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This Kashmiri Dry Lamb has a wonderful flavour; it is succulent with a crispy exterior.
This recipe for Kashmiri Dry Lamb, was given to me by my mother, who received it many years ago, from a wonderful lady from one of the old households of Kashmir. It was one of her family recipes, passed down through several generations.
This dish is incredibly easy to make, and very popular!
The incredibly beautiful region of Kashmir remains divided between three countries; India, Pakistan and China. The cuisine is influenced by three main cooking styles: that of the Kashmiri Pandits (the only remaining Hindu community native to the Kashmiri Valley in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir), the Muslims and the more ancient style of the Mughals.
As most of their economy is centred around agriculture, the cuisine is rich in flavour and diversity. Warm spices such as cardamom, cloves and cinnamon are commonly used, along with other fragrant spices such as fennel seeds and saffron.
The famous Kashmiri red chillies are a great deal less pungent than other varieties of chilli, but they add a wonderful flavour.
A great deal of meat is consumed in Kashmir, in particular slow cooked meats, which are often cooked in yoghurt or milk. This is one of the very few areas in India where ‘mutton’ is actually sheep meat. Click here to read about mutton in India.
What is ‘dry lamb’?
This is a dry meat dish rather than with a sauce, so it should be cooked till there is no more liquid in the pan.
In Kashmir, dishes are usually cooked in Ghee (clarified butter) which adds to the rich flavours. I use sunflower oil for this recipe, but you could substitute with ghee.
The original recipe for dry Kashmiri lamb uses mutton, but I prefer to use lamb. Read more about the difference between mutton lamb and goat meat in this article .
I used a leg of lamb cut into small pieces – some pieces are boneless and some on the bone.
Why it works
The delicious, succulent lamb is aromatically spiced and has a beautifully crisp browned exterior. The buttermilk tenderizes the meat so it is soft as butter and remains moist after cooking.
How to make Kashmiri dry lamb
- Lightly fry the onions till golden brown, and set aside.
- In a large pan, combine the rest of the ingredients (excluding the fresh cilantro/coriander), and simmer on a medium to low heat till all the liquid has evaporated.
- Remove the lamb and set aside.
- In the same pan, heat some oil and return the pieces of lamb to the pan to brown.
- Remove from the pan and garnish with the onions and chopped cilantro/coriander.
How to serve it
Kashmiri Dry Lamb goes well with warm bread and plain yogurt, or raita.
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Kashmiri Dry Lamb
- sunflower oil for frying
- 1 large onion finely sliced
- 1 kg lamb leg of lamb or lamb shoulder, cut into small pieces
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 5 cloves
- 4 green cardamoms whole and crushed
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground fennel
- 2 whole green chillies broken in half
- 2 whole Kashmiri red chillies or 1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
- coarse sea salt to taste
for the garnish
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
- 2 medium white onions finely sliced
- fresh cilantro/coriander a few sprigs
- In a large frying pan over medium heat, add a tablespoon of oil and sauté the sliced onions. Once golden brown, remove from the pan and set aside.
- In a large heavy saucepan, combine the rest of the ingredients, including the lamb (excluding from the cilantro/coriander), and simmer on medium to low heat till all the liquid has evaporated (approx. 45 minutes-1 hour). Remove the lamb.
- In the same pan, heat at least 2 cms of oil on medium-high heat, reducing to medium-low, and fry the lamb pieces until well browned all over (approx 8 minutes in total). Transfer the lamb to absorbent paper to drain the excess oil.
- Garnish with the onions and chopped cilantro/coriander.
- Use leg of lamb leg or shoulder, cut into small pieces.
- This is a dry dish rather than one with gravy, so there should be no liquid left in the pan after cooking the lamb.
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