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Cardamom-Flavored Lamb Chops (Tabak Maaz)

Lamb Chops (Photo by Stuart Webster/flickr)

Lamb Chops (Photo by Stuart Webster/flickr)

Chops make their appearance in various guises during a Kashmiri feast and this is one of several versions of this Kasmiri dish. The main flavoring is cardamom, both from the large brown pods and from cardamom powder. The chops are first cooked in a cardamom-flavoured milk and then fried and finally simmered in yogurt and spices and flavored with saffron and Kasmiri garam masala.


8 lamb chops scored twice with a sharp knife across the outside fat to prevent curling when cooking
2 cups milk
3 large brown cardamom pods, bruised
1/2 tsp salt
5 tsp ghee
2 finely chopped medium onions
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
1 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp tumeric powder
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fennel seeds
8 cloves
2 cm/ 3/4 inch cinnamon stick
1 1/2 lightly whisked cups yoghurt
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp saffron threads, steeped for 15 minutes in 1 tbsp hot milk
1/2 tsp Kasmiri garam masala


Place the chops in a heavy-bottomed saucepan with the milk, cardamom pods and salt and bring to the boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.Turn the chops over once during this time. Remove and drain on absorbent paper. Discard the liquid.

Heat the ghee in a heavy-bottomed frying pan, fry the drained chopsso that they brown well on both sides. Remove to a plate. Add the chopped onions, ginger and garlic to the remaining oil and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add the chillu powder, tumeric, cardamom, black pepper and salt; stir-fry for a further 2 minutes.

Grind the fennel seeds, cloved and cinnamon in a coffee grinder or spice-mill and add to the mixture.

Gradually stir in the yoghurt, return the chops to the frying pan and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Stir in the water and the saffron threads and milk and continue cooking until all the liquid is absorbed and the chops are tender. Some oil will have separated out. Lift the chops and shake free of any remaining oil. Arrange the chops on a serving platter. Sprinkle with the garam masala.

Recipe excerpted from Moghul Cooking: India's Courtly Cuisine by Joyce Westrip (Serif, 1997)

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