Kashmiri Lamb Dumpukht
‘Dumpukht’ cookery was made popular in India by the Moghul courts, starting around the 16th century. Meat or rice dishes were semi-prepared, or else, in the case of meats, they were thoroughly marinated, and then put in a pot with a lid that was sealed shut with dough. The pot was placed on lightly smouldering embers, and some embers were also placed on top of the lid, thus forming a kind of slow-cooking oven. This cooking style is still popular in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. This is a royal-style dish, rich with almonds and saffron that are native to Kashmir, yet it is quite light. The quantities can easily be doubled. For a festive meal, serve with Aubergines in a North-south Sesame or Peanut Sauce and a rice dish.
- 560 g/1¼ lb boneless lamb, preferably from the shoulder, cut into 2.5–4-cm/1–1½-inch cubes
- 250 ml/8 fl oz full-fat yoghurt, preferably Greek or ‘bio’, lightly beaten with a fork until smooth
- 1½ tsp garam masala, preferably home-made
- ¾ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1½ tsp salt
- 10 cardamom pods
- ¼ tsp peppercorns
- ½ tsp saffron threads, crumbled
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp sultanas
- 20 whole almonds, preferably skinned
Combine all the ingredients except the almonds in a non-reactive (ceramic, glass or stainless steel) bowl. Prick the meat with the tip of a knife so that the marinade can penetrate well. Mix thoroughly, cover and refrigerate overnight, or up to 24 hours.
Put the almonds in a heatproof bowl. Pour over enough boiling water to cover them and leave to soak overnight, or up to 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 160ºC/gas mark 3.
Lift the almonds out of their soaking liquid and peel them if they are not already skinned. Combine the meat, its marinade and the almonds in a flameproof pan. Bring to a low simmer over a medium–low heat, stirring all the time so that the yoghurt does not curdle. Turn off the heat. Cover the pan first with foil, crimping it tightly, and then with its lid. Place in the oven for 60–75 minutes, testing after an hour to see if the meat is tender; if not, return to the oven for 15 minutes.