Recipe Source: Husain, Salma. The Emperor's Table. Roli Books, New Delhi, 2008 p. 92
I was initially attracted to this dish for two reasons: cardamom and lamb. I adore cardamom, and it's not very usual to find it in savory dishes. I see it sometimes, but the vast majority of the time it seems to be relegated to cookies and jams. Lamb is my favorite form of meat. I didn't grow up eating it, but ever since the first time I tried it I've been absolutely hooked. I should therefore have loved this dish. Unfortunately, I did not love this dish. I found it kind of bland. The cardamom flavor didn't come through all that much and the lamb flavor was far too mild to be noticeable. But I think that the real heart of my distaste was the yogurt, which separated into curds as soon as it hit the sauce.
I did make one major change, and that's ghee. I don't tend to use it, because if my husband caught me with a jar of clarified butter I think he'd probably lose his mind. I used olive oil instead, olive oil being my default cooking fat. I also used the food processor instead of pounding the lamb on a smooth stone with a wooden mallet until it turned to pulp. I just don't have that kind of time, or a clean smooth surfaced stone, or a wooden mallet.
While I did not enjoy this dish in the slightest, my husband really did, so I guess a lot of my dislike must be down to personal taste. I'd serve this to someone who thought Indian food always had to scald the mouth.
Gushtaba (serves 4; approx. $5.11/serving)
1 1/2 lb boneless leg of lamb
Pinch of kosher salt
3 teaspoons dried ginger
1 teaspoon dried cardamom
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
2 cinnamon sticks
1 lb Greek yogurt, whisked
1 teaspoon fennel powder
- Food processor
- Saute pan
- Combine the meat, kosher salt, ginger and cardamom in the food processor. Process to a paste.
- Shape the meat pulp into meatballs of about 2" diameter.
- Put the meatballs in the saucepan with roughly enough water to cover. Boil about 5 minutes, stirring very gently on occasion. Remove from the water.
- Heat the olive oil in the saute pan.
- Add the cinnamon sticks and yogurt. Stir until the color changes to light brown.
- Add 1 1/2 cups water, the fennel and the lamb balls.
- Bring to a boil and boil 5 minutes, then reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.