Citizens, the cuisine of India’s great city of Lucknow is perhaps my all-time favorite – few things please the palate of TFD more than the intricate flavors of the Maharaja cuisine of Lucknow (known as Awadhi)!
This recipe is quite typical of Awadhi Muslim cuisine – luxurious use of a multitude of spices and rare flavors, unique cooking methods, use of precious edible gold and silver leaf and a tenderness of meat that is truly sumptuous!
As noted on food.ndtv.com:
Ramadan is not only that auspicious month in the Islamic calendar, but also a chance for people across different cultures to get a taste of some of the most mouth-watering and sought after festive dishes, cooked with utmost dexterity.
One such example is the raan, which is popularly cooked during Iftar, and is a must try for all the meat lovers out there.
Once considered a great finger licking experience for the great Mughal Kings, it goes way back to nomadic roots, developing in campfires and military kitchens in Central Asia as food for tribesmen and warriors. This lamb dish is cooked with the toughest cut of the lamb – the hind leg, which is usually used for keema.
The secret to cooking raan lies in taking the toughest meat of the lamb and making it so tender and succulent “that you are able to eat it with a spoon”. Yes, that’s the challenge experts confidently swear on. A decade old trick is in taking half a seer of mutton (0.625 grams) and then cooking it in half a seer of chaach or buttermilk.
This slow cooking in buttermilk is what breaks down the tough membranes and softens the meat.However, different culinary masters have their own tricks to make a perfect raan. Mr. Munaf Kapadia from The Bohri Kitchen reveals, “The secret of that softness in the dish lies in the marination. We usually marinate the raan for over 48 hours and then refrigerate it before cooking it for about an hour or two. This is the trick my mother introduced to us.”
On the other hand, Old World Hospitality’s Chef Rajiv Malhotra says, “Different festivals usually have different styles of raan cooked. But essentially we focus on the quality and size of the meat first, which needs to be that of a lamb and not goat. And after the gruelling marination with ginger paste, papaya paste, malt vinegar and ‘kachri’ powder (which works as a tenderiser), we rub the meat with salt.
The difference lies in keeping the marinated meat in room temperature for hours and letting the spices infuse and absorb themselves into the meat. You could say the entire cooking process from scratch is about six to eight hours, and this actually happens to be the easiest way to cook raan.”
Citizens, I have created a recipe worthy of the sybaritic Maharajas themselves! I have modified the classic recipe with my own spice choices and the Western use of garlic slivers in the meat.
This is a leg of lamb worthy of your most luxurious dinner and friends – I hope you see fit to try it for yourselves! 🙂
Battle on – The GeneralissimoPrint
- 2 ¼ pounds / 1 kg mutton (preferred) or lamb leg
- 4 cloves garlic, cut into slivers
- ½ cup / 100 grams raw papaya
- 1 ½ cups / 300 grams ghee
- 2 leaves Silver foil (varq)
- 1 ¼ tsp. / 5 grams almonds
- Salt to taste
- MASALA ‘A’:
- 1 cup / 250 grams yogurt
- 1 ¼ tsp. / 5 grams Kashmiri red chili powder
- ⅞ cups / 200 grams sliced onions
- 4 tsp. / 20 grams ginger paste
- 4 tsp. / 20 grams garlic paste
- 2 tsp. / 10 grams rose water, Cortas brand strongly-preferred
- A large pinch of saffron
- A drop or two of yellow food coloring, if needed
- MASALA ‘B’:
- ⅞ cups / 200 grams unroasted Cashews
- 5 tsp. / 25 grams Chironji
- 3 tbsp. + 1 tsp. / 50 grams Poppy seeds
- 1 tbsp. roasted gram flour
- 2 tsp. / 10 grams desiccated coconut
- MASALA ‘C’:
- 1 tsp. / 3 grams green cardamom seeds
- 2 tsp. / 6 grams garam masala
- 2 tsp. / 6 grams black peppercorns
- 1 tsp. / 3 grams cumin seeds
- 5 cloves
- ¾ tsp. / 5 grams freshly-grated nutmeg
- ½ tsp. / 2 grams fennel seeds
- ⅛ tsp. / 1 blade of mace
- ½ pound / 250 grams shallots, cut into pieces
- ½ cup / 125 ml lamb stock (preferred) or chicken stock
- Wash and clean the mutton or lamb leg thoroughly, removing all membranes – you can have your butcher do this. Prick it well with a fork and then score the leg of lamb with a sharp knife, making deep cuts in crosses on both sides, and set aside.
- Then apply crushed raw papaya and a teaspoon of salt on the leg. Rub it so that the papaya juice penetrates the meat. Marinate for 2 hours. After 2 hours, make some slits in the meat and put the garlic slivers into the meat throughout the leg.
- Fry sliced onions to a golden brown color and grind to a paste.
- In the yogurt, mix the onion paste plus all the remaining ingredients from masala A. Apply on the leg, rubbing the marinade well so that it coats the leg evenly. Marinate the lamb for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight and for up to 3 days if you’re bold.
- Prepare masala B by slightly dry-roasting in a pan the first three ingredients and grinding to a paste, adding the desiccated coconut. Then grind separately all the ingredients of masala C.
- Then cover with masala B and C, all mixed together.
- The next day, around 3 hours before you want to serve the lamb, preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4.
- Transfer the lamb to a deep roasting tray, pour stock into the tray and loosely cover with foil. Cook as follows: For Rare – 20 minutes per pound/500g plus 20 minutes. For Medium – 25 minutes per pound/500g, plus 25 minutes. Well done – 30 minutes per pound/500g, plus 30 minutes.
- Forty-five minutes before the finished cooking time, add the shallots to the pan and lightly drizzle with oil. With 20 minutes to go, remove the foil so that the lamb browns nicely. Take the meat out of the oven, cover with foil and rest it for 15 to 20 minutes before carving.
- Serve on a large platter garnished with silver leaf and finely-chopped almonds.
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