Friday, March 18, 2011

Lamb Korma

Recently, Clare and I had dinner with some of my best friends at a local Indian restaurant called Indian Ocean, where I ordered one of the daily specials, Lamb Korma.  The dish was excellent, especially the rich sauce. I kept eating the sauce even after I finished the lamb, using naan to get as much of the sauce as possible.  A few days later, when Clare and I were cleaning out our cupboard, we came across a recipe packet for Lamb Korma that I had bought from Lewes Gourmet when we had visited Lewes, Delaware.  The packet, which includes all of the spices and the instructions needed to make lamb korma, was sold by the World Cuisine Institute, LTD.   With that packet, I decided that I would make this dish.

The origins of what is known as korma generally date back to the 16th century, when the Mughal Empire controlled a large swath of land that is now Pakistan and India.  Mughlai cuisine represents the cooking styles of Punjab and Delhi, influenced by both Persian and Turkic cuisines.  However, korma is distinctly an Indian dish of meat and/or vegetables braised in water, stock or cream.  In fact, the word "korma" is derived from the Urdu and Hindu word for "braise." 

The flavors of the dish, as well as its spiciness, depend upon the herbs and spices that you use. In the case of the recipe that I was using, the spices included, but were not limited to, ginger, cardamom, chile powder, coriander, cumin, turmeric and cinnamon.  All of the herbs and spices were pre-measured and sealed in little packets.  This made preparing the dish much easier, but it makes blogging a little harder.  I did my best to estimate the measurements for the recipe. 

Recipe from World Cuisine Institute
Serves 4-6

1 1/2 pounds of lamb, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 medium onions, diced (about 3 cups)
1/2 tablespoon of garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon of ginger, minced
2 cups of water
1 medium tomato, peeled and roughly chopped.
3 tablespoons of cream
2 tablespoons of fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon of Kasoori Methi (dried fenugreek) leaves
Salt, to taste
Ground cashew nuts

Ingredients (for the Garam Masala):
6 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves 
6 whole green cardamom seeds

Ingredients (for the Curry Masala):
Ground coriander
Cumin powder
Chili Powder 

1.  Make the sauce.  Heat the oil on medium heat in a medium sized sauce pan with a lid.  Add the Garam Masala spices immediately followed by the onions.  Saute the onions until they are caramelized, which is about fifteen minutes.

2.  Add the garlic and ginger.  Saute the garlic and ginger in the pan.  Continue to saute the garlic begins to brown, about two minutes.  Add some water if the mixture begins to stick.

3.  Add the spices, tomatoes and water.  Add the Curry Masala spices, salt, tomato and 1 cup of water.  Cook until the tomato has broken down, about eight minutes.

4.  Add the lamb.  Stir in the lamb and remaining water.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for thirty minutes. Remove the lid and cook for another fifteen minutes, or until the meat is tender.  Add additional water if the mixture becomes dry and begins to stick.

5.  Finish the dish. Turn off the heat.  Stir in the cream, cashews and cilantro.  Crumble and stir in the Kasoori Methi leaves.

6.  Plate the dish.  Spoon some of the lamb korma in the dish.  Serve with rice or naan bread.

Overall, the recipe produced a great dish.  However, I think that I would change the recipe a little by first browning the lamb meat in a couple tablespoons of vegetable or canola oil.  Browning the lamb helps to improve the taste and texture of the meat, as well as seal in some of the juices so that it does not dry out or become tough during the cooking process. 


Check Wikipedia for more about korma and about Mughlai cuisine.

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