Almost cooking like a chef

Mallika Basu - Almost cooking like a chef

Posted 23rd February 2007

img_3125.jpgWedged between a smelly armpit and a raving lunatic on the underground this morning, my eyes nearly popped out when I read news of the Best of Brit Blog 2007 awards.

An award? For Blogs? In Britain? How fantastic.

Not like I bet money on winning anything. I grew up winning consolation prizes for failing to win and progress prizes for not failing. Even a beauty contest entry ended in a third prize – something about my lackadaisical response to the malignant malaria outbreak at the time.

(I mean, God, I was 17. Not like I wasn’t worried enough about the boy who didn’t fancy me and the boy who did…)

It would be nice to win something. Once. If you think me worthy (or feel sorry for me) please nominate me. Nominations are welcome from the UK and beyond. Oh, and I loosely fit in the arts and entertainment categorythere isn’t one for food).

Whether from the UK and beyond, you may have heard of Atul Kochhar? The only Indian chef with a Michelin star honour? As it’s cooking from cookbooks week, I decided to try one of his lamb recipes from Delicious magazine here in the UK.

As I flicked through the article, I read about Atul being faithful to the origins of each recipe. Great. Lamb curry with chickpeas. Superb. Takes three hours to make, plus overnight soaking.


The last time I spent three hours making anything, it spent two and three quarters of an hour in the oven. Baking.

Anyway, undeterred by this small problem i rallied on soon noticing that he’d used dried chickpeas and cooked them before chucking them into the lamb.

See this is where we have to be smart. Life’s too short and busy and a tin of chick peas is a far superior choice. Here is the recipe, which I have tried to be faithful to (bar raw chick peas) and it was delicious:

Feeds 4:

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 cm fresh ginger, finely grated
1 tin of chickpeas
4 bay leaves
4 green cardamom pods
7 cloves
1 medium onion, sliced
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp garam masala
2 large tomatoes, chopped
6 lamb chops
Fresh coriander, to garnish (optional)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a deep pot and when hot, add the bay leaves, cardamoms and cloves. When they sizzle, add the onion and cook until translucent and soft. Stir in the  ginger and garlic and fry for two minutes.

Add the spices, the tomatoes and lamb. Cover the lamb with hot water, bring to the boil and then simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the chickpeas and simmer until the lamb is cooked (approximately another 30 minutes).To finish, stir in the garam masala and salt and garnish with coriander before serving.

9 responses to “Almost cooking like a chef”

  1. sam says:

    Hi Mallika!
    I know you like to get your cooking over and done with quickly and so do i most of the time, but since I have little else other than cooking and blogging to occupy my free time I sometimes do it slowly. A few months I cooked up an entire Atul Kochar dinner party. You can read the the results here . I’d like to try more of his stuff, it’s interesting.
    OK – now I’ll go and check out the awards as instructed.
    good luck!


  2. sam says:

    that sucks – no food category!

  3. mallika says:

    Hi Sam

    The dinner party sounds wonderful. I will read all about it – i do like Kochhar’s love for the real thing.

    I believe food blogs fit within the entertainment category (weird, yes, i know). Any help with this would be hugely appreciated.

    Thanks v much!

  4. sandeepa says:

    Hi Mallika
    Enjoyed reading your post. Shall check out and nominate
    And yes a can of chickpeas is indeed a better choice

  5. nandita says:

    Mallika-went over promptly to vote and then find these
    1. Technology
    2. Sport
    3. Fashion
    4. Politics
    5. Arts and Entertainment
    6. Travel
    7. Youth*
    8. Weird and Wonderful**

    Food comes closest to 5 but still not sure it fits in. May be you should write to them and find out!

  6. Spandana says:

    Hi Mallika….

    Nice Blog and Nice recipes…
    I tried out the Achari Aloo recipe and it came out so well that, everyone were licking their fingers 🙂
    Thanks for sharing such nice recipes!!

  7. Radhika says:

    Loved this recipe. I cooked the meat in my pressure cooker (25-30 mins after the whistle) and then added the canned chickpeas at the end. It was delicious!

  8. ping says:

    Hi Mallika,

    Love your site – your recipes are fantastic but your sense of humour and wonderful style of writing are just as enjoyable to digest!

    We’re halfway through cooking your recipe RIGHT NOW. Saw it and had to do it! However, I made a bit of a mistake and wanted to check how much it matters (more for the next time, rather than this one!).

    Not being sensible enough to read through the whole recipe, when we came to the bit where we had to add the spices, I threw in the garam masala with the rest. It was only later I saw that I should have added it separately, at the end of the cooking.

    Does it go bitter or ruin the taste in some way to add at that early stage? Is there some way to rectify a mistake like that? Or are hungry ignorami like us likely to enjoy it just as much?

  9. Mallika says:

    Oh Nooooooo, this is something I frequently warn about. Asafoetida should go in in the beginning and garam masala and amchoor (mango powder) at the end to prevent it from going bitter.

    Unfortunately, you can’t rectify it. But you have learnt a valuable lesson and must keep going. Please promise me this won’t put you off Indian cooking for the rest of your life???

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *