19 August 2007

Mock Bunny Chow

M and I had a house re-warming party on Friday. A few friends attended (short notice) and I made Durban curry for bunny chows. M went and got a bunch of fresh-baked rolls, and I made this in the morning. Tragically, we were both too shattered at the end of the night to clean up fully, and the leftovers spent the night on the stove, so we didn't get to enjoy the second-day curry. We did bring back some stuff from South Africa, but I refused to lug Durban curry powder around with me, stinking up the luggage. So this was an experiment to see if I could duplicate the style of Durban curry without using actual Durban curry. Aleppo chili to the rescue! I'd been thinking about this for a while, that one could mix the very flavorful, but not very spicy aleppo chili with regular curry powder and get the intense chili flavor of Durban curry. It is possible to order Durban curry mix from several places in the Victoria Spice Market in Durban. They'll ship anywhere in the world, but one worries about safety. A lot of the deep red color associated with Durban curry comes from tartrazine-based red dye, which is not good for you.

This is all based off our friend Gertie Sumner's lamb stew recipe, which is sort of Durban curry without the curry and is simply awesome. The only ingredients I used that are specifically South African (as in imported by me) are the beef-flavour powder--which is actually vegetarian--and the tomato paste, which in SA comes in plastic packets rather than cans, which makes just too much sense.

I think this recipe could maybe stand the addition of a good shot of paprika for a bit more color, but the taste as it stands is awesome, so I'm not going to mess with it. This is by far the best curry I've ever made.

Durban Curry

2 lbs lamb stew meat (I used coarse-ground lamb with good effect)
2 tsp oil (I used olive)
3 medium onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons good (mild) curry powder
As much Aleppo chili as you can take (I think I used a full quarter-cup!)
3 medium-large potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2" cubes
1/2 can tomato paste
2 medium fresh tomatoes, diced or about a can of diced tomatoes
1 tsp Inamann's beef powder, or your own stock cube/stock/flavor powder combination
2 bay leaves
1 stick cinnamon
1 star anise
2 black cardamom pods (not traditional, but used on a whim and loved the musky flavor)
1-2 tablespoons apricot jam

1.) In a large, heavy, non-reactive pot, brown the lamb in batches, keeping it spaced out in the bottom of the pot so it doesn't boil. Set the lamb to the side, add oil to pan, then the onions and fry until they become translucent and start to break down. (This is very important, as having chunks of onion in the final product ruins the texture.)

2.) Add the curry powder and Aleppo to the frying onions and stir until fragrant (about a minute). Re-add the lamb and all other ingredients, along with water to cover. Bring to simmer and simmer one hour. Halfway through simmering, taste for salt and heat. Add salt and more Aleppo to taste.

Serve in hollowed-out bread rolls.

Serves 12.

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