You can’t help but admire and love a culture as vibrant as India. And Holi celebrates that. It marks the arrival of Spring- my favorite season. Why? Well it is the period of bloom, hope and new beginnings. And how can I miss the geyser of colors- ambers, corals, crimsons and glossy greens.
In India, on Holi everyone gets ready for a day of camaraderie, yummy food, hi-jinx and lots of mischief. On this day you use as much color and flavor to rekindle the spirit of life. There is Thandai, there is Gujiya, there is colored powder, and there is pichkari- how can one not get excited.
Anyway, my family and friends don’t go crazy <thank goodness>. This means no eggs, no grease, and no permanent color. We stick to chandan <good for the skin> and herbal, organic colors <again good for the skin>. Once the playing is done, there is lots of food and gujiya.
For this Holi, we had a stunner of a dish. A simple, delicious Indian Mutton Curry. The recipe comes from a dear friend and I can’t thank her enough to pass it down to me.
So here goes.
Things you need:
- Bone-less lamb pieces <cut into 1 to 1½” cubes> and lamb shanks cut about 2″ long: 1 kg
- ½ cup Ghee <clarified butter>
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1½ cup chopped onions
- 4 cloves of garlic <peeled and crushed>
- 1” ginger <peeled>
- 1 cinnamon stick <broken>
- 2 black cardamoms <crack open the pods>
- 3-4 cloves
- 3-4 black peppercorns
- 1½ cup curd
- 1 teaspoon corn flour
- 2 teaspoon Degi Mirch <paprika>
- 4 drops of edible red food color <or 2 teaspoons of ratan jot>
- 1 teaspoon ground Lal Mirch <cayenne pepper>
- 1 teaspoon Meat Masala
- Salt according to taste
- 2 cups of water
- Blitz the onions, garlic and ginger in a food processor to make a paste. Keep aside.
- In a heavy bottom pan, heat ghee. Add the lamb and fry till all sides are seared and the meat is brown. Remember NOT to overcrowd the pan. Remove lamb and set aside.
- In the same pan <with the ghee and meaty juices>, put the cumin seeds, sauté till brown.
- Add the onion-garlic-ginger paste and fry till the moisture is gone. It will turn from greenish- brown and to light brown.
- Once the color is changed, add cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and peppercorn. Fry for about 2 minutes.
- Put the fried lamb pieces <one-by-one> back into the pan. Turn the heat down.
- In a clean bowl, mix corn flour and yogurt to make a thick paste. Into the paste put the food color. Stir well. Spoon-by spoon add this mixture slowly into the meat. DON’T do this at high flame, the curd might curdle. Cook till the yogurt is well blended into the curry.
- Add the rest of the ingredients except water. Cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add ¼ cup of water. Simmer covered on low heat.
- Repeat this step till all the water is used up.
That’s it. The whole recipe does take 3-4 hours. But it is so worth it.
You are left with the most juicy, tender lamb in a thick, earthy, tasty curry. Sprinkle some fresh coriander on top and enjoy it with rice or some parathas. We did along with some beer.
Hope all of you had a wonderful Holi. Stay blessed with the color of health, happiness and love.