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Lamb Dopiaza

Lamb Dopiaza
Lamb Dopiaza

Lamb Dopiaza is a Muslim dish supposedly created in the late 16th century by accident. The recipe calls for two lots of onions (the name means onions twice), one included in the base sauce, the other added near the end of cooking - almost as a garnish.

The story goes that a royal cook (to the Moghul Emperor Akbar the Great) accidentally added a second lot of onions to a dish and his nibs really enjoyed it, so this piece of serendipity became a standard dish.

The dish moved south to the Andhra Pradesh region where it further evolved and has now, although still eaten in the north and other parts of India, lamb dopiaza has become a classic Hyderabadi dish. Like many dishes of that region it is often very hot and slightly sour.

Lamb dopiaza is a close relation of a korma (in fact given that korma simply means 'braised', this is actually a type of korma).

Basic Ingredients

1lb (450g) lamb.
6 medium onions.
3 cloves garlic.
1 inch (2.5 cm) root ginger
2 tablespoons plain yoghurt
1 tablespoon tomato purée
Coriander leaves for garnish
Oil for frying

2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
Seeds from 6 cardamoms
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
teaspoon turmeric
teaspoon garam masala

Notes on Ingredients

Lamb. Well if you want to be really authentic then goat mutton is the thing (I guess this should be called Gosht Dopiaza rather then Lamb Dopiaza); if you have access to a Halal butcher then you may get this. It is also quite normal to use a cut on the bone such as shoulder and if I am cooking for an occasion and have plenty of time then I do this. Diced lamb will do a good job..

Onions. Yes I know it sounds like a lot but that's what lamb dopiaza is all about and I have seen recipes that use up to 10 onions with this quantity of meat. Most of it dissolves into the sauce so it does not look strange when it is finished.

Chilli. I usually use 1 scotch bonnet in this - I sometimes remove the seeds if I am unsure about my guests' pain thresholds. You can use more or less or milder chillis.

Tomato. I suggest purée here as it gives a good flavour - you can use mashed up whole tomatoes if you like. You can also use more if you like a more tomatoey taste.

Oil. I nearly always use ghee for this. It compliments the sweet taste of the onions really well. You can use butter or any other sort of oil if you like.

Garam Masala. Use ready made or make your own. I like a nice fresh one with this and use cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, mace and bay leaves.

Basic Method

Heat a dry frying pan and roast the coriander, cumin and black peppercorns.
Allow them to cool and then grind these along with the cardamom seeds.
If not using meat on the bone then dice the meat to inch (1.5cm) cubes.
Put the meat yoghurt and spices in a bowl and mix well.
Peel all the onions.
Slice 4 onions very finely and 2 very coarsely.
Peel and mash the garlic.
Peel and finely dice the ginger.
Finely chop the chilli.
Prepare tomatoes if using whole ones.

Heat some oil in a heavy bottomed pan and fry the coarsely chopped onions.
When the onions are just softened put these aside into a bowl.
Heat some more oil or ghee and fry the finely sliced onions, garlic ginger and chilli.
Put in the meat and fry on high heat for a couple of minutes.
Add the tomato purée stir in and then reduce the heat and braise for 5 minutes.
Add the turmeric and stir that in.
Turn the heat to very low, cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and cook for at least one hour.
About 10 minutes from the end, add the coarse onions and the garam masala and stir in.
Put in a serving bowl and garnish with coriander leaves.

Notes on Method

Onions. Slice as finely as you can for the fine onions so that they dissolve into sauce. The cause onions should be quite chunky

Garlic and ginger. You can make a paste of these if you wish - I don't usually bother because prolonged cooking breaks them down pretty well anyway.

Marinade. You don't have to marinate the meat for long periods here, it's just convenient to do this while you are frying two batches of onions.

I sometimes use a slow cooker after all the frying is done and this works well.

Lamb Dopiaza would most likely be eaten with naan or some other bread but I often use pilau rice instead. In Hyderabad you would also find some pickle and possibly chutney with this.

The quantities above with just bread or rice will feed 4 moderately hungry adults. A daal side dish will go really well if you want more.

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