Lamb Pepper Fry
Lamb Pepper Fry Recipe
From Kerala, this curry – a very common recipe among the Christians of the region, where it would most likely be made with mutton or goat – has very little gravy. In my catering college, I had lots of classmates from Kerala and they were all experts at cooking curries like this. I was fortunate to learn first-hand from the masters. I owe so much to George; he was an absolutely amazing chef and this was his favourite curry as well. Whenever I’m in Kerala I try to meet up with George because my career owes so much to him.
This is such a different cooking technique than I am used to using in north Indian recipes. There I would fry the ginger first, but here the onions go straight into the pan with the ginger and garlic. Also, cooking in coconut oil gives the dish a totally different taste.
I have actually been very cautious with the black pepper here although it might look like a lot, but if a Keralan chef was making this he or she would add lots and lots of pepper, so feel free to add as much as you like. All you need is some bread to serve with this.
600g boneless lamb rump or neck fillet
2.5cm piece of fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons black peppercorns, or to taste (see introduction, above)
fresh coriander leaves
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 heaped tablespoon coconut oil
5 fresh or dried curry leaves
2 teaspoons Onion Paste (page 218)
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
Assemble all the ingredients and equipment before you begin. You need a spice grinder or pestle and mortar, a large heavy-based saucepan with a lid, a sieve and a large sauté or frying pan.
Cut the lamb into bite-sized pieces, trimming and discarding any fat, then set aside. Peel and finely chop the ginger. Peel and thinly slice the garlic cloves. Peel, halve and thinly slice the onions. Put the peppercorns in a spice grinder, or use a pestle and mortar, to finely grind or crush. Rinse and chop enough coriander leaves to make about 1 tablespoon.
Put the lamb, water, vinegar, ½ teaspoon of the freshly ground pepper and ½ teaspoon of the salt in the saucepan. Cover the pan and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and leave the meat to simmer at a slow boil for 8 minutes. Strain the meat, reserving the cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, melt the coconut oil over a medium-high heat in the sauté pan. Add the onions, curry leaves, ginger, garlic and a pinch of salt, and stir until the onions are lightly coloured. Add the onion paste and turmeric and stir into the onions for 30 seconds.
Add the meat and stir in half the reserved cooking liquid, which will be absorbed and evaporate quite quickly. Add the remaining liquid a little at a time, stirring, until it mostly evaporates. With the last addition, the gravy should almost be like a thin paste coating the lamb and the lamb should be tender.
Stir in 1 teaspoon of the freshly ground pepper, adjust the seasoning with salt, if necessary, and continue stirring until all the liquid evaporates. Sprinkle with about ½ teaspoon of the ground pepper and the chopped coriander leaves just before serving.