I’ve adapted this recipe from Atul Kochhar’s wonderful ‘Curries Of The World’ book. His introductory note to this very mild, but tasty, Sumatran Lamb Kurma, goes: ‘The korma, or kurma, is thought to have originated in India but such is Asia’s history that dishes have travelled and been adopted by other countries, where they often take on a new life.
‘So, while this seems to be an Indian-inspired recipe…it is also characteristically Indonesian because of the lemongrass, as well as the coconut, Whatever its origins, it all adds up to a fantastic korma.’
1 kg lean boneless leg of lamb, chopped into chunks
6 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee
1 onion, finely chopped
4-6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
2 tsp finely chopped lemongrass
5cm piece of cinnamon stick
1 star anise
2 bay leaves
400g potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
250ml coconut milk
For the spice powder
Quarter tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
4 green cardamom pods
10 black peppercorns
1. First make the spice powder. Lightly toast all the spices, one at a time, in a dry pan until fragrant. When they are cool, grind together to a fine powder in a spice mill or coffee grinder.
2. Mix together the lamb, spice powder and some salt in a bowl. Set aside in a cool place for 20 mins.
3. Heat the oil or ghee in a pan and saute the lamb for 4-5 mins until lightly browned. Use a slotted spoon to remove the lamb and set aside, then add the onion to the pan and sautre for 5 mins until softened.
4. Add the garlic, ginger and lemongrass and saute for 2-3 mins. Remove the mixture with a slotted spoon and keep aside.
5. Discard the oil left in the pan. Return the lamb and onion mixture to the pan. Add the cinnamon stick, star anise, bay leaves and potatoes. Pour in enough hot water just to cover the ingredients. Bring to the boil over a high heat, then cover and simmer on the lowest possible heat for 45 mins.
6. Remove the lid and add the coconut milk. Add a little more hot water, too. Simmer, covered, for a further 15-20 mins or until the lamb and potatoes are perfectly cooked.
7. Adjust the seasoning and discard the cinnamon stick and bay leaves. Serve with rice, naan bread or chapatis.