Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Hyderabadi Lamb Shanks: Chef Alfred Prasad

When Chef Alfred Prasad received a Michelin star at the age of 29, he became the youngest Indian chef to do so. Since 2002, he has been the Executive Chef at London's acclaimed Tamarind of Mayfair, introducing the city to the rich bouquet of flavours that is Indian gastronomy at its best. Born in the south of India, Prasad is a long way from home, but he has flourished as a culinary ambassador, revered by his peers across the industry and described by Gordon Ramsey as a 'man always pushing the boundaries, seeking out new spices and combinations'. A graduate of Chennai’s Institute of Hotel Management, Alfred was hand-picked along with five others from all over India to undergo advanced chef training in New Delhi at the ITC Maurya, home to the legendary Bukhara restaurant. "That was where my foundational knowledge of Indian cuisine was established." In 1999, he came to London working at Veeraswamy on Regent Street as a sous chef, before joining Tamarind in 2001. Within a year, he was promoted from sous chef to executive chef, retained the restaurant's Michelin star and thus became the youngest Indian chef to receive a Michelin star, an honour which put him firmly on the world’s culinary map.

Chef Alfred Prasad, Tamarind

Chef Prasad's seasonal menus at Tamarind offer imaginative adaptations of the rich cuisine of the North, such as delicately spiced, succulent kababs and aromatic curries. Also featured are the expansive flavours of Southern India including coconut-based curries and seafood typical of its coastline, with dishes such as Malabar Prawns with sautéed onions, chilli, fenugreek seeds and coconut, or Lobster Masala with browned shallots, tomatoes and spices. Some of his recipes are also derived from traditional Moghul cuisine where fish, meat and game are cooked in the authentic tandoor oven style of North West India, and present an eclectic and expansive Indian repertoire, bursting with flavour and originality.  

The elegant table settings at Tamarind of Mayfair

Tamarind Kabab Appetizer Selection: Tiger prawn, monkfish, chicken supreme and lamb chop

Kalonji Jhinga, grilled jumbo tiger prawns marinated with yoghurt, ginger, 
paprika, ground spices and toasted nigella seeds 

Murgh Makhni in creamed fresh tomatoes flavoured with ginger, fenugreek leaves and honey 

Hyderabadi Lamb Shank, slow-cooked with turmeric, yoghurt and freshly ground spices

Chef Prasad's mouth-watering menus put an exciting 21st-century spin on dishes, delicately balancing creativity and authenticity. His Hyderabadi Lamb Shank Curry, which is on the menu at Tamarind, celebrates food from the Nizams of Hyderabad, an intoxicating mix of Arabic, Turkish, Moghul and regional Indian cuisine. This recipe by him, which I found on Great British Chefsstarts with browning onions, ginger, garlic, yoghurt and ground spices, then adding the seared lamb shanks and slow-cooking them for just over a hour until they become meltingly tender. I tweaked his recipe slightly and the dish turned out beautifully, infused with the glorious flavours of Chef Prasad's inspired culinary vision. With the prices at Tamarind being quite steep, this may the closest I get to enjoying his food!

The cinnamon, cardamom and cloves are quickly sautéed over medium high for 30 seconds

Diced onions are added and cooked for about 20-25 minutes until they're lightly golden brown

The onion mixture after 25 minutes

The lamb shanks are patted dry so they splatter in the oil as they're browned

The lamb shanks are browned on each side then set aside

3 tablespoons of minced ginger and garlic is added

Salt, turmeric, chilli, cumin and coriander powders are added and sautéed for 5 minutes, then the yoghurt is combined and sautéed for another 5 minutes over high heat

Chopped tomatoes are added to the mixture and sautéed another 5 minutes

The browned lamb shanks are returned to the pot with enough hot water to cover them and brought to a boil, then covered and simmered for 1 1/2 hours

After 90 minutes, the lamb shanks are tender and the sauce has reduced somewhat

The lamb is removed and set aside briefly

The sauce is strained and the liquid is brought to a boil to reduce

I found the sauce was looking too thin, so I puréed the solids and added it to the sauce, producing  a thicker richer consistency

The cooked lamb shanks are returned back into the sauce, 
then covered and simmered for a further 15 minutes

I ladled the extra sauce into a bowl — it was too good to waste!

Topped with sauce and garnished with a little cilantro, the lamb shanks were delicious

Braised Hyderabadi Lamb Shanks
Serves 2
Recipe courtesy of Chef Alfred Prasad, Tamarind London

2 lamb shanks, washed and patted dry
4 tbsp vegetable oil 
4 sticks of cinnamon 
4 cardamom pods
6 cloves 
3 medium onions, peeled and finely sliced 
3 tbsp ginger & garlic paste 
1 tsp turmeric powder 
1 tsp chilli powder 
2 tsp ground cumin 
2 tbsp ground coriander 
4 tbsp plain Greek yoghurt 
3 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped 
1/2 tsp Garam Masala  
1/2 bunch cilantro leaves, washed and chopped
Kosher Salt

Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, then add the cinnamon, cardamom and cloves and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the sliced onions and sauté, stirring occasionally, until they're golden brown, about 20 minutes. Chef Prasad suggests adding the lamb shanks at this point and cooking over high heat for five minutes, stirring constantly, but I found that the onions were starting to burn so I browned the shanks on their own, then set them aside, adding them after the tomatoes have cooked.

In the same pot, add the ginger garlic paste and stir well for a couple of minutes. Add the salt, turmeric, chilli, cumin and coriander powders and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the yoghurt and sauté for another 5 minutes over high heat. Stir in the chopped tomato and allow to simmer for 5 minutes, or until the oil separates from the masala.

Add the lamb shanks and pour enough hot water to cover them, and bring to a boil. Cover with a lid, then simmer and cook until the lamb is tender, about 60-90 minutes. Remove from the heat, and using a pair of tongs transfer the shanks to bowl and strain the cooking liquid. Cook the strained liquid for 10-15 minutes, or until it has reduced to the desired consistency and check seasoning.

To finish, transfer the cooked lamb shanks back into the sauce, then cover and simmer for a further 15 minutes. I found the sauce too thin and puréed the solids from the sauce and added them to the liquid, with spectacular results! To serve, sprinkle with garam masala and chopped cilantro and serve immediately. The lamb shanks are delicious served with basmati rice and some warm naan.

I served the Lamb Shanks with rice, pappadam and warm naan brushed with melted ghee 
and sprinkled with sesame seeds