CKP Style Maharashtrian Lamb Curry (Mutton)

I’m sure there are many many recipes for Indian lamb curry out there.  Some of the more known in the US are Rogan Josh or Vindaloo, but one rarely sees Maharashtrian food in most Indian restaurants in the Western world.  Since I grew up with this type of food, it is what I tend to cook most often and what is dear to my heart.  And this is what I made for my recent dinner party which was in the Traditions with a Twist post.

Many Maharashtrians are vegetarians and but there are also many who are not.  My family falls into the latter category.  Since I grew up around Mumbai, we mostly ate a lot of fish and seafood.  Chicken was not a common meat in our diets but rather once a week, usually on Sundays, we would eat mutton.  In India mutton is made from goat and not lamb. Since I don’t care for the way the goat butchers at the Indian markets hack up the meat, I prefer to go to my local butcher and make mine with lamb which I also find a little less gamey and more tender.

I still remember when I was young in India and my paternal grandfather used to take the train to his favorite butcher two towns over to buy the goat on Sunday mornings.  Then my mother and grandmother would cut and prep it for dinner.  The aromas in the house were unforgettable and when I make this recipe, I am transported back to those days and the memories that accompany.

I can’t really tell you what CKP is as it has never really been explained to me.  Here is a definition I found on Wikipedia which is more than I knew of my own people.  

Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu (CKP), is an ethno-religious community of South Asia. It is part of the broader Kayastha community. Traditionally, the CKPs have been granted the upper caste status, which allowed them to study the Vedas and perform religious rites along with Brahmins.Though they originated in North India,Central Asia and East Asia the CKPs are today concentrated primarily in western Maharashtra, southern Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh (Indore region). They played an important role in the establishment and administration of the Maratha empire


If you are CKP and reading this blog, please do use the comments section below to provide any additional information.  I know that we are part of the warrior caste called Kshatriya and that we are not vegetarians.

Ingredients

7 lb Leg of Lamb – I have the butcher debone and cut the meat into 1 inch cubes and the bones into larger pieces.
½ Cup plain yogurt – I use non-fat greek style
2 Tbsp crushed garlic
2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cayenne or Indian red chili powder
1 whole stick cinnamon
3 medium red onions – finely chopped
1 recipe garam masala (see recipe below)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 recipe wet masala (see recipe below)
Salt to taste – I add about 1 ½ – 2 Tbsp
Garnish:
30 pearl onions – peeled and cut in half
Chopped cilantro

Garam Masala (dry spice blend)

Garam Masala
3 dry red chilis (add more for more heat)
1 stick cinnamon broken into smaller pieces
10 whole cloves
20 peppercorns
1 Tbsp coriander seeds
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
1 Tbsp fennel seeds
10 pods of green cardamom (whole)
¼ tsp canola or vegetable oil
In a heavy bottom skillet, heat oil and add all spices.  Heat and stir until coriander seeds start to brown and you smell the aromas from the spices.  Allow to cool for a few minutes, add to a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder.  Set aside until ready to use.
 
Note: This Garam Masala can be used for other recipes as well.  Different cooks have different versions but this is mine. 
 

Wet Masala

½ cup dry shredded unsweetened coconut
Sauteing the Onions
1 large red onion – thinly sliced
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 15 oz can whole plum tomatoes
In a heavy bottom pan, toast the coconut over medium heat until it starts to brown.  Remove from pan and add to a blender.  In same pan, heat ¼ cup canola oil and add sliced onion and ground cinnamon.  Turn heat to high and sauté the onion until golden stirring frequently to avoid burning. Add to the blender.  Add the can of tomatoes to the blender and puree until smooth.  Set aside until ready for use.

Recipe (serves 8 – 10)

Prepare the marinade – combine yogurt, garlic, ginger, turmeric & cayenne in a large glass bowl or container.  Add lamb (not the bones) and mix well.  Cover and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
 
Color of the curry when finished
Cook the lamb curry – Remove lamb from refrigerator 1 hour before cooking.  In a large dutch oven, heat ¼ cup canola oil on high heat.  Add the bones and brown on all sides.  Remove to a large plate and set aside.  Reheat the oil adding more as needed.  Sear the cubed lamb pieces in batches just until they are browned so that there is only one layer at the bottom of the pot.  Remove and reserve on the large plate.  I usually do this in three batches.  Once all the lamb has been browned, wipe off the liquid at the bottom of the pot if necessary and heat another ¼ cup of oil on medium high heat.  Add cinnamon stick.  Once it starts to sizzle and open up, add the chopped onion.  Sauté for 2 minutes until translucent.  Add garam masala and stir to combine.  Add tomato paste and stir until the paste turns a dark, rich color.  Add the wet masala and cook on medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until you see the oil separating on the sides –  about 5 – 8 minutes.  Add the seared lamb and bones and stir.  Add water to just cover the lamb and the salt.  Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 2 – 3 hours or until the lamb is tender and the curry has a deep color.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  You may add more cayenne if you want the curry to be hotter or salt according to taste.
 
Just before serving, saute the pearl onions until golden brown (I deep fry them to make them extra crispy).  Transfer the lamb to a serving bowl and garnish with the pearl onions and chopped cilantro.  Serve with plain basmati rice.  I add a pinch of saffron to the rice once the water boils to give it a nice color and added flavor.
 

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