Lamb leg is ideal for stewing or braising because it is moist and tender when well cooked. The amount of curry powder used and the hotness of the curry seasoning mixture can be varied to suit your own taste. Some of the spices in the curry powder come whole and some are already ground; when possible, buy the whole seeds and grind them yourself for a fresher and better flavor. If you decide not to make your own curry powder, it is widely available in most markets.
The pear chutney is easy to make and can be prepared weeks ahead, as it keeps well refrigerated. Many commercial chutneys are available, if you don’t have the time to make the one here.—Jacques Pépin
For the curry seasoning mixture
1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the stew
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 pounds lamb leg meat, as lean as possible, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup curry seasoning mixture (see above)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup diced (1/4-inch) onions
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped tomato flesh, seeds and skin removed (from 2 large tomatoes) (see Note)
1 pound apples (about 3), unpeeled, stems and cores removed, cut into 1/2-inch dice (2 1/2 cups)
6 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed, and chopped fine (1 tablespoon)
2 bananas, peeled and sliced (1 1/2 cups)
2. Heat the butter in a large saucepan. When hot, add the meat in one layer. Sprinkle with the salt, and brown on all sides over medium to high heat for about 10 minutes. Mix the curry seasoning with the flour in a bowl, then stir it and the onions into the pan containing the meat. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the wine, water, and remaining stew ingredients, and mix them in. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to low, and boil gently for 45 minutes. At this point, the meat should be tender when pierced with the point of a knife; if still tough, cook a little longer. If an excessive amount of liquid remains, continue boiling the stew, uncovered, to reduce the sauce further.
3. To serve, spoon the stew onto a large serving platter. Scatter the warm okra and a few mint leaves on top, and serve with the pear chutney and rice on the side.
Note: To Peel and Seed a Tomato
There are several ways to peel a tomato: Holding it over the flame of a gas stove not only chars the skin, which then will peel off, but also gives the tomato a mildly smoky taste. If the tomato is a bit firm, you can peel it with a good vegetable peeler or a knife. If, however, you have a lot of tomatoes to peel, the easiest way is first to remove their stems with the point of a knife, and then to drop the tomatoes into boiling water to cover. Leave them in the water from 10 to 30 seconds, depending on their ripeness, with the ripest ones needing the least time. Remove with a skimmer, and cool for a few minutes at room temperature.
To seed a tomato: Cut the tomato crosswise (not through the stem) into halves, which will expose all the little pockets of seeds. Holding a tomato upside down over a bowl, squeeze it gently to extrude the seeds. Repeat with the other tomato half. You now have pure tomato flesh; the seeds and skin can be used in stock, and the flesh can be diced, julienned, or chopped for sauteing or for use in a fresh tomato sauce, salad, or as a garnish.
Recipe © 2001 Jacques Pepin. All rights reserved.