If you asked my man what his favorite dish is, he’ll tell you either anything pasta related or lamb. Trust me, if I fed him lamb and pasta for the rest of his life, I think he’ll be pretty satisfied with it. Besides the Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake that I made for his birthday last Friday, he also wanted lamb for dinner. The challenge, as usual, was that he didn’t want me to follow a recipe verbatim, but rather, use it as a guidance and come up with something of my own. Challenge accepted. I decided to create my version of Achari Lamb Curry.
Achari is basically “pickling” spice, meaning spices that usually go into Indian pickles. The flavors are just so indescribable. It’s loaded with spices but it’s not super hot, unless if you want it to be, of course. Usually, this dish is VERY oily but being health conscious and all, I decided to make this with just a bit of oil-still tasted amazing and my heart thanked me for it.
Even though this dish requires a lot of prep time, the cooking is fairly easy since I used a slow cooker (crock pot). Best invention ever. Marinate the meat overnight, throw in the crock pot in the morning-6-7 hours later, BOOM, dinner. Perfect. This gave me plenty of time to finish up the cake, make rice, and roti. Yum yum!
This dish had so much flavor-it was like fireworks in my mouth! Plus, the lamb was INCREDIBLY tender. All the spices just popped in my mouth from the cumin to coriander to garlic to onion! It was amazing.
What made this dish compared to most achari dishes is that it was more curry based. Typically, at least when I’ve had it, it’s a pretty dry dish but I made this more liquid based to mix it in with the rice. Now, don’t let the red color freak you out-I used Kashmiri chili powder, which just gives it that red hue without all that spiciness. If you can’t find Kashmiri powder, feel free to use Spanish Paprika. I did make this dish pretty spicy but you can adjust it according to your liking.
This is a BIG dish-it serves about 6-8 people, depending on how many hungry people you are feeding. If you don’t own a slow cooker, don’t worry because I’ve posted the directions on how to cook it on the stovetop!
For the marinate:
- 3 lbs boneless leg of lamb-trimmed of fat and cut into 1 inch cubes
- 5 tbsp full fat yogurt
- 1 large white onion, diced in large chunks
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1.5 inch ginger, cut into chunks
- 2 tsp Kashmiri Chili Powder *
- salt, to taste
- 2.5 tsp red chili powder or to taste
For the curry:
- 1 tsp each of the following: kalonji (onion seeds)*, brown or black mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds*, fennel seeds
- 1 large white onion, sliced
- Pinch of asafetida (hing)*
- 1.5 tsp oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves, crushed with hands*
- 4-5 medium tomatoes, chopped or 2 small cans of chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder*
- 1 tbsp garam masala*
- 1 dried bay leaf
- salt, to taste
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped (leave about 1 tbsp for garnish)
*Note: Can be found at any Indo-Pak grocery stores or international grocery stores. If you can’t find it at your store, you can definitely find it online.
- In a food processor, blend the onions, garlic, ginger, and salt into a fine paste.
- Add the paste into the lamb, along with both chili powders and yogurt.
- Mix to combine well, cover with cling film tightly and marinate in fridge overnight
- The day of cooking, heat a pan over medium-low heat. At this time, bring out the lamb and let it sit on the counter top.
- Add the kalonji, cumin, mustard, fenugreek, and fennel seeds.
- Roast until they turn slightly brown, about 2-3 minutes
- Once roasted, pour the seeds into a paper towel. Fold the paper towel a few times and run a rolling pin over them to crush them. This will help release their oil and aroma even more.
- In a pan, heat 1.5 tsp oil over medium-high heat
- Add the hing and onions and cook until slightly translucent, about 2 minutes
- Add the garlic and crushed and roasted seeds and cook until the onions turn slightly brown
- Add the coriander, garam masala and turmeric powder and cook for about 15 seconds
- Add the tomatoes and fenugreek leaves and cook for about 3-4 minutes.
- Season with salt, according to your taste. Remember, however, that the lamb already has started so watch out.
- Pour tomato mixture into the slow cooker, along with the marinated lamb and bay leaf. Mix well until combined
- Add the water, mix once more, cover, and cook on low for 6-7 hours or until the lamb is tender.
- About 3/4 way into the cooking, add in the cilantro leaves.
- Once the lamb is cooked thoroughly, adjust the seasonings accordingly and garnish with cilantro leaves.
- Serve with basmati rice and roti!
If you don’t own a slow cooker…
- Once the tomatoes are added into the pan, add the lamb and cook until the lamb is browned.
- Add the water and bring to a boil.
- Lower the meat to medium, cover, and cook until lamb is done and tender. The time can vary anywhere between 30 minutes to 1 hour. Just keep an eye on it.
- Halfway through cooking, add the cilantro leaves.
- Adjust the seasoning accordingly and garnish with cilantro leaves once done!