No Christmas is complete without a curry!
While Christmas has always been my mother’s domain, living in Asia and having Christmas with my appa’s side of the family meant some things were tweaked ever so slightly. In fact we would have two Christmas dinners some years, depending on the anticipated crowd. One with just the nuclear family which would be more traditional Danish fare. While the other with all 10 siblings with their families and sometimes even a few friends, would see the main roast being turkey or lamb (so we would have Halal options too) and of course a standby curry, just in case.
While my appa enjoys and looks forward to Danish Christmas food, without fail by the end of the night (despite a full roast dinner!) he would be asking my mum for some proper (meaning Indian) food! And while it is surprising, this did not only hold true for him but a lot of his siblings as well. As such we always had a standby curry around, just in case. And because it was a time of celebration, we would have mutton curry/varuval. Mostly because mutton takes ages to make, so all that effort is usually for a celebration or special event.
And while I would like to think that this is just a thing my family does, we are hardly unique, as a lot of my friends who celebrate Christmas back home do the same. It’s either a roast dinner, local food (saved for special occasions) or a combination of both.
So given that I had the day off today and it has been a while since we had a good ol varuval (as I have been reminded way too often by a certain someone), I decided to continue with the tradition and made some lamb varuval (I could not get mutton at the butchers sadly) with enough to be set aside in the freezer for a later date.
I mean what’s not hyggeligt about a hearty curry on a cold winters night?
1 tsp ginger paste
3 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder – make it 2 if you like it spicy
Pinch of salt
Let marinade overnight
The masala/curry/ gravy – whatever you wanna call it
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of curry leaves – Waitrose has fresh curry leaves
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star Anise
1 tsp cumin seeds
0.5 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tbsp garlic paste
1 red onion diced
2 tomatoes diced
0.5 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder
2 heaped tsp of coriander powder
2 tsp garam masala
Salt to taste
1 tsp ground black pepper
Depending on the cut of meat you get, lamb/mutton can take up to 1.5 – 2 hours to become nice and tender. We got lamb cubes from the butcher and it took about an hour of boiling before it started getting nice and tender, and then a further 30 minutes before it reduced. So total about 1.5 hours of cooking. You can always just taste the lamb/mutton and let it cook for longer on a simmer.
1. Marinade lamb overnight or for at least one hour with the marinade.
2. Heat up oil in a pot and fry the meat until lightly browned on the outside.
3. Add approx 250ml of water to pot (till covers meat) and bring to a boil before allowing to simmer.
4. Let simmer for about 1 – 1.5 hour till the meat is tender.
5. Once the lamb has simmered for about an hour, start preparing the base.
6. Fry spices and curry leaves in oil, once fragrant add garlic paste and onions and fry till translucent.
7. Add tomatoes and continue to cook on a low – medium heat till the tomatoes start to breakdown.
8. Add ground spices and continue to fry till fragrant then add about 100ml of water so that you get a paste and let it continue to cook till it starts to boil.
9. Then add to lamb that has been simmering away, and let it continue to simmer till it reduces.
10. Once it has thickened and become quite dry add the ground pepper and give it a good stir.
11. Add some chopped cilantro for garnish and serve!