How often do you use Tamarind in your cookery? Not used nearly as often in the West, Tamarind is a staple of the East; it use stretches from Africa and India, through the Middle East (including Iran) all the way to Southeast Asia. It's use extends from everything like marinades and stews to drinks and candy; and despite being famed for its incredibly sour flavour, there is a certain pleasing sweetness to it also.
This particular recipes comes with a confession on my part. It's creation came as a result of **not having** the required ingredients to make another dish using my little chunks of lamb neck fillet. Originally, I was going to make a Massamun curry but realised I didn't have any coconut milk in the my cupboards (a first) and so this dish was born. Ingredients vicariously chucked together in a pot, fingers crossed, hoping for the best... only to end in a triumphant result! Splendid, utterly splendid and here is the recipe;
Tamarind, Lamb and Aubergine Stew (Serves 4)
400g of lamb neck cut into large chunks (1.5 inches thick)
1 jar of Barts Tamarind paste
2 x Knorr beef stock pots
6 shallots or 1 medium onion, roughly sliced (not chopped and not too thin)
6 inches fresh ginger, grated
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 heaped tablespoons of caster sugar
2 heaped teapspoons of ground cumin
1 heaped teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 heaped teaspoon of turmeric powder
1 large green chilli **optional, but delicious** sliced thickly into about 6 pieces
2 medium sized aubergines, chopped thickly into 2 inch squared chunks (roughly)
Preheat a deep pan over a medium/hight heat (or medium if using gas) and add enough oil to cover the base of the ban. Saute your onions until they begin to brown and then add your lamb to the pan and stir, keeping the meat moving, so its gets nicely browned but not cooked through. Add the grated ginger and stir well for another minute or so. Follow by adding the tamarind paste, chopped tomatoes and sugar and stir well before adding the spices. Lastly add your aubergine chunks to the pan, stirring again and then pour enough water over the ingredient to just about cover them. Stir one last time before turning the temperature down to a low-medium heat (or low is using gas) and cook for 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes to prevent it sticking. Serve with basmati rice or lovely naan bread.