort. It’s not even a huge effort really, but it’s not an onions-spices-tomatoes-and-you’re-done kind of curry. You need to marinate the lamb, heat and grind the spices, babysit the onions and simmer the sauce for several hours. 

I used a lot less pepper than the specified 13g (3g long pepper, 10g black pepper) because: 

  • My local Indian grocer doesn’t stock long pepper powder (it’s the first time ever I haven’t been able to get an ingredient from them)
  • I ground the black pepper from a mill - definitely the slow way to go about it - and after five minutes I had quite a lot of pepper but it barely weighed 1 gram.

I know the dish is called Lamb Pepper Fry but I chickened out with the pepper and it still tasted divine. 

★ ★ ★

The recipe in the book recommends serving this curry with parathas and casually mentions that frozen parathas can be purchased at a good Indian grocer. My local in Norwich stocks all kinds including flavours like garlic, onion and aloo gobi. Parathas are my favourite of all the Indian breads and now there are multiple stacks of portioned, rolled out paratha dough sitting in my freezer, waiting for a dry, hot pan to transform them into light, flaky delicious bread in less than five minutes. This was life changing information for me so I felt it important to share.

Notes

I’ve included the instructions to make garlic and ginger pastes. As long as you use fresh garlic and ginger and store the pastes in sterilised jars, covered with a layer of oil, they’ll keep in the fridge for 10 days.

I don’t bother washing my food processor between making the pastes. I start with garlic and once I’ve made the paste I scrape it out of the bowl using a silicone spoon, give the blade a quick rinse, then carry on with the ginger paste. Generally whenever I cook with ginger I’ll also use garlic so I don't mind if the ginger paste is slightly contaminated but I like the garlic paste to be 100% garlic as I use it for other cuisines.

Recipe credit

Dishoom: From Bombay with Love (affiliate link)

Ingredients

Serves: 4

Garlic paste

  • 3 garlic bulbs, peeled
  • 25ml vegetable oil (plus extra to store)

Ginger paste

  • 180g fresh root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 25ml vegetable oil (plus extra to store)

Lamb

  • 500g lamb leg steaks (or boneless mutton, cut into 4cm cubes)

Marinade

  • 20g ginger paste (see above)
  • 20g garlic paste (see above)
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt

Spice masala (makes around 30g)

  • 3 dried red chillies
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 18g coriander seeds
  • 10g black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 clove
  • 4 fresh curry leaves

Curry

  • 60ml vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 8 fresh curry leaves
  • 3 dried red chillies
  • 200g red onions, diced
  • 15g ginger paste (see above)
  • 15g garlic paste (see above)
  • 1 tsp deggi mirch chilli powder
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt (the book says 1½ tsp but 1 is enough for me)
  • 3g long pepper powder
  • 10g freshly ground black pepper (or less, see update)
  • 15g spice masala (see above)
  • 200g chopped tomatoes (tinned or fresh)
  • 2 tsp coriander leaves, chopped

To serve

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 12 fresh curry leaves
  • naan or parathas
  • small handful coriander leaves
  • lemon wedges

Method

  1. Garlic paste: Remove the skin from 3 bulbs of garlic (I use the shake trick) and use a mini food processor or blender to blitz the cloves and 25ml of vegetable oil to a smooth paste. Add 2-3 teaspoons of water if the paste looks too thick. Store in a sterilised jar and cover with a thin layer of vegetable oil.
  2. Ginger paste: Repeat step 1 but replace the garlic with 180g of peeled and roughly chopped ginger.
  3. Marinade: Add 20g of ginger paste, 20g of garlic paste, 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon of salt to a large bowl. Add 500g of cubed lamb leg steaks, mix well, cover and marinate for 2 hours in the fridge. If possible, remove the lamb from the fridge half an hour before you need it.
  4. Spice masala: Add 3 dried red chillies, 1 small cinnamon stick, 18g of coriander seeds, 10g of black peppercorns, 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds, 1 clove and 4 fresh curry leaves into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and place over a medium heat so the spices warm up slowly with the pan. Toast for 1-2 minutes and when you start to smell the spices, tip them onto a plate to cool completely. Grind to a fine powder (I use my Nutribullet for this as my pestle and mortar are too small).
  5. Curry: Place a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat (I use the pan I toasted the spices in) and add 60ml of vegetable oil. Once the oil has heated up, add ½ teaspoon of mustard seeds, 8 curry leaves and 3 dried chillies. Once the mustard seeds start to pop, add 200g of diced red onions and fry for around 25 minutes until dark brown, stirring frequently so the onions don’t burn.
  6. Add 15g each of ginger and garlic paste to the saucepan and fry for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn’t burn.
  7. Once the garlic has turned light brown, add 1 teaspoon of deggi mirch chilli powder, ½ teaspoon of ground turmeric, 1 teaspoon of salt, 3g of long pepper powder, 1-2g of freshly ground black pepper (it's supposed to be 10g in total so add to suit your taste) and 15g of the spice masala to the saucepan (keep the remaining spice masala in an airtight jar to use another time). Fry for 2 minutes then add 50ml of water and stir to create a paste. Turn the heat under the saucepan down to low and fry for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the oil separates from the spices.
  8. Add 200g of chopped tomatoes to the saucepan, turn the heat back up to medium and cook for 20-25 minutes, adding a little water if the curry starts to look dry. The tomatoes should disintegrate and deepen in colour.
  9. Add the marinated lamb and 200ml of water to the saucepan. Once the curry starts to bubble, simmer gently for 2 hours, occasionally topping up with a little water if needed. After 2 hours the lamb should be tender but not falling apart.
  10. Once the curry is nearly ready, add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to a small frying pan and place over a medium heat. Add 12 curry leaves and fry for a minute or so until crisp.
  11. Stir 2 teaspoons of chopped coriander through the curry, divide it into 4 bowls and top with the fried curry leaves. Serve with a side of parathas or naan, more coriander and lemon wedges to squeeze over the sauce.

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