A sumptuous spicy, rich brown aromatic lamb & lentil curry is the answer to all your prayers this week as we come to an end of the holy month of Ramadan fasting and celebrate with Eid-Ul-Fitr!
Firstly, Eid Mubarak to all my lovely friends celebrating, may the Almighty bless our Universe with a virus-free world, better health and peace of mind above all!
Dal Gosht or meat combined with lentils is a delightful fusion of the two proteins with its origins in Mughal cuisine. It is in the early 15th century when the dry grilled meat & nuts-eating nomadic Mongols or central Asian Muslim rulers invaded the subcontinent, that they were first exposed to lentils, spices and water-based gravies. It is around this time that they began to be known as the Mughals and developed their own unique blend of food known as Mughlai cuisine. The Lahori Dal Gosht from Pakistan is probably a creation from those times.
An ingenious wholesome blend of marinated lamb & chana dal or split Bengal gram lentil, whole fragrant spices and a savoury base of ginger-garlic & tomatoes essentially, it is today further blended with few other lentils & bottle gourd for easier digestion.
Didn’t you notice a lot of similarities with the ever-popular Parsi Dhansak recipe of the migrating Persians who settled in Gujarat or the traditional Khichda & Haleem recipes both of which have Arabic roots? All unique and exquisite blends of meat and lentils in various ways.
You may have noticed a lot of meat recipes usually commencing with the meat requiring to be slowly browned in hot oil with a whole lot of spices such as cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf, cardamom. To this a whole lot of onions, ginger garlic and chillies are added and further browned. As the juices from the meat are released and evaporate, the spices start to stick at the bottom. This is perhaps the most laborious part of cooking meat and is known as Bhuna, the process of roasting. A few drops of water /curds is all it takes to prevent burning, but the flavour & fragrance that the meat imbibes from the slow roasting & frying is inimitable & highly rewarding! Cannot ever be compared with quick fried meat.
Another way of cooking meat is allowing it to marinate in a mixture of curd, ginger-garlic & spices for a few hours, allowing it to tenderise & absorb the robust flavours before cooking it in a slow oven with coals. I have tried to show you this style of cooking in the Amritsari Fish Tikka Tacos recipe.
It is amazing to learn how every recipe has so many interesting stories to tell. Of its origins, the climatic conditions and geographical locations, their fusion due to varying historical influences upon the land, the incorporation of locally available ingredients further accentuating and developing new variations of the same dish. Indeed, food and history go hand in hand!
Recipe for Lahori Dal Gosht – Meat n’ Lentil Curry
Ingredients (For 4-5 Persons)
To pressure cook
- ¼ cup split pigeon pea lentils / toor dal
- ½ cup split Bengal gram / chana dal
- ¼ cup split red lentils / masoor dal
- Salt to taste
- 3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 3 cups water
To marinate meat for 30 mins
- 750 grams mutton with bone, cut into 2inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder / dhania powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder / jeera powder
- 2 teaspoons red chilli powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon fennel seed powder / crushed saunf
- 1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 inch stick cinnamon
- 8-10 peppercorns
- 1 star anise (if available)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 black cardamoms or 3 green cardamoms
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 2 large onions, cut into juliennes
- 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
- 1 large potato, cubed / 200gms bottlegourd
- 2-3 green chillies, slit
- 2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 handful fresh coriander leaves, chopped
- 5-7 mint leaves, chopped
- 3 tablespoons meat masala
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon coriander powder
- 3 tablespoons fried onions (optional)
- 2 tablespoons tamarind pulp
- ¼ cup beaten curd (skip if vegan)
- 1 teaspoon dry fenugreek / crushed kasuri methi
- Wash all 3 lentils together thoroughly with sufficient water 2-3 times then soak for 30 minutes, drain.
- Boil in a pressure cooker for 4-5 whistles along with 3 cups water, salt, turmeric powder, crushed garlic cloves and 1 tbsp oil.
- To marinate, take mutton pieces in a large plate, add salt, turmeric, red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, coarsely crushed saunf, garlic- ginger paste and 1 tsp lemon juice and mix well. Set aside to marinate for 30mins-1 hour.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pressure cooker, add bay leaves followed by all other spices and let them change colour.
- Add sliced onions and green chillies and sauté until light brown.
- Add ginger-garlic paste, 1 tbsp water and sauté well until the raw aroma goes away.
- Add marinated mutton pieces, mix and sauté on high heat for 3-4 minutes or till the mutton turns golden brown.
- Add chopped tomatoes, beaten curd and 1 tbsp ghee (optional). Sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add meat masala, cumin & coriander powder, coriander-mint leaves and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
- Add fried onions if using, chopped potatoes / bottle gourd and 1 cup water.
- Pressure-cook for 3-4 whistles or until 80 percent cooked. Allow pressure to release by itself.
- Add boiled and well-mashed / pureed dals, kasuri methi, tamarind pulp & mix, cover and cook on medium flame another 5-7 minutes until fully cooked and well blended.
- Transfer into a serving bowl. Garnish with coriander-mint leaves & fried onions. Serve hot with jeera rice or pulao & onion raita.
- This recipe can also be made with 600gms Chicken and 300gms bottle gourd, instead of mutton and potatoes. Pressure cook for only 2 whistles in that case.
- If you have dairy issues please skip the beaten curds and ghee totally.