I have always been intrigued by what is known worldwide as the fiery Madras curry. The reason I am curious is because no such curry is actually traditionally made in India! This popular dish is in fact, a western version of how meat curries are made in south India! Here is how I make it, using traditional south Indian spices.
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp poppy seeds/ khus khus
- 6 peppercorns
- 6 cloves
- 3" piece of cinnamon
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 tbsps coriander powder
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 1/2 fresh coconut, flesh removed and cut into thin 2" long strips
- 2 tsps garlic paste
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 3-4 tbsps vegetable/ canola/ sunflower cooking oil
- 2 onions chopped fine
- 1 kg lamb cut into 2" chunks
- 3 large tomatoes, chopped fine
- 1 cup thick coconut milk
- Salt to taste
- Heat a griddle or flat pan on medium heat. Add the whole spices - cumin, poppy and fennel seeds, bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns. Roast till spices get slightly darker and aromatic. Remove from heat and keep aside for 10 minutes. Now grind to a fine powder in a clean, dry coffee grinder.
- Put the coconut slivers, garlic and ginger pastes, cumin and red chilli powders and the above mixed spice powder into a food processor. Add 3-4 tbsps of water and grind to a smooth paste.
- Heat the cooking oil in a deep, heavy-bottomed pan on medium heat. Add the onion to it when hot. Fry till almost golden. Add the above masala (spice paste) and reduce heat slightly (just below medium heat). Fry, stirring often, till the oil begins to separate from the spice paste. You may need to sprinkle water occasionally to keep the masala from burning and sticking to the pan.
- Add the meat and fry till it starts to brown. Now add the chopped tomatoes, coconut milk and 1 cup of hot water. Season with salt to taste and stir well. Cook till the meat is soft. There should be a fair quantity of thick gravy at this stage. If required add hot water to maintain the amount of gravy as you cook.
- When the meat is done, turn off the heat and the dish is ready to serve right away. It tastes great with plain boiled rice or Parathas!