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19 February 2012

Tandoori Lamb, Pilau Rice and Mint & Cuc Raita

For 4 extraordinary years we lived in East London. The vibe in this area was always on. From Sundays of markets and fine food from Spitalfields and Upmarket to bar-hopping and galleries of Shoreditch, flowers and cupcakes on Colombia Road, beers at The Ten Bells and curry nights on Brick Lane. We enjoyed a sensational time and made friendships that will last a lifetime. It was a moment time that spanned several years as transients with no real responsibilities, while travelling through Europe on the odd weekend was the way we happily existed.   We enjoyed  regular gatherings with friends on and off Brick Lane where you negotiated more food than you would ever eat for a fixed price. I have still not had a Peshwari Naan that amazing since. At that, this week’s Friday night dinner is a Lamb Tandoori, and I must say that for me the Pilau rice became the unexpected hero of the dish with its foreign spices and amazing aroma’s. Enjoy this, I hope it transports you back to that carefree time in your 20’s that makes you smile.  serves 4.

Prep time: approx. 30 min. Soaking time for rice: 30 min. cooking time: about 30 min

Kitchen stuff needed: Sharp knife, chopping board, Grill/griddle, cling wrap, 3 serving bowls, large saucepan.

Ingredients from the garden:
20 x mint leaves – chopped finely
1 x cucumber – deseeded and finely chopped

Other Ingredients:
Tandoori Lamb:
6 x Lamb fillets
2 x tablespoons tandoori paste
1.5 x cup natural yogurt (half will be used for raita)

Pilau Rice:
1.5 cups x basmati rice (for a more authentic flavour and texture it is best not to use easy-cook rice; however, it will still work and be very tasty if you do)
1 x medium onion, finely chopped
40gm x butter, plus extra to serve
4 x cardamom pods (smashed slightly)
8 x cloves
1 x cinnamon sticks
1 x teaspoon cumin seeds
Pinch saffron threads/or pinch of turmeric if it’s not payday!
2 bay leaves
700ml/1 pint hot chicken stock, vegetable stock or water

Let’s do it:

1. Combine well lamb with tandoori paste and half yogurt in a large bowl. Cover with cling wrap and pop in fridge (you can make a day ahead if you like or rest for 20 min while you do rice.)
2. Rinse rice through a sieve and then cover with water and leave to soak for 30 min.
3. After 30 min, in saucepan, add butter, onion, cinnamon, cumin, cloves, and cardamom. Bay leaves and saffron. Stir until onions are soft and translucent.
4. Strain rice and add, giving a good stir until well combined with all that spicy buttery goodness.
5. Add stock and bring to the boil and then immediately turn down to a simmer, add tight lid and steam on low for 18 min. Do not be tempted to open lid or you will spoil the surprise. Trust me on this!
6. In separate bowl combine yogurt, mint and cucumber to make your raita. Cover and pop in fridge.
7. Once rice cooking time is up, take of the lid and enjoy the fragrant aromas of all that spicy rice. Using a fork fluff up the rice and add a bit more butter and put lid back on.
8. Using a grill, grill to your liking the lamb fillets for about 4 minutes each side. (less if you like it very rare)
9. Rest lamb under some foil for a few minutes while you prep the rest.
10.         Pop rice out in big serving bowl, along with Raita in a side bowl.
11.         Slice as you like the lamb and enjoy this wonderful tasty Friday night takeaway cooked at home.

Enjoy with an ice-cold longneck Kingfisher (Indian beer, ask your speciality beer man!) or a fine NZ north island Savignon Blanc

Soundtrack for some Friday night curry: Kala by M.I.A


  1. Man I miss Peshwari Naan. This sounds delicious, I've never made Pilau rice, very keen to give it a go.

    1. you should definitely give it a go. I had a great chat to my little indian grocer man about his spices. These were just using the basics really, there are some really unusual spices out there that I'd like to get more imaginative with! Let me know how it goes.. its so good :)