Romy Gill's lamb harissa
One of the most beautiful and original books that has been published recently is Romy Gill's On the Himalayan Trail which focusses on the food of Kashmir and Ladakh. Here's her recipe for lamb harissa which - surely a bonus for meateaters - is commonly garnished with a sheekh kebab. I also like the idea it's a brunch dish!
Romy writes: "Harissa is better with lamb, but it can be made with chicken, too. Traditionally, the harissa is cooked overnight and served up at family brunches – it’s a staple of many Kashmiri households. I’ve cut down the cooking time here, but the result is just as delicious.
SUNFLOWER OIL, FOR DEEP-FRYING
500 G (1 LB 2 OZ) SHALLOTS, THINLY SLICED
1 KG (2 LB 4 OZ) LEG OF LAMB
2.5 LITRES (87 FL OZ/10 CUPS) WATER
12 GARLIC CLOVES, PEELED
11/2 TEASPOONS SALT
2 TEASPOONS GROUND GINGER
1 TABLESPOON FENNEL SEEDS
6 WHOLE CLOVES
8 CM (3 IN) CINNAMON STICK
10 GREEN CARDAMOM PODS
6 BLACK CARDAMOM PODS
6 BLACK PEPPERCORNS
75 G (21/2 OZ/GENEROUS 1/3 CUP) RICE FLOUR
250 ML (81/2 FL OZ/1 CUP) MILK
4 TEASPOONS GHEE, TO SERVE
Pour sunflower oil into a deep, heavy-based pan to a depth of 8 cm (3 in). Place over a medium heat and heat to 180°C/350°F on a digital thermometer. Alternatively, you can drop in a tiny piece of bread: if it sizzles and browns in 15 seconds, the oil is hot enough.
Once the oil is hot, carefully add the shallots to the pan and deep-fry until crispy and brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside to drain on a plate lined with paper towels.
Place the lamb leg in a large pan. and add the measured water. Bring to the boil and skim off and discard any scum that rises to the surface. When the broth is clear, add the garlic cloves, salt, ground ginger and all of the whole spices. Cook over a low heat for 3–4 hours, or until the meat falls away from the bone.
When the meat is cooked, remove from the heat and strain the cooking stock into a jug, discarding the whole spices. Remove the flesh from the bones and set the meat aside to rest.
Add the rice flour to the stock and whisk to combine, then place it back in the pan over a low heat. Add the milk and the cooked meat, and cook for at least 1 hour, stirring frequently, until the gravy is smooth.
Leave to rest before eating. In Kashmir, they eat it warm, hot or cold. When ready to eat, divide among bowls. Heat the ghee and pour it over the harissa, then serve garnished with sheekh kebabs and the crispy fried shallots.
For the sheekh kebabs
1 KG (2 LB 4 OZ) MINCED (GROUND) LAMB (IDEALLY LEG MEAT)
2–3 TEASPOONS KASHMIRI CHILLI POWDER
11/2 TEASPOONS SALT
1 TEASPOON DRIED MINT
1 TSP GROUND CUMIN
1 TEASPOON SAFFRON STRANDS
1 TSP BLACK CARDAMOM SEEDS, CRUSHED TO A POWDER IN A PESTLE AND MORTAR
1/2 TEASPOON BLACK CUMIN SEEDS, CRUSHED TO A POWDER IN A PESTLE AND MORTAR
HANDFUL OF FRESH CORIANDER (CILANTRO) LEAVES, CHOPPED, PLUS EXTRA TO SERVE
1 LARGE EGG, LIGHTLY BEATEN
CHUTNEY OF YOUR CHOICE (OPTIONAL)
Combine all the ingredients, except the egg, in a large mixing bowl. Mix together, kneading as you would a dough, until well combined. Cover and refrigerate for1 hour.
Remove from the refrigerator, then place the mixture in a food processor. Add the egg and blend to a paste.
Divide the mixture into 6 equal-sized portions. Wet your hands with cold water and mould each portion around a skewer, gently pressing and shaping each into a long sausage. With damp hands, smooth the surface of each kebab.
Meanwhile, prepare a barbecue or preheat the oven grill (broiler) to high.
Cook the skewers on the hot barbecue or under the grill for 8–10 minutes, turning them after 5 minutes and rotating them frequently until well browned and cooked on all sides.
Serve scattered with coriander and sliced shallots, with lime wedges for squeezing and a chutney of your choice, if you like.
What to drink: Romy suggests drinking chai with this (the Noon Chai in the book) but if you wanted to drink wine I'd choose a mellow aged red like a rioja gran reserva or a mature Lebanese red
Extracted from On the Himalayan Trail by Romy Gill published by Hardie Grant. Photography by Poras Chaudhary and Matt Russell
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