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! I am an extreme fan of this type of cuisine and cooking and I hope that my enthusiasm will prove to be equally compelling to you as you evaluate my recipe, Citizens! Should you ever be fortunate enough to find yourself in the gastronomic haven that is Lucknow, please do try this dish before you leave! 🙂
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