Saturday, 9 June 2012

Masala Shoulder Lamb Chops

Masala Shoulder Lamb Chops

Usually in Calgary, I can get only frozen lamb chops, and they’re pretty much always from New Zealand, which is odd, considering the number of local ranches devoted to raising lamb.  Yesterday I really lucked out and found fresh shoulder lamb chops, and they were silly huge, larger than any I’ve ever seen.  And they were reasonably priced! 

Because I was so astonished at finding such treasure, I decided that my usual easy-peasy recipe wouldn’t do, as only something glorious could possibly do the trick.  Here goes:

The Masala
1 teaspoon cumin seed
½ teaspoon black cumin seed
½ ajwain seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 flake mace
3 green cardamom pods, bashed
1 large piece of cassia bark
4 cloves
½ teaspoon fenugreek seed
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
½ teaspoon powdered hot chilli
½ teaspoon turmeric powder

Roast all the above ingredients (excepting the last two powders) in a saucepan on medium heat.  As soon as they start to waft their fragrance, and send off a wispy plume of smoke, take them off the heat and put them in a spice grinder along with the chilli and turmeric powders.  Grind to a medium consistency.

See this strange device?  My sister went to one of those home shopping parties with a super saleswoman who convinced her to fork out $90.00, that’s about  4800 rupees, no kidding, for this object, which held the most magical promises.  The saleswoman convinced her that dishes that would normally require a 24 hour marinating time could be successfully marinated in a mere fifteen minutes if she used this device.  Sister bought one, and two days later, found the same item in a drug store for $20 dollars.  She bought that one for me.  I used mine first, and quickly discovered it was an overpriced plastic bowl, (at $20, never mind at $90!!!)  that doesn’t live up to the promises.  Oh well, at least it doesn’t absorb the golden hue of turmeric…

2 Thai chillies, chopped
5 fresh garlic cloves, chopped
1 inch ginger, grated
2 generous tablespoons plain yogurt
2 shoulder lamb chops, fresh if you can get
1 teaspoon unrefined cane sugar

Place the chops in a marinating bowl, and create a chilli garlic ginger paste by chopping those items together.  Add the paste, along with the yogurt and sugar.  Mix well and slather over each chop, both sides.  Because I own the device, I madly pumped out all the air to supposedly create a vacuum that would force the flavours into the meat in fifteen minutes.  Despite the tedium of the wheezing pump, rather cynically, I made sure that I gave the marinating time about four hours.  I think it’s possible that more flavours arrived inside the lamb than if I’d used a regular plastic container, but I won’t swear by it.
1 teaspoon coarse salt

Heat the barbecue or oven grill to medium high, and sprinkle the salt over the chops before grilling.  We grilled at medium high until they were browned nicely on one side, then flipped and reduced the heat to medium, till they were browned on the other side.
I was worried that the size of the chops meant they’d come from a huge, old sheep, and that perhaps I should have cooked them in the oven for a couple of hours so they wouldn’t taste like well spiced rubber.  Husband-person was optimistic, and pointed out repeatedly that our favourite giant Canadian food store had labelled them as ‘lamb’, so ‘lamb’ they would be.  Luckily I listened, because these were frantically delicious and the most tender we’d ever tasted.  Of course they were way too big to eat, although I made a pretty good showing of it.  I will finish mine for breakfast.  

All in all, I’m glad Sister bought the device for me, but I can’t imagine how mad she must have felt to find the same thing for $20 at the drug store.  By now I suppose that saleswoman has been driven over a cliff by an angry mob…  Have you ever been ripped off like that?  Please, do tell!


  1. Thanks Kanan, I can't wait to try your cashew curry. I'll be making it on Tuesday and giving a report here by Wednesday, I hope! Thanks for visiting my blog.