Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Lamb dhansak and Undurraga Carménère

The recipes of my Meat-free October were well received and brought in a whole lot of new readers. But I must tell you, my old readers couldn't hide their excitement when the month came to an end...

First thing I whipped up was lamb dhansak, one of my favourites in Indian cuisine. It's earthy and comforting but not spicy a such. Dhansaks get their richness from lentils, a superhero packed with nutrients I've come to totally love.

I used a 1,2 kg pack of lamb entrecôte and boom - ended up with enough to feed about eight people. Somewhere along the way clearly forgetting I live alone. Oh well, stews like this are food of love and meant to be shared. So, I took some of mine to the crazy lady living alone downstairs. That's my challenge for you, too: make this and share the love so that at least for one day no-one needs to go lonely. Or hungry.

PS. If you can't get your hands on fenugreek seeds, just skip them. It'll be delicious nonetheless!

Serves 6-8

Lamb dhansak

1,2 kg lamb entrecôte (or another boneless piece of lamb)

oil for frying

3 onions
2 green chillis
1 large tomato
4 large garlic cloves
5 tsp finely chopped ginger
the stalks of large bunch of coriander

1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds 
3 tsp fennel seeds

2,5 tsp turmeric
2,5 tsp ground coriander seeds
2,5 tsp ground cumin

1 star anise
300 g dl red lentils 
1 l meat (or vegetable) stock

1 tbsp garam masala
salt, pepper

to serve:

coriander leaves
1 large onion (or a handful of crunchy roasted onion flakes)
1/2 tbsp chilli flakes
Cut the lamb into an inch by inch cubes. Sear, on a hot pan, in batches. Season with salt and pepper.

Grind fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds and fennel seeds into powder (using either pestle and mortar or one of those handy spice grinders). Combine with the rest of the spices apart from garam masala. 

Cut the tomato in half and remove the core. Blizz with onions, chilli, garlic, ginger and coriander stalks into a paste. Heat some oil large pot and sauté the paste until it softens and stars changing colour. Then add the spices and stir for a couple of minutes.

Add meat and the star anise. Stir to cover the meat. The pour in the lentils and stock. Bring to boil. Cover  and let simmer over gentle heat for 1,5 - 2 hours until meat is tender. But hey, as is the case with stews, it's really not that fussy. 

Add garam masala, check the taste and season as needed.

Finely slice the onion reserved for serving and fry in a bit of oil until browned, a little crisp around the edges but not burned. Sprinkle on top of dhansak along with the chilli flakes and coriander leaves.

Serve with rice and naan bread. Should you fancy having a go at making your own, look no further - the recipe for that coming on the blog next!

And hey, if food is a way to culinary expeditions around the world, so, too, are wines. Since in this blog the emphasis is on pairing food and wine, you don't often hear me wax lyrical about the intensity of the colour or analyze the soil the grapes grew in. 

But there's an interesting story behind the wine pairing for this recipe.

Carménère is originally from Médoc region in Bordeaux, France and one of the oldest varieties of our continent. In 1867, however, Phylloxera plague destroyed most of the vineyards in Europe and Carménère was thought to be extinct. In 1990's the world was in for a surprise, as DNA tests (I know, right! Very CSI!) proved how a grape that had happily settled in Chile and that everybody thought was Merlot, was actually Carménère!

Carménère takes a while to ripen and produces medium-bodied red with soft tannins. Though it can occasionally have quite a bit berriness in it, they're nothing like juice-like Beaujolaises. Instead, at best they're packed with personality. They tend to have pepperiness, spiciness and earthiness, sometimes to a point of smoky.

Now, with Indian food you'd probably reach for a beer (in addition to that standard lager you might want to try a fruity IPA as well!) and a Riesling from Mosel (Blitz Riesling for one) would not be out of place either. Carménère, however, is a surprisingly good match when it comes to red wines. It's jot certain jamminess that balances the spicier notes of the Indian cuisine and it does work well with the cooling, herby elements such as coriander.

I have a feeling it might work with the Asian flavours and green peppers of this recipe for beef in peanut sauce, too...!

Oh, and if Indian food is right up your alley, try these samosas (gluten-free and vegan!).




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