Spiced Lamb Curry with Chickpeas, Green Coconut Sambal and Tomato-and-Red-Onion Pickle
There is, I have to admit, some work involved in this one, but I absolutely promise the depth and flavour of fresh coconut is really worth that bit of extra time. If you're serving this to guests, the good thing is that all the work can be done in advance, so all you have to do is cook some plain basmati rice to accompany it.
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You will also need a lidded, flameproof casserole with a capacity of 6 pints (3.5 litres).
This recipe is taken from How to Cook Book Three.
First soak the chickpeas. If it is convenient, soak them overnight in 4 pints (2.25 litres) of cold water. If you haven't the time for this, simply bring them up to the boil (using the same quantity of water), boil for 10 minutes and leave them to soak for two hours. Then, chop the onions, garlic and bird eye chillies quite small in a food processor, then heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in the casserole and cook them gently for 5 minutes to soften. Now heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan and when it's nice and hot, quickly brown the cubes of meat. (You will have to do this in about three batches.)
Next, sprinkle the ginger and the spices over the onion mixture in the casserole and stir to soak the juice, then cook gently for 2 minutes. Now pre-heat the oven to gas mark 2, 300°F (150°C). To prepare the coconut, first push a thick skewer into the three holes in the top, then drain out the milk and reserve it for the recipe.
Next, place the coconut in a plastic bag and sit it on a hard surface – a stone floor or an outside paving stone. Then give it a hefty whack with a hammer – it won't be that difficult to break. Now remove the pieces from the bag and, using a cloth to protect your hands, prise the tip of a kitchen knife between the nut and the shell. You should find you can force the whole piece out in one go. After that, discard the shell and take off the inner skin using a potato peeler. Once you have rinsed it, the coconut will now be ready to use. The best way to grate coconut flesh is with the fine grating disc of a food processor, but a hand grater will do the job, too. Grate it, reserving half for the sambal.
Next, pour the coconut milk into a measuring jug and make it up to 1½ pints (850 ml) with the chickpea-soaking liquid. Slowly pour this into the casserole, stirring all the time. Next, stir in the grated fresh and creamed coconut and then transfer the browned meat to the casserole, along with the chickpeas. Finally, season with salt and freshly milled black pepper, then bring everything up to simmering point, cover and cook in the centre of the oven for 2 hours.
To make the sambal, first dry-roast the cumin seeds. To do this, place the seeds in a small frying-pan over a medium heat and stir and toss them around for 1-2 minutes, or until they begin to look toasted, small fragrant and start to jump in the pan. Now use a pestle and mortar and crush them to a powder. Next, grate the shallots using the fine grater blade of the food processor, then remove them to a bowl. Process the remaining ingredients, this time with the chopper blade, until they are all finely chopped. Add this mixture, along with the cumin and the reserved grated coconut, to the shallots.
Next, make the tomato-and-red-onion pickle. First, skin the tomatoes. To do this, place them in a heatproof bowl and pour boiling water on to them. Leave them for exactly a minute, then remove them, slip off their skins (protecting your hands with a cloth if they're hot), deseed and thinly slice them. Then, all you do is mix the tomatoes with the onion, coriander, lime juice and chilli powder in a small bowl and set the mixture aside to marinate for at least 15 minutes.
Serve the sambal as an accompaniment to the curry, along with the tomato-and-red-onion pickle and some plain basmati rice that has been cooked with a cinnamon stick and bay leaf.
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