Lamb with Chickpeas and Lentils (Ghosh vari daar)

Since relocating to Mumbai in May, we hadn’t invited any friends over for a meal because:
  1. we only had 4 chairs at our tiny IKEA dining table;
  2. there were only 4 plates, 2 cups, 4 forks and 4 spoons; and
  3. I wasn’t confident cooking for guests laaaaaah!

But due to a recent kind donation of utensils and crockery from a returned Singaporean and a “shameless” self-invitation from a friend (it went like this: “We’ve been seeing all your food pictures and wonder when you’re going to cook for us!”) , we finally invited a couple of friends over last night. And this was what I cooked:  

Everyone enjoyed the mutton dish ‘cos the meat was so just tender and the gravy flavourful.
This fantastic recipe is from Cooking with My Indian Mother-in-Law  and I’ve modified it slightly to reduce the heat and to make it slow carb diet friendly. 

Serves 4 as part of a meal
Cooking time of  at least 1.5 hours

225g/1 cup of channa dal (split chickpeas), well rinsed (I used dried whole chickpeas, soaked overnight)  
2 tbsp moong dal, well rinsed (any type of lentils will be fine actually)
500g mutton (or lamb shoulder or leg, if you can), cubed with bone retained, trimmed of fat and rinsed to remove stray splinters of bone
1.5 tsp salt
3 fat cloves garlic
3cm ginger
2 green chilies
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp peanut/cooking oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2.5cm cinnamon stick
3 cardamoms
3 cloves
10 black peppercorns
4 tbsp crushed canned plum tomatoes and juice (I replaced with 1 chopped fresh tomato and 3 tbsp of tomato puree)
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tbsp finely chopped coriander stems
2 medium potatoes, peeled and halved (Omitted because of PJ's slow-carb diet)
Juice of half a lemon (optional)
1/2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves (optional)

1. Put both types of dal in a small pan with 4 cups/1 litre of water and bring to the boil. Skim off any scum, then partially cover the pan and simmer until the pulses are soft. This should take about 30 minutes – you may need to add more boiling water from time to time. (If you are using whole chickpeas, cook it for 30 minutes first before adding lentils; then cook for another 30 minutes i.e., total 1 hr).

2. Meanwhile, put the meat in a small pan with 500ml/2 cups of water and 1/2 tsp of salt. Bring to the boil, skim off any scum and cook rapidly for 10 mins. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes until tender.

3. Crush the garlic, ginger, 1 green chili, cumin seeds and 1 tsp of salt to a paste. Set aside.

4. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onion, cinnamon, cardamoms, cloves and peppercorns. Cook over moderate heat until the edges of the onion begin to turn brown. Add the garlic-ginger paste and cook for a minute or so, then add the tomatoes, the remaining chili (left whole), turmeric, coriander stems and the potatoes (optional). Stir well and simmer until the oil pools around the masala mixture.

5. Add the cooked meat and its cooking liquid to the masala and continue to cook over medium heat. Puree the dal and its cooking water using a hand-held blender, or beat with a whisk – it should be fairly think and soupy. Add it to the masala. Simmer gently until the potatoes are tender (if you’re not using potatoes, just simmer for another 15-20 minutes).

(optional step) When you’re ready to serve, stir in the lemon juice and chopped coriander and check the seasoning, adding more salt if necessary (not really!).

If you prefer more heat, use 4 green chilies – 2 in the paste, and 2 whole with the tomato mixture.


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