In common with many of you I was glued to Rick Stein‘s TV Series about India and took the first opportunity that I had to purchase a copy of the book that accompanied the series. Well when I say first opportunity, I waited until Asda (other supermarkets also discount) had it on special offer (Sorry Rick). A couple of years ago I spent quite a bit of time working and living in Hyderabad which is in Andra Pradesh and famed for biryani. Somehow I seemed to miss eating or even seeing all of this delicious food that Rick was getting his hands on, but I ate enough to pretty much stop my enjoyment of going to get an Indian meal in the UK as it just didn’t seem to be the same. Watching his show, however whet my appetite and reinvigorated my desires to get back into the kitchen to rustle up some Indian delights.
The Lamb Dopiaza that he describes in his book (page 238 to be precise) is a true one pot wonder. Not only is it all cooked in just the one pot, but you just stick all the ingredients into that same pot at the start and cook slowly for 2 hours or so until it is ready. I am starting right at the end here by showing you the finished article on the plate and in the pot, but perhaps I should step back for a moment and just describe how easy it is to prepare this dish, and yes it is worth making it and reading on.
The Lamb (about 500g) gets put into the pot, no browning just straight in there to wait for all of its friends from the Dopiaza party to join it. In India they probably would be doing this dish with goat, I was trying to get mutton, but we got this older lamb (perhaps on the verge of its mutton birthday) at the Covered market in Oxford.
You need a whole lot of onions, it’s supposed to be a kilo but I just cut up everything that I had and it was about the same. Most of the time I would expect to be cooking these down a bit, perhaps until soft and lightly colored. No in this recipe you just throw them into the big pot.
Most of the preparation to create the flavor is basically a bit of chopping and a bit of measuring out from the pantry. On the board above we have 15g of chopped ginger, about 6-7 cloves of chopped garlic, salt, whole coriander seed, whole cumin seed, cloves, whole black pepper seed, cinnamon sticks, and some green cardomon pods. There is no grinding, no roasting to release the flavours, no softly cooking the garlic or ginger, nope in this recipe you just tip the whole lot into that big pot.
Apart from all those bits and pieces, there was just some turmeric, natural yoghurt, Kashmiri chilli, some ghee (or butter) , and water to add to the pot. A big old mix up, then heat it up to the boil, reduce to a simmer, put a lid on and sit down to wait for a couple of hours. That is really all that there is too it. Sure you can fish out bits of uncooked lamb and onion on numerous occasions just to prove and clarify that it really does take 2 hours to cook, or you could make some naan or similar while you are waiting, I did both of those, but I spent most of the time feeling hungry and sniffing the aromatic air in the kitchen and all over the house, and probably up all the way up the avenue as well.
It really is worth the wait, and the minimal efforts required to prepare it. It was nothing like any Dopiaza that I have had from any Indian Resturant in the UK. It was fairly hot from the Kashmiri chilli, but not too hot to distract you from the rest of the flavor. The onions which having been cooked slowly release a super sweetness into the dish, the yogurt added a nice sharp almost citric tartness. The lamb was just so tender it was falling apart. You don’t really need any rice, a naan or other Indian bread would suffice. I did add in a good pound of mushrooms with about an hour to go (that wasn’t in the recipe in the book) and they cooked down absorbing all the spice flavor as they did. If I was a vegetarian then I think I would be happy enough making a Mushroom Dopiaza instead. I am sure that you could make this with Chicken, but I think that the longer cooking time really gave time to let all the spices marry together and develop the sauce or gravy as they prefer to call it in India (yes Rick we were listening).
I am not going to reproduce Rick’s Recipe from the book (without permission) I have probably given enough away already. If you cant work it out from the pictures above, well you can always buy a copy I suppose or (not recommended) have a look at the book in the shop. It is available from all good stores and some not so good as well I imagine. He does give us a lot of the recipes from the book on the BBC website so check those out.
All I can say is that it was really easy, and I would say way better than any takeaway that you will buy. Ok you do need a good pantry, and it is worth building one up slowly as it opens up a whole world of flavor. Check more of Rick Stein’s recipes out on his website, and if you are passing my house and you smell something Indian in origin, well I am probably reading his book Rick Stein’s India which you can buy on his website