Things have improved vastly in the past few days, so much so that I am writing this post from the number 12 bus on my way into the office. My shoulder has almost completely recovered and the sun is shining in through the window.
Now I am no longer injured, I will be able to go ahead with my plan to go indoor climbing on Friday evening. Wednesday was Ollie’s and my nine-year anniversary. We decided a while ago to scrap this one as we now have a wedding anniversary to celebrate each June, but shortly after reconsidered and decided instead to use it as an opportunity to do something in London that we have never done before, something perhaps a bit crazy and off-the-wall. So Friday you will find me scrambling up a wall in a disused biscuit factory in Bermondsey. How I love making new traditions.
As well as this, I followed an old tradition of asking Ollie what he would like for dinner that evening. Asking that of somebody who loves food so much often gets an unpredictable answer, but this time he said exactly what I expected him to say: he wanted a curry.
Curries are so perfect for this time of year, not only because they are warming, but because autumn produce lends itself so well to being cooked in this way. Take a little look at the Eat the Seasons blog and you’ll see listed there a number of vegetables, meats and fish just dying to be cooked up in spices. I decided to make a lamb curry, as we had eaten two chicken dishes earlier in the week, and to make the most well-known lamb curry of all: the rogan josh.
The problem with making curry on a weeknight is that you need one that can be cooked in a relatively short time. Unless you want to eat at 11pm, slow cooking or lengthy marinading is out – best to leave those for the weekend. This recipe, based on one by Anjum Anand, manages to get a deep rich flavour without either of these processes. Lamb leg meat is the best for this type of curry, but it can be pricey, so use neck fillet instead if you are watching the pennies. The lamb is cooked first in the spices, and then cooked down in water several times to create a deep rich sauce. The whole cooking time is no more than an hour and can easily be reheated. Best eaten with a cold bottle of Brewdog‘s Punk IPA.
Lamb Rogan Josh
10 black peppercorns
10 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1 onion, finely chopped
500g lamb neck fillet
6 garlic cloves
1inch piece of ginger, peeled and quartered
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp ground fennel seeds
1½ tsp garam masala
2 tomatoes, pureed
3 tbsp natural yoghurt
Bunch fresh coriander, leaves only, chopped
Heat the vegetable oil in a very large saucepan and fry the peppercorns, cardamom pods, cloves and cinnamon for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Add the onion and cook on a medium heat until translucent and starting to brown, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
Add the lamb and cook for about five minutes until browned all over.
Puree the garlic cloves and ginger together in a food processor with a tablespoon of water until they come together in a rough paste. Add to the lamb, stirring to coat, and cook for a further five minutes.
Stir in the ground coriander, ground cumin, cayenne pepper, ground fennel seeds, garam masala, salt, pureed tomatoes and yoghurt. Reduce the heat to low and cover with a lid, cooking for 10 minutes.
Add 2-3 tablespoons of water to the mixture and cook on a medium heat for a further 8-10 minutes, stirring continually, until the sauce has thickened. Add a little more water if the sauce begins to dry out.
Pour in enough boiling water to cover the lamb and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until the sauce is thick and the lamb is cooked and tender.
Serve with rice, naan, chutney and raita.
Serves 2-3. Adapted from a recipe by Anjum Anand.