The Indian name of this dish translates literally as ‘five fingers of ginger’, but ‘fingers’ alludes to the bones in a small rack of lamb. Use good-quality meat, as the cooking process is short and does not allow for tenderising. Also, the better the meat, the better the spices will penetrate.
RACKS OF LAMB 4 × 4-bone racks, about 800g (1lb 12oz) total weight
SALT 2 teaspoons, or to taste
LEMON JUICE 1 tablespoon
GROUND TURMERIC ½ teaspoon
CUMIN SEEDS 1 teaspoon
GREEN CARDAMOM PODS 4, lightly crushed
CINNAMON STICK 2.5cm (1in) piece
FRESH ROOT GINGER 7.5cm (3in) piece, peeled
GARLIC 4–5 cloves, peeled
FRESH GREEN CHILLIES 2 large finger-type
BLACK PEPPERCORNS 4–5
THICK GREEK YOGURT 200ml (7fl oz)
CHOPPED CORIANDER STEMS 1 tablespoon
SUNFLOWER OIL 2 tablespoons, plus extra for greasing (optional)
BOILED POTATOES to serve (optional)
FOR THE GRAVY
ONIONS 2, sliced
SUNFLOWER OIL 1 tablespoon
TOMATOES, 2 chopped
CHOPPED FRESH CORIANDER OR MINT 1–2 tablespoons, for sprinkling (optional)
SALT AND FRESHLY GROUND BLACK PEPPER
FOR THE SALAD
RED ONION 1, thinly sliced
MANGO 1 small and ripe, stoned, peeled and cut into chunks
FRESH GREEN CHILLI 1, sliced
BABY PLUM TOMATOES 6, halved
FRESH MINT 1 handful
CUCUMBER ½, sliced
LIME JUICE from 1 lime
SUNFLOWER OIL 1 tablespoon
Score the fat part of the racks in a regular criss-cross pattern with a sharp knife. Rub in some of the salt, lemon juice and turmeric, then set aside in a lidded container or dish just large enough to hold them. If you wish, you may cut the racks into portions of 3 or 4 bones each, depending on how many people you are serving.
Put the cumin, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves in a small frying pan and toast them gently over a low heat until aromatic and lightly coloured. They must not burn, so keep shaking the pan.
Transfer the contents of the pan to a blender and add all the remaining ingredients. Whiz to a fine paste. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Coat the racks thoroughly with the paste, then cover tightly and leave at cool room temperature for 2–3 hours. Transfer to the refrigerator and marinate for 1–4 days.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400ºF/Gas Mark 6. Transfer the racks to a lightly greased or nonstick roasting tray, fat-side up. Place in the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 180ºC/350ºF/ Gas Mark 4. Roast for about 20 minutes, turning once or twice, then lower the temperature to 150ºC/300ºF/Gas Mark 2 and roast for about another 8 minutes – the time depends on how long the racks have marinated. Remember that the meat should remain slightly pink inside, otherwise it is overcooked. Set the racks aside and keep warm.
To make the gravy, take a clean pan and fry the onions in the oil. When the onions are soft and translucent, add the tomatoes and fry for 1–2 minutes. Tip in the juices from the roasting tray and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary, then add the chopped coriander or mint, if using. Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss well. Serve the meat with the salad and some boiled potatoes, if you wish, offering the gravy separately.
The racks can be grilled or barbecued if you wish, but in that case, scrape off most of the marinade so that they will cook thoroughly. The excess marinade can be used to make a gravy, or kept for use in another dish.
This recipe is from Simple Spice by Cyrus Todiwala