If the Turkey for Christmas is getting a bit hackneyed and the ham has soured, consider the Raan dish. I won’t bother with giving you the exact details in grams ounces or kilos. Try and create your own Raan by just imagining tasting the combination of the different herbs, spices and ingredients.
You know that if you put in a kilo of salt the dish is likely to be very salty. Cooking is very much anticipating how things will taste by mixing and imagining the taste of the mixed ingredients before cooking. The religious following of recipes with the book propped up against the kitchen whisk is never going to be a surprise. Not as a failed dish nor of a basking in the glory of an unimaginable masterpiece, hailed by Rick Stein, Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver and all your guests for years to come. Take the risk!
So, here we go. The bulk of this dish is mutton or at least a large leg of sheep. You need a well aged leg not a lamb leg although that is permissible as well. This dish is Northern India and as you travel up further north, the Indian cuisine starts to be less chilli hot and becomes more infused with the sweetness of yoghurt and dried fruit, raisins, currants etc. of the Northern regions.
The secret of this dish is that the leg of mutton is allowed to cure or ‘cook’ for about three days in the fridge by the acidity of the marinade. The marinade has to be enough to cover the meat. Voila, you need plenty of good quality yoghurt, the juice of about 4 lemons about 200 grams of raisons and currants, a tablespoon of turmeric, a couple of teaspoons of cinnamon, about 4 red-hot chillies, some cloves and about two teaspoons of cardamom, salt and sugar.
Mix the marinade in a mixer and let stand for about one hour, mix again. In the meantime pierce the leg and insert cloves of garlic. Good juicy garlic and not the cheap Chinese tasteless carton stuff. Poor the marinade over the lamb in a dish large enough to hold the leg.
Put in the fridge and leave for about two to three days occasionally turning the meat.
Then… as the excitement mounts…pre-heat oven to 200c and cook the lamb for about 30 minutes. Turn heat to 160c and cook 45 minutes for every kilo of the meat. It is cooked when the meat falls off the bone. When it does. Turn off the oven. Boil basmati rice.
I was amazed some years ago when we had Japanese students living in our house they were using an electric rice cooker. When I told them I thought the Japanese had invented boiling rice, they smiled politely but they never tried my system. She said, oh no… too risky! Can you believe it?
Here is how to boil rice; Just cover the rice with one finger digit of water on top of the rice and bring quickly to boil without the lid on. When water is disappearing and holes appear in the rice, put on the lid and turn the gas off. Wait for about twenty minutes and the rice should be dry crumbly and cooked. Perfect
Now, this is the important bit… Break the lamb into bite size chunks, put on the plate with the rice and pour some of the marinade over the lot. Some chutney or cucumber with yoghurt as a side dish compliments the dinner. Have it with chilled water with lime slices floating on top. Don’t muck around with wine. It spoils it. Have it afterwards.
Enjoy and let me know the results.