Balti Lamb Phal

This curry can be summed up in three words. Oh. My. God. Those three words have a dual meaning too. Oh my god: this recipe never ends, and Oh my god: this is one of the spiciest thing I’ve ever eaten. I undertook this epic recipe mainly because I wanted something extraordinary for dinner tonight. I got what I wanted. The dish is absolutely amazing – a pungent, complex and colourful dish that delivers a mighty punch, absolutely brimming over with heat and flavour. It’s not for the feint hearted but it’s one of the best curries I’ve cooked in a long time. I think this dish often gets a bad rap as it’s often eaten in restaurants by noisy lager louts at 2am trying to impress their mates. The dish itself shouldn’t be written off as a novelty. It’s got a kick, but it’s got so much more going for it too!

The one downside to making it for the first time is the sheer faffery and processes that goes into its production. Some 3 pastes have to be produced with a hellish role call of ingredients but once made you have enough leftover to make another 5-6 curries. Once the pastes are made the curry is actually very simple to bring together. I would say it’s a great curry to make when you have nothing better to do. Can you handle the heat?

For the curry:
700g parboiled lamb* (See recipe below)
1 tablespoon ghee
3 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
3-4 teaspoons extra hot chilli powder
2 tablespoons tandoori masala paste** (See recipe below)
250ml balti base sauce*** (See recipe Below)
2 tomatoes (peeled, seeded and chopped)
6 green chillies (slit and left whole)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves (chopped)

Heat the ghee in a wok until just hot. Add the garlic and chilli powder and stir for 30 seconds. Add the tandoori masala paste and simmer for 1 minute. Add the parboiled lamb and stir fry for 3 minutes then add the balti base sauce, 1/4 cup water, the chillies, salt and vinegar and cook for 20 minutes. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, sprinkle with coriander and serve immediately.

It’s quite a dry curry so is perfect served with naan, roti or chapati, but works equally well with rice. I also served mine with a cooling side of yoghurt raita with cucumber, coriander and radish which was a good idea!

If you make it let me know how you enjoyed it…
Things to make in advance:

*Recipe for parboiled Lamb:
700g lamb meat (cubed)

Parboilled lamb spice mix:
100ml white vinegar
100ml vegetable oil
*4 tablespoons coriander seeds
*2 tablespoons cumin seeds
*3cm cinnamon stick
*2 teaspoons fennel seeds
*2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
*2 teaspoons cardamom seeds
*1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
*6 cloves
*5 bay leaves
*20 curry leaves
4 teaspoons turmeric
4 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons ginger powder
1 teaspoon chilli powder

Place all the whole spices* into a hot dry pan and dry fry until aromatic, place in a spice grinder and grind until smooth. Combine with the remaining spices in a bowl then mix in the vinegar and oil.

In a saucepan, combine 4 tablespoons of the spice mix with the lamb and 400ml water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the meat for 40 minutes. Remove the meat and keep cooking liquid. You can use this in other curries instead of adding water.

**Tandoori Masala Paste
2 tablespoons ground coriander
5 teaspoons ground cumin
5 teaspoons garlic powder
5 teaspoons paprika
4 teaspoons mango powder
6 teaspoons dried mint
4 teaspoons powdered red food colouring
1 teaspoon powdered yellow food colouring
3 teaspoons chilli powder
2 teaspoons salt
pinch ground cinnamon
pinch ground allspice
175ml white vinegar
175ml vegetable oil

Combine all the ingredients together to form a double cream-like consistency. Freeze the remaining paste in small bags of 4 tablespoon quantities for later use.

**Balti Base Sauce:
200ml milk
200ml water
2 tablespoons ghee
3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
225g onion (finely chopped)
110g carrot (finely chopped)
50g celery (finely chopped)
50g white radish (finely chopped)
4 bay leaves
10 cardamoms
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2cm piece fresh ginger (grated)

Heat the milk with the bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon, fennel seeds, turmeric and ginger. Simmer for 15 minutes then pass through a sieve retaining the milk and discarding the spices. Place the remaining ingredients into the milk and simmer for 30 minutes. Place in a food processor and blend into a creamy paste, like single cream. Add a little water if necessary. Freeze the remainder of the sauce in a bag for later use.

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