Sunday, January 11, 2015

Indian Spiced Lamb Chops with Garbanzos

Indian Spiced Lamb Chops with Garbanzos
A few months ago, I bought a whole butchered lamb from someone locally. Not too far out from all the holidays, I did not yet really make too much use of the meat, except for ground and the packets marked "chislic", a local term for a stew type meat that is often fried. I got out some lamb chops yesterday, since I had not yet seen them and how they were cut. This is always a surprise when you are faced with locally butchered meat. One never knows how it will be. These lamb chops were cut thin, at barely a half inch. They would probably have been better left as a rack, but that's okay. 

Tamicon Tamarind Concentrate
When making lamb, I am always inclined to think of Indian spices first. I don't know why, precisely. This is what I had in my mind when I got the chops from the freezer in the first place, but no recipe specific in mind. Just an idea - but that's always a great place to start. First off, what flavor components did I want? Certainly garlic and ginger. Coriander, cumin and cardamom seeds seemed logical. Chile of some kind. While we don't eat very hot spicy foods, a little bit is fine. I wanted to work with a sweet and sour element, sort of combining the concept of chutney sweetness with a sour note of tamarind. Tamarind paste is the one ingredient likely not found in everyone's refrigerator. I am not sure how to advise a substitute for tamarind. It is sour, but not like lemon. Possibly the use of some lemon or lime juice with some of the zest would suffice. The "Tamicon" tamarind concentrate (thick paste) shown at right is my favorite brand. It is very thick and concentrated. A little goes a long way.

As I started getting a hazy vision of a recipe taking shape, I thought about other common elements, such as onion and green pepper. Check. I wanted to use garbanzos. Did I want to use coconut milk? Maybe. I also thought more about the "sweet" part of this equation. I had a jar of orange marmalade. I thought I would use a little of that to give the sweetness, along with some orange juice. As a last thought, I added some dried apricots to the list of ingredients.

Indian Spiced Lamb Chops with Garbanzos
Now that I had more or less a fairly well rounded idea of the pieces and parts of the recipe, I sat down to think about how to put this together. If the lamb chops had been very thick, I would have started them in a fry pan and moved to the oven to finish. As it was, this was totally unnecessary. They were completely done in 8 minutes. I did, however, use a marinade on them while I prepared the sauce. All in all, we both absolutely loved the dish. The sauce alone would have been an excellent meal with rice for anyone who does not eat meat. It was rich, hearty and satisfying. I had only 4 very thin lamb chops in the package I opened, so it served my husband and me just fine. the sauce part would have easily served 3 to 4, so if one doubled the amount of meat, the sauce amount could stay the same.

Indian Spiced Sweet & Sour Lamb Chops with Garbanzos

Serves 2 - 4

1 pound of lamb chops (4 chops)
Indian Spiced Lamb Chops with Garbanzos
ghee or oil for frying

1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger, divided
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh garlic, divided 
1 tablespoon Tandoor Spice Mix (can substitute Garam Masala)
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 to 1 teaspoon Indian powdered chile or Cayenne, according to taste
oil to moisten, if needed

1 teaspoon coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon cardamom seed
2 teaspoons ghee or oil
1 small onion, in large cubes
half the garlic/ginger/salt mixture from marinade
1 teaspoon Garam Masala
2 - 3 tablespoons orange marmalade, to taste
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate / paste

dash Cayenne, optional
1 small green pepper, diced
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup dried apricots, in small dice
1/2 cup coconut milk, optional

First prepare the marinade. A mortar and pestle are ideal for pounding together the garlic, ginger and salt. If this tool is not available, press the salt, garlic and ginger with the back of a spoon in a small bowl. Once well mashed into a paste, divide the mixture in half and set one half aside for the sauce.

To the remaining garlic ginger paste, add the Tandoor Spice, mustard powder powdered chile and mix, adding in some oil if needed to make a paste. Slather this paste liberally over the lamb chops. Set them aside while making the sauce:

In a dry skillet set over medium high heat, toast the coriander, cumin and cardamom seeds until very fragrant. Pour them onto a plate to cool. Once cooled, grind them finely in a spice grinder and set aside. In the same skillet, heat the ghee or oil and gently saute the onion until it is golden. Add in the reserved garlic ginger paste from the marinade, along with the toasted and ground spices and the Garam Masala and stir well until the mixture is very fragrant. Add in the marmalade and orange juice, tamarind paste , stirring until well dissolved. Add the green pepper, garbanzos and apricots and let the mixture simmer on low heat while preparing the meat. If desired, add in the coconut milk just before serving, off heat, until it dissolves.

In  another skillet, over medium heat, add in more ghee or oil as needed and saute the lamb chops quickly, about 3 to 4 minutes per side without turning, allowing them to form a crust. Once done, move the pan off the heat and cover, to let them rest while finishing any prep. Serve the dish with rice.

I placed saffron rice in a large bowl, set two lamb chops on each serving and spooned the sauce over all. It was absolutely scrumptious!

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.