When you can’t decide between meltingly tender cubes of lamb and a comforting bowl of soft chickpeas, there’s only one thing to do – create a one-pot meal with both. This Bhuna lamb with chickpeas uses the very best of boneless meat for a moreish and moist feast that’s just perfect scooped into warm rotis.
The inspiration for this came from Mangsher Ghugni, a subtly spiced, yellow pea curry with meat; it’s a street food favourite in the state of Bengal where I grew up that was dished up as lavish weekend breakfast curry. This recipe uses a typical Bengali technique, which is to put sugar in hot oil to caramelise the onions and add a touch of sweetness to the end dish. As for the long list of ingredients – don't be put off by them. They’re all readily available!
Chop the lamb into 5cm chunks, trimming any excess layers of fat. Toast the whole cumin and coriander in a small saucepan for 10 seconds and then leave to sit.
Now, slice the onions finely. In a large saucepan, bring the oil to heat on high. When it is hot, drop in the cinnamon, cardamoms, sugar and bay leaves. As they sizzle up, toss in the sliced onions and sauté for 10 minutes until they take on a pale golden colour. Adding a sprinkle of salt to the onions will speed this up. Peel and finely grate the garlic and ginger in the meantime.
Keep stirring the onions from time to time. While they turn golden, grind the toasted coriander and cumin in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder. When the onions are ready, add the garlic, ginger, all the spice powders, and keep stirring for another two minutes. If the mixture starts sticking to the bottom of the pan, add a tablespoon of hot water and gently scrape off.
Next, chop roughly and mix in the tomatoes, along with the chunks of lamb. Brown the meat evenly for five minutes and then lower the heat to medium, cover and cook, stirring regularly for 45 minutes. You should not need to add water as the lamb will just cook in its own juices, hence “bhuna”, but you could add two cup of water if you prefer a curry.
Cook uncovered for another 15 minutes. Then rinse, drain and mix in the chick peas with another half a cup of warm water. Cover and cook for another five-10 minutes. Finally stir in the garam masala and salt to taste, and your Bhuna Lamb with Chickpeas enjoy tucked into warm rotis or pitta bread with sliced red onions and a squirt of lemon juice.