Spiced Lamb Chops with a Fenugreek Sauce
This elegant, blow-your-socks-off-delicious first-course curry is sure to set a high standard for the meal’s remaining courses. Fortunately nowadays one can purchase racks of lamb at most supermarkets. If you do not want the hassle of cutting your own chops from the rib rack, have the butcher do it for you. This is a great curry to serve because it requires no silverware—your guests can hold the convenient rib bone and munch away on the tender, succulent, full-flavored meat. Licking your fingers is perfectly acceptable—in fact, it’s the best way to relish every bit of lingering flavor.
Fenugreek leaves, widely used in the northern regions of India, contribute a perfumed bitterness to curries. Both fresh and frozen fenugreek leaves are widely available in Indian grocery stores. Fresh leaves are not as common, but the frozen ones (available in 10-ounce packages) are omnipresent. Even more widespread are the dried leaves known as kasoori methi.
To use the dried leaves, I soak them in a bowl of water for about 15 minutes. Then I use my fingers to scoop them up from the water’s surface (they are very light and float to the top), leaving behind any dust or dirt, which will have sunk to the bottom of the bowl. When substituting dried for fresh or frozen leaves, use half the amount called for (½ cup dried for 1 cup fresh or frozen).
Total Timeunder 1 hour
OccasionCasual Dinner Party
Recipe Coursehot appetizer
Dietary Considerationhot appetizer
Taste and Texturecreamy, hot & spicy, meaty, savory, spiced
- 2 tablespoons Ginger Paste
- 1 tablespoon Garlic Paste
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, ground
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, ground
- 1 teaspoon black cumin seeds, ground
- Seeds from 2 black cardamom pods, ground
- 1 teaspoon cayenne (ground red pepper)
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt
- 1 pound rack of lamb (from ribs), cut into chops
- 2 tablespoons mustard oil or canola oil
- 1 cup half and half
- ½ cup chopped fresh or (thawed) frozen fenugreek leaves; or ¼ cup dried fenugreek leaves, soaked in a bowl of water and skimmed off before use (see Notes)
- ½ teaspoon Kashmiri Garam Masala
Thoroughly combine the Ginger Paste, Garlic Paste, coriander, both kinds of cumin, cardamom, cayenne, and ½ teaspoon of the salt in a small bowl, stirring to make a moist (and potent) rub. Coat the lamb chops with this rub and refrigerate, covered, for at least 30 minutes or as long as overnight.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the lamb chops, rub and all, to the hot oil and sear each side until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the chops to a serving platter.
Pour the half-and-half into the skillet and bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan to release any browned bits of rub. Add the fenugreek leaves, garam masala, and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, 2 to 4 minutes.
Pour the sauce over the chops, and serve.
2008 Raghavan Iyer