Lamb cutlets in masala with almond and pumpkin curry
Use freshly ground spices if possible to make the most of the rich, aromatic marinade in this dish. Pre-ground spices rarely match the flavour of whole seeds. Prepare the marinade a couple of hours before cooking the curry to allow the meat time to absorb the flavours. You could serve the curry alone for a vegetarian main.
Sumptuous: Lamb cutlets with a pumpkin-almond curry. Photo: William Meppem
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12 lamb cutlets
For the masala marinade
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
seeds of 8 cardamom pods
1 large handful coriander leaves
1 large handful mint leaves
1 tsp ground chilli
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 heaped tbsp plain yoghurt
For the curry
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 cardamom pod, crushed
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
4 fresh curry leaves
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 small brown onion, cut into 1cm dice
350g butternut pumpkin, cut into 4cm chunks
2/3 cup coconut cream
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 cup whole blanched almonds
FOR THE MARINADE, toast fennel, coriander and cardamom seeds in a dry frying pan over a medium heat until fragrant (about 4-5 minutes). Using a mortar and pestle, grind spices with a pinch of salt into a fine powder. Remove and reserve.
POUND THE CORIANDER and mint leaves with a pinch of salt in a mortar with a pestle until broken down. Add chilli, turmeric, garam masala, the freshly ground spices, lemon juice and yoghurt.
COAT THE LAMB CUTLETS in the masala mixture and marinate for about 2 hours.
FOR THE PUMPKIN-ALMOND CURRY, warm oil in a large saucepan or wok on a low heat and sauté mustard seeds and cardamom pod for a minute. Add cumin seeds, curry leaves, garlic and onion and sauté for 2 minutes.
ADD PUMPKIN, 1 cup water, a pinch of salt, coconut cream, turmeric and almonds. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 15-20 minutes, until pumpkin is tender and sauce has slightly thickened (it should have the consistency of a soup).
IN A FRYING PAN, warm 1 tbsp oil over a medium heat. Cook cutlets in batches for about 3 minutes each side. Rest somewhere warm for 5 minutes, then serve with the curry.
Photography William Meppem, Jennifer Soo. Styling Hannah Meppem. Food preparation Nick Banbury.