Ah, korma. That sad, sad little curry that seems to exist only on restaurant menus for those that can’t or won’t eat a ‘real’ curry.
I understand how korma gets that reputation – in restaurants it is often bland and vaguely sweet. Why would you choose it when there are so many more exciting offerings?
This recipe, from Charmaine Solomon’s India and Pakistan, will ensure those kind of preconceptions are firmly put aside.
This recipe even has chillis in it so if you want it fiery, go ahead and make it fiery. The use of both nuts and yoghurt will help temper that heat anyway – and I suspect is what has led to the curry’s maligned character. Of course, you can always play it safe while cooking the curry and turn things up by adding a good dollop of hot lime pickle when you serve.
- 800g diced lamb (leg, preferably)
- 2 onions
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
- 2 large cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
- 40g raw, unsalted cashew nuts
- dried red chillis - to taste
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 green cardamom pod
- 2 cloves
- ½ tsp saffron strands
- 2 tbsp boiling water
- 20g ghee
- 125g plain yoghurt
- fresh coriander to serve
- Begin by making a curry paste.
- Roughly chop one of the onions and place in a food processor with the ginger, garlic, cashew nuts and chillis. Add 125mL water and process to a smooth paste. Add the spices (if you have ground cardamom and cloves, use ¼ tsp of each, but I used the whole spices and the flavour was fine) and process until everything well combined.
- Put the saffron in a small bowl with the boiling water and set aside.
- Heat the ghee and some oil in a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Finely slice the remaining onion and cook until soft and golden. Add the spice mixture and cook, stirring, until the oil starts to separate out.
- Add a little water and salt and cook until the liquid has evaporated and then add the lamb. Stir thoroughly to ensure the lamb is well coated with the spice mix.
- Stir through the saffron (crush the strands against the sides of the bowl as you pour it in) and then add the yoghurt.
- Ensure the heat is low, cover and leave to simmer for at least an hour - until the lamb is tender. Make sure that the mixture doesn't boil and give it a stir every now and then.
- When you're ready to serve, stir through some coriander, leaving some aside for decoration. Serve with rice (and perhaps some hot lime pickle).
On first moving to the UK I remember being amazed by the range of curries available in curry restaurants. I lived in Rochester, in Kent, and at least ten curry restaurants within walking distance of my flats. And every single one had at least one curry I hadn’t heard of before. Having (almost literally) grown up on a diet of rogan josh, vindaloo, butter chicken and raan, curries like jalfrezi, dhansak and phal seemed positively exotic.
I put in some hard yards and after serious research I had the distinctions under my belt and could negotiate my way around a menu in my sleep.
I’m pretty sure that a doh piaza was something with which I was not conversant before heading to the UK. The key thing with a doh piaza is that it’s all about the onions. Indeed, ‘doh piaza’ means ‘two onions’. As with all curries, a long slow cook is in order, so don’t try to whip this up after work. I made this on Monday for Wednesday night’s dinner. I kept aside the second batch of onions, ready to add (along with the garam masala) as the curry was heating up.
This is not a super spicy curry (I ate mine with plenty of hot lime pickle!) and it doesn’t have a scary list of spices so if you’re something of a curry novice, or don’t cook curries often, then this is a great recipe to have in your repertoire.
The basis for this recipe comes from Charmaine Solomon’s classic Complete Asian Cookbook and, perhaps less so than usual, I apologise for what is probably an uninspiring photo. But we all know curries are tough to photograph!
Charmaine Solomon’s Lamb Doh Piaza
- 700g diced lamb
- 500g onions
- 3 large cloves garlic
- chunk of fresh ginger, peeled
- ~ 30g plain yoghurt
- 1 heaped tsp chilli flakes (or substitute chilli powder - but always to taste)
- half a packet of coriander, roots included
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 4 cardamom pods
- ½ tsp garam masala
- Heat some oil and ghee in a heavy based pan that has a lid.
- Finely slice half the onions and cook until golden. Then set aside.
- While cooking the onions, roughly chop the remaining onions and put in a food processor with the garlic, chopped ginger, yoghurt, chilli, fresh and ground coriander and cumin seeds. Process until smooth.
- Once the sliced onions have been browned, add the chopped lamb to the pan and brown. You may need to do this in batches. Set the meat aside.
- Add a little more ghee to the pan and then add the onion and spice mix. Cook, stirring frequently, until it darkens in colour and oil starts to appear at the edges. Be patient.
- Return the meat to the pan, add the cardamom and stir well. Turn the heat down to low, cover and cook slowly until the lamb is tender. Allow at least a couple of hours.
- When ready to serve, stir through the sliced fried onions and garam masala. Cook for a further fifteen minutes and then serve with rice (or naan).
Every year (ish) my friends and I attempt a ‘curry season kick off’ lunch. In the past we’ve focussed on a single dish (pork vindaloo, rogan josh) but this year Andy suggested looking at a region, to allow the cooks a bit more flexibility. As some friends of ours are set to visit Japan in a month or so, my brainwave was Japanese curry.
Yes – Japanese curry is a ‘thing’ . While perhaps not the dish most representative of Japanese cuisine for those of us in the west, it is very popular in Japan. Unsurprisingly, it was introduced to Japan in the late nineteenth century by the British and since then has undergone something of a transformation.
You can actually buy Japanese curry roux in most large Australian supermarkets, but I was basing my contribution to this lunch around a recipe Andy had cooked several times previously. This recipe doesn’t make use of a roux and just specifies that one should use some Japanese curry powder.
As Andy was off at work, I didn’t have the luxury of asking him what he’d used in the past (it transpires that the answer to that question was ‘garam masala’ …), so I immediately googled, hoping we had enough spices to cobble together my own approximation.
Happily, we did – I used a combination of sources, some of which only specified ratios, some which specified spices we didn’t have, to create the following.
I won’t be posting the entire curry recipe for some time (we, er, might have eaten it without taking any photos) but I thought I would write up the curry powder – if only so that next time I am not left scratching my head.
This curry powder will work in any situation where a recipe (Japanese or otherwise) calls for curry powder. As it contains very little chilli it’s perfect for anyone who wants some complexity of flavour without heat.
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp chilli powder or cayenne pepper
- 1 clove
- ¼ tsp fennel seeds (optional)
- If any of your spices are whole, put all of the ingredients in a spice grinder and grind, otherwise just mix together.
- Store in a clean jar in a dark drawer or cupboard.