Lamb & Spinach Curry

Todays dinner started off in my head earlier in the day as a fresh fish with salad. However, as I left work on my way to the supermarket I was caught in an almighty downpouring of rain – dripping wet and cold I stumbled into the shop no longer wanting something light and fresh. I wanted something warming and rich – something guaranteed to cheer me up. This curry did just that – a delicious, glossy sauce, bursting with complex flavours from the warm tang of cinnamon to the fragrant cardamom and clove. It’s a fabulous moderately spiced curry – perfect for a cold, wet winters day.

200ml vegetable oil
4 onions
5cm piece fresh ginger (diced)
6 garlic cloves (peeled)
4 cardamom pods
6 black peppercorns
3 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
2 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
2 teaspoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 large tomato (diced)
1kg Lamb (1″ cube)
5 heaped tablespoons Greek style yoghurt
200g English spinach (trimmed)
1 cup fresh coriander
1 small lemon (juice of)

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium/high heat until hot. Cut 2 of the onions into thin slices and add to the pan. Let the onions sizzle for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium/low and let them sizzle for a further 20 minutes, stirring regularly until the onions are dark brown and crispy. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Retain 4 tablespoons of the oil and add to a large saucepan and set aside. Strain the remaining oil into a container. It’s great as a substitute for oil in any other curry to bump up the flavour.

Chop the 2 remaining onions into rough pieces and add to a food processor along with the garlic and ginger. Blend into a smooth paste.

Heat the saucepan with the oil over a moderate heat until hot. Add the onion paste and sizzle for 5 minutes until the paste loses its raw smell. Add the cardamom, peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, chilli powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, salt and garam masala and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the lamb and tomato and stir over a high heat for 4 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of yoghurt and cook for 1-2 minutes. Repeat the process adding 1 tablespoon of yoghurt at a time, cooking for 1-2 minutes in between until you’ve used all the yoghurt. Add 300ml water and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Simmer gently for 1½ hours until the lamb is tender.

Meanwhile, wash the spinach leaves under running cold water. Don’t shake them dry, just add them to a pan over a moderate heat and cook until wilted. Drain over a sieve then place in a food processor along with the fresh coriander and pulse into a thick, chunky paste. Set aside.

Once the lamb has cooked for 1½ hours, add the spinach and 1/2 the crispy onions and stir well. Let this cook for 10 further minutes then remove from the heat. Squeeze in half the lemon juice, then squeeze in more, a little at a time until you’ve reached the desired sweetness. Adjust the salt if you think it needs more.

Sprinkle with the remaining crispy onions and more fresh coriander alongside a fresh chutney, raita salad along with some Indian breads.

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