In 1991, when I decided to start my (sorry, I had a partner), when WE decided to start our first restaurant in Sydney ‘I’ was determined that this was not going to be another ‘curry house’. No way!!
I wasn’t going to cook any ‘bl..dy’ curries, not after having spent my time working with the Indian ‘masters’ (I called them ustaads), who taught me a simple lesson which I still hold true today.
“Son,” they said, “Indian food is a complete art. You can ‘see’ this art being created, you can ‘touch’ it, you can ‘hear’ the music when tempering a dish, you certainly can ‘smell’ the aromas wafting through the air, and last but not the least, you can ‘taste’ it.”
And they were right. Cooking is the perfect art that uses all the five senses!!
So, keeping these guidelines in mind we carefully worked out our menu and for the first time Sydneysiders got a chance to savour Indian food in its true form.
We had dishes like prawn balchao (marinated prawns in a spicy mix), chicken xacutti (a spicy chicken dish with cinnamon) and caril de piexe (another spicy dish, this time using fish with vinegar and coconut and chillies and so much more!) all from Goa, kozhi vartha kari (chicken pieces cooked in aromatic spices) from Tamil Nadu, meen porichattu (marinated fish cooked the Muslim way!) from Kerala, paththar ka gosht (slow-cooked lamb with cassia), shikampoor (delicious stuffed lamb kebabs), tali hui machali (pan fried fish with a spice crust), khatti meethi dal (sweet and sour dal), dalcha (lamb cooked with dal) and many more, along with my favourite masala dosai!!
However, the one dish that sold the most after the masala dosai was the dalcha.
I think the dalcha was so popular because it was the closest thing to eating a dal and roganjosh (lamb and lentils) with rice!! It was like an Indian lamb stew (or you may like to call it a broth) for the Sydneysiders!
So, here is how we made it then and how we still make it in my restaurant!
And yes folks, you’ve guessed it, this week’s garam masala is for, that’s right, red meat!!
If you’ve missed the other garam masala series that cover poultry, seafood, vegetarian and vegan meals, click six basic spice mixes
Ingredients for the red meat garam masala are as follows:
PREPARING THE LENTILS
If you want to see a simple video on how to caramelise onions, go to the techniques page of my blog.
Bringing it all together
Folks, try this dish with goat or even lamb shanks, serve it with a bread of your choice, a simple salad of fresh greens and you have the most amazing and satisfying meal on the table!! For a one page summary of this recipe, click dalcha recipe.
If there are any leftovers (this does occasionally happen in my house as Meera doesn’t eat red meat, however usually Aniruddh and I generally wallop half the contents in one sitting!
However, as I started saying, should there be any leftovers keep them in an earthenware pot, covered. Place the pot in a ‘waterbath’ and leave overnight. It’s as simple as that, it’s the way many people cook in India and it preserves the meat. Make fresh basmati rice and serve the dalcha on to the hot rice . . . just like a Nihari!!
Need help with making basmati rice or tempering kari leaves? Then watch these quick videos and if you’re a diaspora Indian listen and weep!:
Next week we have a ‘BIG’ surprise for you….
Till then, happy cooking!! Oh, and last, but by no means least, if you’ve got any feedback, your mother’s best recipe for this dish that has its own quirks, or any comment at all, I really enjoy hearing from you! So, let’s get the chat flowing, until then. . .
Anah daata sukhi bhava!!