Pretty much anyone who knows me will tell you that I have a mild addiction to Pakistani food, and in particular the tandoori lamb chop. I’d more than happily spend an evening at Mirch Masala in Tooting, or Tayyabs, but my favourite place to get a fix is Lahore in Whitechapel (long overdue a ‘Local Hero’ post). The chops may be a bit smaller, but my god they taste good. Spicy, deeply flavoured and smokey. Yep, my mouth is watering and it’s only 9am.
But enough about my issues. This recipe is my attempt to re-create Lahore’s greatness at home. Funnily enough, I don’t have a tandoor in my kitchen so I use a griddle pan to get the charring and smokey flavour, and whilst this recipe doesn’t quite live up to East London’s finest, it’s not half bad. If you don’t have a griddle pan, you could grill them on both sides.
I use lamb cutlets as opposed to thicker chops, and serve them with a coriander and mint raita.
8 lamb cutlets
(for the marinade)
2 large cloves of garlic
1 thumb sized piece of ginger
2 green chillies, seeds removed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Juice of 1 lemon
100g natural yoghurt
(for the raita)
100g natural yoghurt
Small handful fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
Small handful fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
1/2 clove of garlic, finely chopped
Squeeze of lemon juice
Glug of olive oil
Pinch of salt & pepper
The first thing to get sorted is the marinade, for which you’ll need a small blender or hand mixer. You could probably do it in a pestle and mortar, but it would be hard work. In an ideal world, you’re going to marinate the chops over night, but in a worst case scenario, give them at least a couple of hours.
Peel the ginger, take the skin off the garlic and de-seed the chillies before popping them in the blender along with the salt, yoghurt, lemon juice. Next, get your dry spices (cinnamon, cumin, coriander, chilli powder and turmeric) and toast them in a hot pan. You don’t want to burn them, just cook long enough to release their natural oils. A couple of minutes should do it. Now add these to the wet ingredients and blend until you have a smooth mixture.
Place your hops in a bowl, pour the mixture over the chops, and work it into the meat. The mixture is pretty fiery, so I’d suggest that you either use a spoon or latex gloves. Cover the bowl with clingfilm, and then pop it in the fridge over night.
Seeing as you’re all organised, you may as well make the raita now too as this will also benefit from being let to sit over night too. Finely chop the garlic, before mashing it into a paste with your knife blade and a bit of salt. Add this to a small bowl along with the yoghurt, lemon juice, olive oil, a bit of extra salt and a few grindings of black pepper. Finely chop a handful each of coriander and mint leaves, and then add to the bowl and give it a good mix. Cover the bowl with cling film, and stick it in the fridge along with the chops.
And now, the easy bit. Cooking the buggers. The following day, make sure you get your chops and raita out of the fridge at least an hour or two before you cook them. When they’ve reached room temperature, or there abouts, get a griddle pan good and hot, and cook them in batches of 4. Two minutes on each side should do it.
Rest the chops for a few minutes under foil, and then serve with the raita, hot naan or pita bead, and a tomato, red onion, cucumber and fresh herb salad.