11 November 2014
Before I left Fort Collins for Denver, CO (and then Denver for Durham NC- but that’s another story!) I stopped into the Old Town Spice Shop for some whole star anise. On a whim, I picked up some garam masala and mild yellow curry powder (since it was on sale). Later on when I got home, I experienced caveat emptor as I realized I would probably never use the stuff since I pretty much hate the flavor profile of curry.
I took my first tentative steps toward Indian cuisine with Chai tea, having fun with the spice mixture and making my own blend. And when we made the move, those particular spices went into cold storage and I didn’t see them for over a year, until I opened them up here in Durham.
Since I value trying new things, especially to break up the monotony of dinner dishes, I was inspired by the resurfacing of the curry powder and when I saw lamb at Costco. I thought, what about a nice lamb curry with leftover risotto. But it was lamb chops, and I wanted ground lamb, to do a lettuce wrap. I went to Whole Foods tonight and got half a pound of ground lamb, along with some fresh ginger root to boost the flavor of the chutney I planned to make. Chutney was first: I had some apple cinnamon preserves in the pantry, so I added a clove of chopped garlic, about ½ tablespoon of grated ginger, and one rib of jalapeno, chopped fine, to a hot saucepan with a teaspoon of olive oil. Then I added in some cider vinegar, carefully avoiding a vinegar steam facial . In went 1/3 cup of preserves followed by about an 1/8 of a cup of ginger soda (but apple juice would be nice here too, or hard apple cider) and 1/8 of a cup of water. Heated over medium until it bubbled, then simmered on low until the lamb filling was ready.
For the lamb curry: diced a medium sweet onion and sautéed with olive oil for 5 minutes, then seasoned onion with salt and pepper. Added in the ground lamb and browned, adding about a half tablespoon of curry powder halfway through. Deglazed the pan with a splash of red wine, then added in my leftover cup of cooked mushroom risotto along with about a ¼ cup of water. Let it simmer, covered, on low for about ten minutes, then turn heat off and let it rest until ready to serve. I served it on butter lettuce leaves, garnished with cilantro and pea shoots and a drizzle of chutney.
That whim of so long ago finally paid off, with another dinner we can put into rotation. Result: success!