Lamb Vindaloo Kipling ‡

Curry is a generic food preparation now found throughout Western culture whose origin derives from South and Southeast Asia, especially India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. Its popularity has spread outward thence to into a pan-Asian, international cuisine. There is no particular ingredient that defines a curry. It is merely a regional spicy soup or stew in which each subculture has adopted ingredients to suit its own unique tastes and availabilities.

I was first introduced to curry at an Indian restaurant (the Kipling, I think) in London in September of 1963, where I was to present my first conference paper. I had only recently received my Ph.D. degree; this was my first travel abroad, and my first airplane flight.* The restaurant labeled none of its dishes as “curry,” but rather by the particular style, such as Rogan Josh, Madras, Vindaloo, and others. However, to me, unstudied and naive in the culture, they were are all just subtly different forms of what the rest of the world calls curry.

My first attempt at making a meat curry used a recipe from a now-forgotten source. The author claimed it to be Vindaloo, a curry made in Goa, India. It called for mutton. I used lamb instead. The recipe used vegetables and spices only to flavor a stock in which the meat was then cooked; I retained the vegetables. It called for rice, but that is a big no-no for those of us who seek lower G. I. meals, so I omit it now. It overcooked the meat to the point that it was dry and textureless. My rendition, below, is hopefully a kinder treatment. A number of “improvements” have been made over the years.

the curry
  • 1 Tbsp ghee, or clarified butter*
  • 1 Lb lean leg of lamb, in ½” × 2” slices
  • ¼ Cup flour
  • 1 Medium onion, sliced ¼”
  • 6 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Medium carrot, julienned
  • 1 Rib celery, with leaves, diced
  • 1 Green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 Apple, cored and chopped
  • 1 Cup mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ Tsp black pepper
  • ½ Tsp <salt>
  • 1 Tsp red chile flakes
  • 1 Tsp ground ginger
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 Tsp powdered coriander
  • 1 Tsp powdered cumin
  • ½ Tsp ground cloves
  • 1 Tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Cup beef bouillon
  • 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • ½ Cup nonfat yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • ½ Cup Major Gray mango chutney
  • ½ Cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts or almonds, chopped
  • 3 Scallions, chopped
  • ½ Cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • ¼ Cup red chile sauce (hot)
  • ½ Cup shredded coconut
  • 3 Eggs, boiled, chopped
  • ½ Cup raisins

Put the flour in a plastic bag with the meat and shake to coat well. Put the oil in a large Dutch skillet with the floured meat, reserving the leftover flour in case it is needed later. Brown the meat well on all sides. Remove to a dish until later.

Add the onion, garlic, carrot, celery, bell pepper, and mushrooms to the skillet and sauté until vegetables begin to brown. Add the fruit, <salt>, chile flakes, ginger, curry, coriander, cumin, cloves, and cinnamon. Stir and continue cooking until all ingredients are mixed well.

Add the bouillon and cider vinegar, bring to a simmer. Add the meat and continue to cook until the meat and vegetables are just tender. Add a little flour and broth slurry, if needed, to make a medium gravy. Add the yogurt and cilantro and simmer another 5 to 10 minutes, or until the floury taste disappears.

Depending on the desired gravy thickness, this can be served in a bowl or plate, optionally with rice or dahl. Serve the condiments on the side in separate dishes for individual garniture.