Almost cooking like a chef

Mallika Basu - Almost cooking like a chef

Posted 23rd February 2007

img_3125.jpgWedged between a smelly armpit and a raving lunatic on the underground this morning, my eyes nearly popped out when I read news of the Best of Brit Blog 2007 awards.

An award? For Blogs? In Britain? How fantastic.

Not like I bet money on winning anything. I grew up winning consolation prizes for failing to win and progress prizes for not failing. Even a beauty contest entry ended in a third prize – something about my lackadaisical response to the malignant malaria outbreak at the time.

(I mean, God, I was 17. Not like I wasn’t worried enough about the boy who didn’t fancy me and the boy who did…)

It would be nice to win something. Once. If you think me worthy (or feel sorry for me) please nominate me. Nominations are welcome from the UK and beyond. Oh, and I loosely fit in the arts and entertainment categorythere isn’t one for food).

Whether from the UK and beyond, you may have heard of Atul Kochhar? The only Indian chef with a Michelin star honour? As it’s cooking from cookbooks week, I decided to try one of his lamb recipes from Delicious magazine here in the UK.

As I flicked through the article, I read about Atul being faithful to the origins of each recipe. Great. Lamb curry with chickpeas. Superb. Takes three hours to make, plus overnight soaking.


The last time I spent three hours making anything, it spent two and three quarters of an hour in the oven. Baking.

Anyway, undeterred by this small problem i rallied on soon noticing that he’d used dried chickpeas and cooked them before chucking them into the lamb.

See this is where we have to be smart. Life’s too short and busy and a tin of chick peas is a far superior choice. Here is the recipe, which I have tried to be faithful to (bar raw chick peas) and it was delicious:

Feeds 4:

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 cm fresh ginger, finely grated
1 tin of chickpeas
4 bay leaves
4 green cardamom pods
7 cloves
1 medium onion, sliced
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp garam masala
2 large tomatoes, chopped
6 lamb chops
Fresh coriander, to garnish (optional)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a deep pot and when hot, add the bay leaves, cardamoms and cloves. When they sizzle, add the onion and cook until translucent and soft. Stir in the  ginger and garlic and fry for two minutes.

Add the spices, the tomatoes and lamb. Cover the lamb with hot water, bring to the boil and then simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the chickpeas and simmer until the lamb is cooked (approximately another 30 minutes).To finish, stir in the garam masala and salt and garnish with coriander before serving.

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