As you know already, Dan, our chef collaBREWator has worked at some pretty fantastic restaurants, including Straights of Malacca, a Malaysian fine dining restaurant. One of his absolute favorite dishes to make and eat is this ridiculously tasty, authentic curry. “A sure thing on my future restaurant menu,” he exclaims with aplomb.
His take on the dish is spicy, complex and oh so delicious. Filled with fresh lemongrass, ginger, curry leaves, turmeric and galangal, this beautiful red curry is not just delicious, but truly legit. It sounds a little scary, but these authentic ingredients can be found. Locally to me in Cincinnati, I was able to find all of these (except the curry leaves) at Jungle Jim’s. You can also try an Asian market or specialty store for all plus the curry leaves, or you can try and order them online.
After trying the dish myself, I assure you that if I ever fulfill my own lifelong dream of owning a brewpub (girls can dream), I wholeheartedly agree that it would have a spot on the menu.
There were too many photos from this dinner to choose from, so I’ll just let the pictures do the talking:
The night we made this we all stuffed ourselves with fiery curry until we were so full that we hurt. I then continued to eat the leftovers throughout the whole week. I’m still not sick of it.
Authentic Lamb Curry
- Lamb leg (4+ lbs.)
- 5 large yellow onions
- 6 stalks lemongrass
- 60 g fresh turmeric root
- 2-3 inches galangal
- 5 inches fresh, peeled ginger root
- 10 g curry leaves
- 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
- 1/2 cup tomato paste
- 1/2 – 1 cup chili paste (we used Sambal Oelek)
- 4 tbsp garam masala (recommend the widely available Laxmi brand, plus or minus some extra clove or cardamom which can mask the gaminess of lamb. Customize to your preference.
- 1 can full fat coconut milk
- ample freshly chopped cilantro/mint/scallion to garnish, as desired
- salt to taste
Dice onions, turmeric, galangal and 3 inches of ginger. No need to peel the galangal or turmeric. For the turmeric, be careful, it will stain everything.
Remove any tough, discolored outer husks of lemongrass stalks then then finely slice 5 of them, reserve 1. Using your sharpest knife will help with this task.
Heat 1 cup oil in a large skillet or wok until it starts to smoke. Start by frying curry leaves until dark (~5-10 seconds). Use a spatter guard if you have one.
Add chopped lemongrass, turmeric, galangal, ginger root and onion to the oil. Sweat until soft, then add tomato paste. Stir frequently.
While sweating, cut lamb pieces into desired size (I like large 1 1/2 inch cubes).
Cut remaining lemongrass and ginger into 3-4 pieces and place in deep pot. Add cut up lamb on top of these aromatics and cover with water. Simmer until water is reduced by 3/4. This will take about an hour, but keep an eye on it.
Remove sweated out onions and herbs and puree in a powerful blender or food processor. Add just enough canola oil so that it will blend. Then add back to sauté pan or wok with chili paste and cook, stirring frequently, until it turns brown (~3-4 minutes).
Once the lamb is fairly tender, remove the lemongrass and ginger and drain water. Add 1/2 – 3/4 of curry paste to lamb and continue cooking until lamb is thoroughly hot and fork tender. Make sure to season well with salt. Freeze the leftover curry paste and use it to make a version with chicken.
At the very end, stir in 1 can of coconut milk and heat through. Garnish with cilantro, thinly sliced mint and/or sliced scallions.
For beers to pair with this meal, you could go a couple different ways. A more malt forward beer will balance out the spice in this dish. A nice American amber with West coast hops would be nice – the slight hop bitterness will help cleanse the palate and should resonate with the cilantro and lemongrass.
Since I like a little heat, I decided on Stone Cali-Belgique. It’s Stone IPA but with a Belgian yeast. It has a medium/light body, with plenty of balanced hop flavor and bitterness. The hops definitely amplify the heat of the food, but I like that. A Belgian dubbel like Chimay Red might be another really nice option for someone who doesn’t like a whole lot of heat. It’ll still have those great Belgian yeast flavors with a much more malt forward presence, plus flavors of dried fruits that would work great with the curry. The next time I make this I plan on trying that combination.
Don’t be scared to make this curry – it is absolutely delicious and will impress the hell out of your friends and family.