Eid Mubarak !!
Any festival is my festival - since they all celebrate good food, happy conversations and connects every person over a hearty,wholesome meal cooked with love. Regional festivals and the food that celebrates its existence, is undergoing a renaissance. One such cuisine is Awadh - cuisine of the Lucknow nawabs, known to love their Kormas and Kebabs with a distinctive sense of spicing. If you ever want to enjoy this kingly cuisine, please go to Dum Pukht in ITC Maurya, known to serve Awadh food from the original Awadh cook to the Royals of yesteryears.
I recently picked up this book called "India Cookbook by Pushpesh Pant" (available on Amazon). If you love your cookbooks, this one is a must buy to add onto your collection. Since it spans recipes across the sub continent varying from chutneys, appetisers, curries, gravies, desserts and more. Although the indexing could have been better, with page numbers for each recipe and simpler instructions - trust me, you don't need another Indian cookbook, if you have this one in your library.
Call me naive, but Im a bit lost when it comes to different meat cuts. I only know my chops & ribs. And since it was Eid, we got the finest ribs for lunch and I had to do something special, something that I have never cooked before to justify this beautiful meat and add in some festivity to my lunch. After going through various books and not the internet, after all there's a reason why I spend money on hardbound beauties and not kindle. (Bibliophile me!!) I stumbled upon Chaamp Baadami - Almond chops. I must confess however that , I haven't followed the book recipe completely - since I've added 2 additional ingredients of my choice :)
Now don't get scared by the huge list of ingredients this chaamp requires, trust me they are all part of anyone's kitchen and nothing fancy about it. But yes - this is an Awadh dish (as the book mentions & I ain't no expert) hence the elaborate affair in how its done. The twice cooked lamb, with 2 hours of marination in multiple spices and almond paste. Truly makes this dish Royale and finger licking good with a mellowed yet lingering rich taste.
INGREDIENTS : (Serves - 4)
12 Lamb chops trimmed
For the marinade :
4tbsp - White Vinegar
1/2 cup - Plain yoghurt, whisked
2 tsp - Raw Papaya paste (this makes the meat tender)
1/2 tsp - Chilli powder
1/2 tsp - ground green cardamon
1/2 tsp - ground cloves
1tsp - Ground blackpepper corn
Pinch of nutmeg
For the sauce:
8 tbsp - Ghee/Unsalted butter or Oil (Ghee is preferred)
1 cup - Almonds
5 Green Cardamon pods
1 inch Cinnamon stick
2 Bay leaves
4 tsp - Garlic paste, freshly ground
2 tsp - Ginger paste, freshly ground
1/2 cup - fried onion paste
1 tbsp - Chilli powder (add more/less basis the spice level desired)
1 drop - Meeta Ittar / Kewda essence
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves for garnish (optional)
1. In a deep bowl add in all the spice powders (under marinade) plus vinegar and rub the mixture into the meat.
2. Next add the papaya & whisked curd, mix well. Set aside for at least 2hrs or more in a refrigerator.
3. In a small wok/kadai - heat 1tbsp ghee/butter (not oil) and fry the almonds for 3-4mins on low flame.
Strain the almonds off excess ghee, cool them and grind to a fine paste by adding just about 200ml of water. Set aside.
4. In the same pan, with left over ghee/melted butter, fry the chopped onions until golden brown. Once cool, blend it into a fine paste & set aside. ( you should have about 1 cup )
5. Heat a nice big chunk of ghee/butter in a grill girdle (or you can bake the ribs in an OTG @ 140c for 15-20mins). I used a grill girdle, since it gives me more control in evenly browning the pieces and checking if the meat is well done with full freedom - which an oven lacks, since you cant keep opening it every now & then .
Place the meat pieces on a well heated grill girdle. Ensure you spread the marinade liquid over the ribs and don't throw it away.
So what are you waiting for - cook up this Royal affair right now!!
6. Cook until you notice the outer layer getting caramelised and the meat is well done. Keep adding additional butter/brush the meat pieces with butter if you notice them sticking to the pan.
Once done - Set the pieces aside and collect the left over melted butter/ghee marinade mixture in a small bowl (which will pretty much be like a buttery brown sauce).
7. In a deep, non stick pan - melt 2 tbsp butter/ghee.
8. Add in the whole spices mentioned under Sauce Ingredients - let them splutter and induce their fragrance into the butter/ghee.
9. Add in the fried onion paste, ginger paste and garlic paste.
10. Cook this onion/ginger/garlic mixture until all the water evaporates, it should turn slightly brown and oil starts to separate.
11. Next add in the ground almond paste - turn down the flame to medium.
12. Ensure that you are constantly stirring to avoid any sticking/burning at the bottom of the pan. Cook until all the water evaporates - leaving a thick consistency behind. Be careful not to burn or overly brown the sauce base.
13. Add in the Red chilli powder basis the spice levels desired and stir well.
14. Add one cup of water and bring the mixture to a boil. Once it starts boiling add the marinade -ghee sauce mixture (collected after grilling the ribs) and stir.
15. Once the mixture starts boiling, add the grilled ribs and cook on a low flame for 10-15mins with a closed lid on , until the sauce thickens. Add the meeta attar/kewda essence . Do not stir too much, since the meat will fall off the ribs .
16. Serve hot with Rotis/Naan/Ghee rice.