This version of Korma is not traditional. I’ve added eggplant and lemon zest. Feel free to omit both, but hand-to-heart, it won’t be as tasty…and at the Goddess’s abode, we’re all about tasty! This Korma has particularly good Karma. A note about browning meat for braises: When I’m braising meats for stews, I like to purchase large steaks, at least 1-inch thick, and brown the whole piece of meat. Browning meat is very important to the overall taste, as it caramelizes the sugars and adds both color and flavor. I hate browning chunks of meat. It’s time-consuming and while I think this might not be quite as tasty, the trade-off of time saved is worth it to me…but you make that choice. It is essential that you let the meat rest for at least 15 minutes after browning. This allows the juices to redistribute back into the meat. Now, you can cut the meat into 2-inch pieces. I like the larger pieces, as they tend to break up less.
As I mentioned, I add eggplant. This is absolutely not traditional, as far as I can tell, and you don’t have to add it. I like the silky texture it adds to the finished dish. And it really sucks up the flavors of the spices, which is an absolute plus. For the onion, I leave the root end in tact, then slice the onion vertically. This keeps the onion wedges together and when we slice an onion vertically, it doesn’t cook to pieces. For onion soup or caramelized onions, we slice horizontally.
I also add lemon. When I have Preserved Lemons, I dice half of one up and toss that in, but in this case, I just used the julienned zest. If you prefer, orange zest is also delicious. We prefer to use Aleppo pepper flakes. They add a lovely perfume to the dish, without screaming heat. I do imagine this dish should be hotter than I make it, so add chile heat to your desired level of pain! And saffron, which adds a lovely layer of flavor, but if you don’t have it, this is still divine, without it. I didn’t add dried fruit here, because…well, I didn’t want to add dried fruit! But, the addition of either dates or figs, is superb.
You may use whole spices, but I usually prefer to use ground spices, except for the bay leaves and cinnamon stick, as you can easily pluck them out. Originally, I rubbed the spices into the meat, then browned the meat. But when I browned the meat, the spices had a tendency to burn. Now, I add half of the spices near the end of the browning process, and the remainder when I add the onions and eggplant chunk for their final cook. This works well.
To Prepare: Pour the oil into a medium pan and set over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the meat with salt on both sides and drop it, in one piece, into the pot. Don’t move it around, or it won’t brown properly. Brown it on both sides. Sprinkle with half the spice mixture and cook for 1 minute longer. Remove the meat and put it in a bowl. Add additional oil. Toss in the onion wedges and eggplant chunks. Let them brown slightly, but they will not be thoroughly cooked. Remove and set aside in a separate bowl. Into the pot, pour the tomatoes, 1/2 can of water, the garlic, lemon zest, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, Aleppo flakes, salt, and saffron. Give it a good stir. Cut the browned lamb into large chunks and return them to the pot, along with any juices they have released. Bring to a simmer. Cover and turn heat to low; simmer gently for 45 minutes. Add the onion and eggplant chunks. Sprinkle the remaining spice mixture over; stir gently. Cover and continue to simmer for 30 to 45 minutes longer or until the meat is tender. Pour in the yogurt and cream; continue to cook on medium heat for a few minutes until the sauce thickens slightly. Serve over basmati rice and sprinkle with slivered almonds. I think a bit of finely minced fresh mint might be nice, but it’s just a thought. I haven’t tried it.
Good Karma Lamb Korma
- 4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper (1 tablespoons whole peppercorns)
- 3 teaspoons ground coriander (1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon wholes cumin seeds (1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin)
- 1 teaspoon Hungarian (or smoked sweet) paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (8 whole green pods)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (6 whole cloves)
- 1/4 teaspoon MSG (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 1/4 pounds boneless lamb, from the shoulder, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 smallish onions, peeled, core intact, cut into 1/6’s from top-to-bottom
- 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger (peel before chopping)
- 1 smallish eggplant, unpeeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 15-ounce can diced, fire-roasted tomatoes with their juice
- 6-8 good-sized cloves garlic, coarsely chopped (2-4 tablespoons)
- Zest of 1/2 large lemon, cut into thin julienne (optional)
- 2 bay leaves
- One 2–3-inch cinnamon stick
- 3/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes (or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper)
- 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed between your fingers
- 1/2 cup whole milk Greek-style yogurt (use ONLY full-fat yogurt)
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk (full-fat) or heavy cream
- Cooked basmati rice
- 2-3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds or whole cashews (optional)
Combine the black pepper, coriander, cumin seeds, paprika, cardamom, cloves, allspice and MSG, if using; set aside.
Pour the oil into a medium pan and set over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the meat with salt on both sides. Place the meat in the pot; brown on both sides. Don’t move it around too much or it won’t brown well. Sprinkle with half the spice mixture; cook for 1 minute longer. Remove the meat with tongs and put in a bowl. Add an additional 2 tablespoons of oil. Brown the onion wedges and eggplant chunks; they will not be thoroughly cooked. Remove and set aside. Add the tomatoes, 1/2 can of water, the garlic, lemon zest, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, Aleppo flakes, salt, and saffron to the pot. Give it a good stir. Cut the browned lamb into large chunks; return them to the pot, along with any juices they have released. Bring to a simmer. Cover and turn heat to low; simmer gently for 45 minutes. Add the onion and eggplant chunks. Sprinkle the remaining spice mixture over; stir gently. Cover and continue to simmer for 30 to 45 minutes longer or until the meat is tender. Pour in the yogurt and cream; continue to cook on medium heat for a few minutes until the sauce thickens slightly.
NOTE: This is delicious with a small handful of sliced dates, dried apricots or quartered dried figs tossed in with the eggplant chunks.
Good Karma Lamb Korma Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2020. All rights reserved.
If you want to make this in a vegetarian mode, sub out the lamb for dried, reconstituted mushrooms and add 2-3 teaspoon fermented bean paste to boost the umami. I won’t taste “lamb-y”, but it will still be delicious.
Originally, I used heavy cream. But today, I had half a can of evaporated milk leftover, so I used that. I gotta’ tell you, I think that option might be a keeper, so I noted it in the recipe.
I haven’t tried this in the multi-cooker, using the pressure cooker option, but I think it would be a perfect (and quick) way to cook the Korma. Korma is delicious made the day before serving, chilled and gently reheated. Good Karma, indeed.