Sunday, January 22, 2006

Lamb and Cilantro Redux


You might remember the lamb and cilantro pie. Well, it was an utter failure as leftovers. But since there was a healthy quantity of perfectly good lamb and potatoes inside, so I decided to have another try. Here's the dinner we wound up with after I gutted the thing and reworked its component parts: Spicy Lamb with Peas and Mint and Indian-Spiced Potato Fritters.

The resulting meal was unanimously agreed to be superior in nearly every way to the pie that gave it birth. I consider the lamb and peas dish a standby, and make it often with a package of pre-ground lamb from the supermarket. The potato fritters were a bold experiment that turned out rather well. If I had a leftover baked potato on hand, I'd certainly make them again. The final product looked nothing like the lovely, golden evenly shaped disks in the cookbook, but they were quite tasty.

***
Spicy Indian Lamb with Peas and Mint

In a large, heavy-bottomed pan, heat:
2 Tablespoons oil (I use peanut or corn)

Gently fry until soft:
1 large onion, roughly diced
2 large carrots, finely diced

Turn the heat to high and add:
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, finely minced or microplaned
1 inch fresh ginger, finely minced or microplaned
2 fresh green chiles, minced
1/2 teaspoon chile powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric

Cook for 2-3 minutes, until spices are fragrant and tomato begins to caramelize.

Reduce heat to medium and add:
2 pounds ground lamb, or precooked lamb cubes, minced

If adding uncooked ground lamb, cook for 7-10 minutes or until brown, breaking up clumps. If adding cooked lamb, just heat through.

You can pause here and wait for other dishes to catch up if need be. I used this time to fry potato cakes and wait for a pan of basmati rice to get appropriately fluffy and dry.

Right before you are ready to eat, add:
1 generous cup frozen green peas (tiny petit pois are best)
2-3 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
2 Tablespoons mint chutney, or fresh mint

Heat through and serve immediately with yogurt, mint and mango chutneys, and basmati rice.

***
Indian-Spiced Potato Cakes

Mix together in a large bowl, preferably by squishing the ingredients together with your hands until they cohere:
2 cups cooked potato (baked, boiled, whatever you've got on hand)
2 fresh green chiles, minced
1 handful fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons honey
salt, to taste

When the mixture is well blended, form into small hockey pucks. Heat 2-3 Tablespoons oil in a skillet or griddle. Fry until golden brown, or as close as you can get. I found that turning the cakes with a pair of forks was easier than getting a spatula under them.

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