Magazine article Sunset

From a Mogul Emperor to Marin County

Magazine article Sunset

From a Mogul Emperor to Marin County

Article excerpt

INDIAN-BORN HARISH LAL hails from Delhi, where he trained to become a chef, a trade he now plies in Mill Valley, California. His repertoire of dishes includes some favorites handed down from a precolonial Mogul emperor famous for his interest in subtle and complex dishes. Shahi Korma, a delectable, spicy lamb stew thickened with ground cashews, stems from this source.

Chef Lal's stew is nicely exotic even without the seasonings he has made optional for your convenience. But he suggests that cooks willing to trek to a well-stocked Indian food store (his favorite--in Berkeley, California--is as good as ones back home, he reports) will find it rewarding to make the dish as recorded by the emperor. Items that you may not have on hand are garam masala, a spice blend with many variations (pick one that smells good to you); methi, or fenugreek (a seed, ground and often included in curry powder blends and in Moroccan dishes); and aromatic black cardamom, which is used whole.

Shahi Korma

2       large (about 1 lb. total) onions
1       clove garlic
1       tablespoon salad oil
1       tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/2     teaspoon cardamom seed
1/2     teaspoon cumin seed
1/4     teaspoon black peppercorns
2       whole cloves
1       to 1 1/2 pounds boned and fat-trimmed lamb shoulder,
cut into about 1-inch cubes
1/4     cup golden raisins
1       tablespoon garam masala or curry powder
1 1/2   teaspoons methi (ground fenugreek, optional)
1       whole black cardamom pod (optional)
1/4     teaspoon saffron threads (optional)
1       cup unflavored yogurt
1/2     cup whipping cream
1/2     cup salted, roasted cashews
6       cups hot cooked rice
        About 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro (coriander)

Chop onions and put in a 5- to 6-quart pan with garlic, salad oil, ginger, cardamom seed, cumin seed, peppercorns, and cloves. Cover and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are limp, about 15 minutes. Uncover and turn heat to high. Stir until onions are slightly browned, about 15 minutes longer.

In a blender or food processor, whirl onion mixture until smoothly pureed. Return to pan and add lamb, raisins, garam masala, methi, black cardamom pod, saffron, yogurt, and cream. Bring to boil on high heat; cover and simmer gently until meat is very tender when pierced, about 50 minutes.

As meat cooks, whirl about 1/4 cup of the cashews into a fine powder in a blender or food processor. …

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