Lamb Peratal – Whip it UP!
Lamb in luscious curry
Lamb peratal is perfect for the Deepavali festive meal. Peratal, which means dry curry with luscious thick gravy in Tamil, is popular in Indian cooking. It is slow-cooked to allow the flavours to develop into a full-bodied wallop of savoury piquancy. Ask your butcher to chop meat into bite-sized chunks across the grain to avoid tough meat.
Total Time: 3¼ hours
Serves: 3-4 persons
500g lamb, leg meat with bone
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons meat curry powder
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon ground fennel
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ginger and garlic paste*
1 tablespoon yoghurt
1 teaspoon salt
C: Spices & Aromatics
3 tablespoons oil
1 large red onion, peeled and sliced
6 small red shallots, peeled and sliced
2 cinnamon sticks
4 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon black pepper, crushed
2 star anises
2 sprigs curry leaves, stems removed
3 Indian bay leaves, optional
1 tomato, roughly chopped
1 green chilli, sliced
1 teaspoon ground chilli
Water as needed
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 fresh chillies: 1 red and 1 green, cut lengthwise
Fresh coriander leaves, chopped
1. Marinate meat with B ingredients. Leave for two hours or refrigerate overnight for flavours to develop.
2. Heat oil in a wok or saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sliced onion and shallots, followed by dry spices. Stir fry until onion and shallots are soft and translucent.
3. Add curry and bay leaves followed by chopped tomato and chilli. Cook until tomato becomes mushy. Give it a good stir.
4. Put in lamb together with chilli powder. Mix well. Bring it to the boil. Cover saucepan. Reduce heat to low. Allow meat to gently simmer, adding small amounts of water when it begins to dry up. Stir occasionally to prevent meat from catching onto base of saucepan.
5. After 3 hours, meat becomes tender and starts to fall off the bone. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
6. Garnish with fresh chilli and coriander leaves.
Peratal goes well with idli, thosai, naan, roti prata/canai or just steaming hot rice. Serve with sides like dhall curry or rasam, stirfried turmeric cabbage and cucumber raita.
7. Alternatively, cook curry for 1 hour on the stove over medium heat. Using a slotted spoon, scoop lamb into an oven-safe casserole pot. Put it inside a tray, then transfer to the oven. Gently pour hot boiling water filling one third of the tray. Cook at 160°C for 2-2½ hours. Stir meat every 30 minutes to prevent it from drying up too fast.
TIPS: Leg meat of lamb is ideal for curries and casseroles because it is full of flavour and has little fat. Cook curry 1-2 days earlier for full flavours to bloom overnight in the fridge.
*Ginger-garlic paste is equal amounts of fresh ginger and garlic (1½ teaspoons each) pounded together into a smooth paste.
TECHNIQUE: Always fry onions before pan-roasting spices – this prevents spices from getting scorched and turning bitter. Roasting spices draws out earthy aromas which in turn enhances the taste of the dish.
Photos: Victoria van Bennekum