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Indian, Moroccan cuisines share spices in common

Cumin, coriander, cloves and cardamom crept into my preparation of the recipe previously posted to this blog.

I couldn’t help it. Those flavors, on my palate, just go with lamb and now with goat, since I purchased a whole one this fall. The recipe’s provenance was Morocco, which does combine those spices — along with some others — in its Ras el hanout. Those same spices also position a cook for preparing any number of Indian dishes.

Almonds are another ingredient the two cuisines share in common. The nuts are used to thicken the sauce in Moroccan Lamb With Apricots, Almonds and Mint. They’re ground with the whole, toasted spices in the following recipe from “Madhur Jaffrey’s Spice Kitchen.”

Because I have the almonds on hand, the spices and a freezer full of meat, this recipe is a likely candidate for cooking more of my goat. Recipes testers reassure readers that beef stew meat is an acceptable substitute for the lamb shoulder or stew meat listed here. The taste will be different but still excellent. And don’t fret over authenticity — beef is eaten in some regions of India.

Lamb in an Almond Sauce

8 whole cloves

1 to 2 dried hot red chiles

1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

8 cardamom pods

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1 tablespoon unsweetened, dried, shredded coconut

3 tablespoons coarsely chopped blanched almonds

1 1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds (1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon ground)

1/3 nutmeg (scant 1 teaspoon ground)

1 (1/2-inch) piece of mace (1/2 teaspoon ground)

6 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 (1-inch) cube fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 pounds boneless meat from shoulder of lamb, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 medium onions, peeled and finely minced

3 tablespoons plain yogurt

1/2 cup canned tomato sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

In a heavy skillet over medium heat, combine the cloves, chiles, peppercorns, cardamom pods, cumin seeds, coconut, almonds, coriander seeds, nutmeg and mace (if using ground coriander, nutmeg or mace, leave those spices out). Stir until all spices are lightly toasted, for about 5 minutes (at this point, add the ground coriander, nutmeg or mace and stir for a few more seconds). Let spices cool a bit in a separate bowl, then grind finely in a spice grinder, blender or with a mortar and pestle. Set aside.

Combine the garlic, ginger and turmeric with 1/2 cup water in a blender and blend until smooth.

Heat the oil in a wide, heavy pot over fairly high heat. When hot, put in 7 or 8 pieces of the meat at a time to brown. When each batch is brown on all sides, remove with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Continue to brown all meat this way and set aside.

Put the onions into same pot and cook over high heat, stirring and scraping up juices for about 5 minutes, or until they turn dark in spots. Lower heat to medium and add paste from blender, as well as ground spices. Stir-fry for 5 minutes, gradually adding the yogurt as you do so, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Add the tomato sauce and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes.

Add meat and all accumulated juices to sauce. Add the salt and stir. Bring to a boil, cover, lower heat and simmer gently for 1 hour. Stir a few times as it cooks.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Recipe adapted by Tribune News Service from “Madhur Jaffrey’s Spice Kitchen,” by Madhur Jaffrey.

Tribune News Service photo