Aromatic Tomato Lamb Curry

A friend of mine is in lockdown on Cowes. There are pros and cons for her and her husband but a very big pro is www.thetomatostall who operate a local box scheme. She is about to make Brown Tom (a moreish, herby, cheesy tomato gratin; pg 94 The Big Red Book of Tomatoes) and suggested cooking the finely chopped onions that go into the bread crumb (brown) layered up with thickly sliced tomatoes although I specify grating them finely and leaving them raw. It’s an idea I’ll be trying myself. I’ve just sent her this recipe, one of the tomato-based recipes I’ve cooked twice in the last week. It’s a Maharashtrian Hindu recipe originally made with mutton from Christine Mansfield’s stunningly beautiful vast and very heavy bright yellow Taste of India. It is aromatic rather than hot and begins by making a no-fuss tomato gravy flavoured with cloves and cardamom which provides the liquid for the curry. More cloves and cardamom, quite a lot of gently softened red onion, garlic and ginger and a couple of bay leaves provide a surprising amount of flavour. Last night we had it with leftover nan and pilau rice from a very welcome, very appreciated home delivery curry (Indian Zing in Hammersmith, and the time before with plain basmati and lightly cooked asparagus, both times with mango chutney (craving well done naan). I plan to try it with chicken and prawns.

Serves 4

Prep: 35 min

Cook: 70 min

for the tomato gravy:

600g vine tomatoes

2 tbsp vegetable oil

4 cloves

1 cardamom pod

for the curry:

approx 500g  red onions

2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 bay leaves

4 cardamom

4 cloves

6 garlic cloves

25g ginger

800g diced lamb neck fillet or leg steaks

3 tbsp chopped coriander

     Quarter the tomatoes. Heat the oil in a spacious, lidded sauté pan over a medium and stir-fry the cloves and lightly crushed cardamom for a minute until fragrant. Stir in the tomatoes and cook, covered, over a low heat for 30 minutes until very soft. Pass through sieve and discard the seeds. Meanwhile, halve, peel and finely slice the onions. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a spacious, lidded frying pan over a low medium-low and stir-fry the bay leaves, crushed cardamom and cloves for a minute until fragrant. Stir in the onion, followed by peeled and finely chopped or grated garlic and ginger. Cook, covered, for 10 minutes, giving an occasional stir, and when pale pink, add the meat, stirring to combine. Cover and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes or until the meat gets very juicy. Add the tomato gravy and 1 tsp salt, then cover and simmer gently stirring occasionally for 40 minutes or until the meat is tender. Check the seasoning, stir through the coriander and serve. Thank you Christine.