Margarita's International Recipes
Lamb Pasanda has been my favorite Indian dish ever since I discovered it in a long-gone Indian restaurant in Oakland. They served a variant of the dish that had raisins, which gave an overall sweet flavor to the dish. It was delicious. Since then, I've only occasionally been able to find lamb pasanda at Indian restaurants, and none have been as enticing as that original dish. So it was with a bit of apprehension, and a lot of hope, that I approached this recipe.
Lamb Pasanda is an ancient dish. There are mentions of it as far ago as the 12th century, but it became well known in the courts of the Mughal emperors - including Hyderabad, which was conquered by the Mughals in the 17th century . Pasanda means "favorite" and it refers to the choice cuts of meat used to make it - leg of lamb is standard. Nowadays, pasanda is also a favorite in Pakistan, where it's often cooked with beef instead of lamb.
To make this dish, I combined several recipes. Most call for ginger-garlic paste, but as I don't keep that around I simply pureed garlic and ginger in equal amounts. They also call for roasting your own peanuts and/or cashews (I decided to use both) - but I just used roasted nuts instead. I decided to use tamarind concentrate because I already had it, but some recipes called for lemon juice instead. I must say, however, that I really appreciated the level of acidity that tamarind added to the stew, and I'm planning to use it more frequently.
In all, this dish did not measure up to my memory, or to the other curries that we enjoy at our favorite Indian restaurant. But it was the best curry I have personally made and both my husband and I enjoyed eating it - and enjoyed the leftovers.
- 2 lbs boneless leg of lamb, cubed
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped, divided
- 1/2 cup mint leaves, divided
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. pureed fresh ginger
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. pureed fresh garlic
- 2 tsp salt, divided
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 3 cups plain yogurt
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- 1 Tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- 1 large red onion, sliced
- 1/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
- 1/4 cup unsalted roasted cashews
- 1-4 green peppers, diced
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp tamarind pulp or lemon juice.
Place lamb cubes in a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup cilantro, 1/4 cup mint leaves, pureed ginger and garlic, 1 1/2 tsp salt, turmeric powder and yogurt. Mix well and marinade for at least 1/2 hour.
In an ungreased skillet, toast coconut over medium-high heat until light brown. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor or blender. Using the same pan, roast the almond sliver and transfer to the same bowl. Repeat with the coriander, cumin and sesame seeds, also transferring them to the bowl. Add some oil to the skillet, turn heat to medium, and add onion slices. Saute until golden, around 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer onions to the bowl.
Add the roasted peanuts and cashews to the food processor bowl and process until you have a smooth paste. Set aside.
Heat 1/2 cup of oil in a cooking pot over medium heat. Add the lamb and the marinade and cook, covered for 20 minutes.
Stir in the nuts/onion puree and cook, covered, for another 20 minutes, stirring often.
Add 1 cup water, remaining mint and cilantro, 1/2 tsp of salt, cided green pepper, garam masala and tamarind pulp or lemon juice. Stir well. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 10 more minutes, stirring often.
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