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).
Here in Adelaide we’re having something of a ‘hot’ week … today we hit 44.2°C and I spent the morning at a local pool wearing out my small child. It appears to have worked, as he then slept for over a couple of hours, which is the most sensible activity for pretty much anyone at the moment!
It’s actually too hot to contemplate barbecuing (we tried last night and Andy melted into a little puddle …) but by the time Saturday rolls around, this weather will be a distant memory and summer will be back on an even keel with temperatures in the high twenties/low thirties and that is perfect BBQ weather.
I have had this recipe tagged for ages – but wasn’t able to make it because we’ve had something of a time tracking down szechuan pepper. Andy sourced me some for Christmas so you can now expect to see szechuan pepper in almost everything.
The original recipe calls these Xinjiang skewers. On reading the recipe, I thought it sounded remarkably Uyghur like (yes, my whole one Uyghur restaurant experience qualified me to have that thought!) and it turns out that Xinjiang (or, more formally, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region) is the province in China in which most Uyghur live.
There you go – recipes and a bit of geography/politics to boot!
Tone down (or dial up) the chilli or szechuan pepper to suit. We found that the quantities given worked well (and weren’t so spicy that our toddler couldn’t make a fair first of things either). And, of course, you can always substitute chicken (or other BBQ friendly meat) for the lamb.
The marinade has the bonus of being extremely quick and easy to make and versatile. It is also great to make ahead to take to BBQs – beats supermarket snags with almost no effort!
We’ve given this recipe a couple of outings already. The first time we made it, we had no skewers (long story) so there was no point in photographing it. It would have been ‘lamb on a plate’. For that – see my interpretation (via Elizabeth David) of the Greek arni souvlaki.
Don’t want to print? Download the lamb skewers recipe as a pdf!
- 1 kg lamb shoulder, cut into large bite sized chunks
- 2 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp chilli flakes
- 1 tbsp ground black pepper (as freshly ground as possible)
- 1 tsp ground szechuan pepper
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 4 tbsp peanut oil (or other neutral flavoured oil)
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 4 cloves garlic, finely crushed
- salt to taste
- Combine all the ingredients (bar the lamb) to make a marinade, and then mix the lamb through with your hands, ensuring that it's evenly coated with the marinade.
- Cover with cling film and leave to marinate for as long as possible - preferably overnight but if you're in a real hurry, half an hour will do.
- Heat a grill or BBQ and thread the cubes of lamb onto skewers. If using bamboo skewers, be sure to soak them for at least an hour before using so that they don't splinter and don't catch on fire!
- Cook the skewers, turning frequently, until the lamb is done to your liking.
- Serve with plenty of salad.
Regular readers will know that last year, in particular, I ate more Nepalese than average. That means I went to two Nepalese restaurants. But seriously, how many have you been to?!
Despite really enjoying the food on both occasions, this isn’t a cuisine I’ve ventured into in the kitchen. So when I spotted a recipe for lamb chhoeyla (Nepalese grilled lamb) in Mums Still Know Best by the Hairy Bikers I thought I’d give it a go. I actually made this late last year and I’m quite glad it’s taken me so long to blog it because if you’re in a part of Australia where it’s sweltering (it’s almost cracked 41°C today here in Adelaide) then you might be after something different to do on the BBQ …
I took a few short cuts with this but it was absolutely fantastic. You could leave out either the sauce or the marinade. For example, if you were doing a BBQ and catering for a variety of tastes, omit the marinade and serve the sauce on the side. Cooking for people who like spicy food but you’re running short on time? Ditch the sauce. Or just make the sauce and serve it on the side of, well, um, anything really. We had a little left over and used it in a stir fry the next day.
Talk about versatile!
This is all easy-peasy but you do need to allow a little time for marinading and making the sauce. And, of course, this is spicy so not ideal for any chilli-averse guests!
Don’t want to print? Download a pdf of the recipe.
Nepalese Lamb Chops (Lamb Chhoeyla)
- 4-5 lamb chops
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp turmeric
- ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp chilli paste (I used a Szechuan chutney)
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tbsp ginger paste
- pinch asafoetida
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted
- 1 red chilli, roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2.5 cm piece of ginger
- pinch asafoetida
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil - use some mustard oil for an extra spice hit
- To make the marinade, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Add the lamb chops and ensure they are well coated. Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside for at least a couple of hours.
- Place all ingredients in a blender and process until you have a smooth paste. Season with salt and pepper and adjust thickness (depending on how you want to use it!) with oil.
- Cook the lamb - either on the BBQ or using a griddle. Baste with any left over marinade.
- When the lamb is cooked to your liking, you can either chop it up (especially if boneless) and mix it through the sauce or you can serve it with the sauce on the side.