Sunday, April 11, 2010

Saoji Curried Lamb Shanks with Aloo Paratha

What better a way to welcome in the cooler months in style than with a rich lamb curry and crisp flaky Indian Breads?

A saoji, a traditional curry of Nagpur, would normally be made with mutton, but seriously the lax guidelines used in Australia to delineate between lamb and mutton mean that unless you're buying it from a reputable butcher, chances are that 'lamb' you're buying is actually borderline mutton. In this case, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. This is not a burn-your-buds sort of curry but rather a rich and hearty one which sticks to the ribs.

A paratha is a flaky Indian flatbread which literally translates to 'layers of cooked flour'. The recipe below is for aloo paratha, or spiced potato paratha. It is easy to make but don't feel confined to the ingredients below, or even to potato. Parathas can contain minced lamb, cheese, herbs, even, as at The Langham Buffet in Melbourne, mini m&ms. (darn, now i wish i made one of them whilst i was at it. Next time!)

Ingredients (Serves 3 as full dinner)

Saoji Lamb Shanks

  • 6 lamb shanks, frenched
  • 8 green cardamon pods
  • 15 black pepper corns
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 cup dessicated coconut
  • 6 dried chillis
  • 6 medium onions
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp crushed ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 tbsp ghee (ideally) or canoli oil
  • 3 cups water
  • Salt to taste 
  • Cream, for garnish

Aloo paratha

  • 250gm whole grain, or bread flour plus extra for dusting
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large potato
  • 1 heaped tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely and sauteed
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp tumeric powder
  • 1 tbsp butter or ghee
  • oil for shallow frying


Saoji Lamb Shanks

Roughly chop the onions and place in a medium saucepan with 1 tbsp of oil and bring to a low-medium heat.
Sweat and then sautee the onions until they are very soft and begin to turn brown.
Transfer the onions to a blender.
In the same saucepan, add all of the spices, coconut, garlic and ginger and cook until very fragrant.
Transfer to the blender.
Blend into a fine puree.
Preheat oven to 150 degrees.
Take a large crockpot or dutch oven and place on stove over medium-high heat with 2 tbsp oil.
Brown the lamb shanks in the oil, then add the pureed paste and mix through with 3 cups water.
Cover and place in the oven.
Cook for 4 hours or until meat is tender but not yet completely off the bone.
Serve lamb shanks with a ladle of the sauce and a spoon of cream.

Aloo paratha

Boil the potato in salted water until soft, then peel.
Add the spices, onion and 1/2 tsp salt and mash together. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, 1/2 tsp salt, and flour to form 'breadcrumbs.'
Mix through enough water to bring the flour together and form a tough dough.
Turn onto a floured benchtop and knead for 7 minutes.
Let rest for 10 minutes then divide into 5-6 gofball sized pieces.
Roll the first piece out into a 10cm round and add 1 heaped teaspoon of the potato mixture to the centre.
Bring the ends of the round together over the filling, a bit like a dumpling, pinching the top to seal.

Flour the ball, then flip over so the seal is against the benchtop and roll out into a 20cm pancake.
**don't worry if some of the potato mixture squeezes out when you're rolling it; it happens to us all!
Repeat for remaining balls of dough.
Heat the oil in a frying pan until shimmering
Add the first pancake, cooking until golden brown on 1 side before flipping and repeating on the other side.

Repeat for remaining pancakes, letting the cooked ones rest on paper towel.
Cut the parathas in half and serve next to the saoji

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