Lamb Saagwala is a perfect recipe for lovers of Punjabi food. Photo: Bhavna Kalra
When you think of a Punjabi, you don’t picture someone who is dainty. We Punjabis are robust creatures.
There is nothing much that fazes us and our love for food matches our zest for life along with that Patiala Peg we fancy so much.
Our laughter is louder than the death metal band that your teenage neighbour blasts on full volume. Our quest to find the perfect Butter Chicken and Dal Makhani is never ending.
Our food is also like us - rich in flavours - and a lot of things that will make your cardiologist a very rich man.
Ask a Punjabi what will be the last meal of his life and it will inevitably include chicken in some form or the other. And if the Punjabi is a vegetarian throw in some paneer (cottage cheese) Or saag (spinach) and we can die peacefully.
Punjabi cuisine is perhaps one of the most widespread Indian cuisines in the world.
Every restaurant you go to will have a few dishes from the North India, especially from the Punjabi repertoire.
Anyone who loves to eat Indian food would have eaten butter chicken once in their lifetime or at least have heard of it. We all know our local takeaway curry corner and this is perhaps the most ordered dish.
But trust me we do eat a lot of different types of meats and vegetables as well. And when winter sets in Saag (different types of Greens like Spinach, Mustard, Collard, etc.) starts appearing on our dinner tables very frequently.
While vegetarians will take advantage of it by adding “Paneer” to it and Non-vegetarians like me will add different types of meat.
This “Lamb Saagwala” or “Lamb cooked with Greens” is a perfect recipe for lovers of Punjabi food who want to strike the right balance in this very rich cuisine.
I substitute the unhealthy amount of cream, that we so lovingly add with yogurt, which I feel enhances the flavour and makes me feel a little less guilty of overindulgence.
Yoghurt can be replaced with cream for a rich dish. Photo: Bhavna Kalra
Recipe (Cooking time - 1 hour, serves 4 - 6)
For the Gravy (since we will grind the gravy to a paste, I don’t bother chopping the vegetables too finely)
2 medium-sized onions, roughly chopped
3 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 green chillies roughly chopped
2 dry red chilies
1-inch cinnamon stick
3 green cardamoms
2 bay leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ginger paste (I use fresh Ginger, no bottled stuff for me)
1 tsp garlic paste (I use fresh Garlic)
1 tbsp ghee (You can use vegetable oil but Ghee really brings out the flavour)
For the Lamb (You can substitute the lamb with Goat or Chicken as well, cooking times may vary as per the meat)
1 kg lamb, cut into chunks
½ cup yogurt (this must be at room temperature or the it will split and destroy the texture)
350 – 400 gms spinach (I used frozen Spinach out of a bag that I thawed; alternatively you can use mustard greens or kale). The spinach used was around 4 Cups.
Almond flakes and a little extra yogurt to garnish
Preparing the lamb:
Heat ghee in a heavy bottomed pan and brown the lamb cubes on both the sides (at least five to seven minutes on each side). And keep the lamb aside.
Preparing the gravy:
1. Add some more ghee in the same pan that you used to sauté the lamb and add cumin seeds, red chillies, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaves and cloves. Sauté for a few seconds till you can smell the aromas.
2. Add the ginger and garlic pastes, green chillies and onions and sauté till the onions turn translucent.
3. Now add the tomatoes and cook till they become soft.
4. Cool the mixture and blend in a grinder till smooth.
5. Prepare the Greens:
6. Chop the greens and blanche them in hot water for 5 – 10 minutes.
7. Drain them in a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking.
8. Squeeze out all the water and keep aside.
Assembling the dish:
1. In the same pan heat a little more ghee. Add the gravy mixture that we blended earlier and cook on a medium flame till the ghee starts to leave the pan.
2. Now add the lamb, salt, turmeric powder, red chilli & garam masala and sauté. At this stage, you can add ½ cup of hot water and cook on a medium flame till the lamb is done.
3. This process can also be done in a pressure cooker as the lamb takes some time to cook.
4.. Mix the yogurt with a tsp or more of water, stir well and add it to the lamb. Since the yogurt is at room temperature, the consistency of the gravy will be smooth and creamy.
5. Add the blanched spinach and kasuri methi and cook for a further 10 minutes till the greens are incorporated well.
6. Serve hot garnished with almond flakes and yogurt (mixed with a little water so it can be drizzled like cream). The ‘Lamb Saagwala’ is a perfect accompaniment with naan bread.
A Girl from Mumbai, Punjabi by birth and foodie by nature, Bhavna's life revolves around food. After finding some very questionable Indian food in Perth, Bhavna decided to start cooking and blogging about the food that she loves. Her blog is her extension for her love for her passion for food.