It’s been a long time since I made this curry in Delhi style. We used to relish it so much when we lived there. Luckily I happened to stumble upon it recently in one of those little trips into my past and therefore managed to bring this inanimate thing back to life. I had to make it the very next day otherwise it would have been a long lost forgotten thing again.
What makes it so unique in “Delhi style” is just one different spice and one finishing touch which changes its entire chemistry. It is the magic of the fried onions and the hint of the smoky flavour from the black cardamom that gives it the distinct flavour and taste which is so different from the traditional curries.
Here’s the recipe!
2 Lamb shanks
2 medium onions
4 green chillies
1-2 Black cardamoms
1 Bay leaf
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
2 tbs yoghurt
2 tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp kashmiri red chilli powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste.
1. Cut each one of the lamb shanks into 2 pieces (your local butcher can do it for you). This makes it easier to eat the bone marrow which is very delicious rather than keeping them whole. Then clean them by trimming away the fat and removing any unwanted thick skin carefully without chopping off the tender meat. Rinse well, drain and keep aside.
2. Slice the two onions. Heat the vegetable oil in an Instant Pot/pressure cooker, add the black cardamom, cloves and the bay leaf and fry half the onion slices to a light golden brown. Reserve the other half. Press the sauté button to fry the onions in the Instant Pot.
4. Add ginger garlic paste, turmeric, kashmiri chilli powder and coriander powder, give it a stir then add the lamb shanks and salt. Sauté well with the spices.
5. Add the whisked yoghurt to the pot followed by green chillies, cilantro and 1-2 cups of water. The water should be 2 inches above the shanks. Switch off the sauté mode, close the lid, turn the valve to sealing position, then press the “pressure cook” or the “meat/chilli” button and set the time for 20 minutes. In the pressure cooker after the first whistle, turn down the heat to medium, close the lid air tight and pressure cook for 10 – 15 minutes. (But if you are not using either the Instant Pot or pressure cooker you will have to cook on low to medium heat for at least 45minutes to an hour. They should be so tender as to come off the bone. If the meat is still not soft and off the bone in the Instant Pot of Pressure cooker cook for 5 – 10 more minutes. It all depends on the type of meat. Normally the shanks cook in 20 – 30 minutes in the Instant Pot and 10 – 15 minutes in the Pressure Cooker.
6. Meanwhile deep fry the reserved onion in vegetable oil till evenly and nicely browned but not burnt. So extra care should be taken while frying the onions to have them rightly done. Set aside.
7. Once the shanks are done, wait for NPR and if you have no patience manually release the pressure by turning the valve to venting position then switch to sauté less mode. In the pressure cooker turn down the heat to low. Now add the reserved fried onions to the pot, cover lightly not air tight and let it simmer slowly for some more time (5-10 mins). The browned onions not only give colour to the curry but also a sweet nutty flavour which combined with the smoky black cardamom flavour further enhances the taste.
8. Do not let the curry thicken too much. If it tends to thicken then sprinkle a little water on all sides and let it simmer till the oil comes on top or until you don’t see those fried onions anymore. Add chopped fresh cilantro to garnish and enjoy with rotis (flat bread), naan or rice.
Fried Onions: You could also use store bought fried onions if they are of good quality.
Kashmiri Chilli powder – Kashmiri chilli is a mild form of chilli which gives colour and flavour to the dish and not much heat. You can get the MDH brand of Kashmiri chilli powder from any indian grocery store. I haven’t found any other brands here. Or the other best alternative would be to soak the kashmiri chillies in water and grind them into a paste. Though this is a lengthy process, it is fresh and more flavourful. The problem is finding the kashmiri chillies as they are not always available even in indian/asian grocery stores.
Black Cardamoms – Another variety of cardamoms. They are big and black and have a smoky flavour. All asian grocery stores carry them.