Monjje in Kashmiri, Kadam in Urdu, Kohlrabi in english. This root vegetable, with greens on top, is a firm favourite, part of Kashmiri DNA really, much like our deep and abiding love for gogjje, or turnips. Which is almost as deep and abiding as our love for lamb. Monjje, and monjje haakh – on their own, with lamb (obviously), in achaar (Kashmiri achaar is the best achaar in the world and thats just a fact. Yep) – glorious.
I’ve recently been talking this dear friend of mine through various recipes. They love lamb (Kashmiri so, obviously), but aren’t too keen on vegetables (like I said, Kashmiri, so obviously). So I find myself suggesting lamb + veg curries a lot. Monjje ti maaz, or a Lamb Kohlrabi curry is a classic. Simple, wholesome, earthy flavours. Home.
1/2 kilo of lamb – what cut you say? Pick your favourite. This will work regardless.
2-3 medium shallots – peeled, washed, sliced.
4-5 whole cloves of garlic – peeled, washed. Leave 2 whole. Mince 2.
3-4 medium sized monjje – pick the smaller, greener ones at the grocers. Do. Wash, peel, and quarter them. If you are lucky enough to find some with haakh, then yay! Snip off each haakh leaf, wash then tear roughly in to two or three.
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2/3 green cardamoms
2/3 black cardamoms
1/2 inch piece of cassia
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1-2 teaspoons of fennel powder
1-2 teaspoons of Kashmiri chilli powder
So the first thing you want to do is to get the lamb going. In Kashmiri we call this *paakh dyun*. As easy as bishte bishte byaryo. Really. Grab yourself a thick bottomed pan, big enough to hold all your meat. Put the lamb, 2-3 cloves of garlic, all of your whole spices, 1 teaspoon of fennel powder and a little salt in to the pan. Cover with just enough water. Bring to boil, then simmer and cover. You could skim off the surface of the water after the first 10 or so minutes if you want. But in any case, leave this to simmer for the next hour, hour and a half, till the meat is tender and cooked through. Keep checking to see pan has enough water though. If you, unlike me, are of the pressure cooker school of cooking, then by all means pressure cook away.
So while your lamb is doing the *paakh* thing, let’s get started on the monjje.
In another pan, big enough to hold all your monjje, (if you dont have a big enough pan then that’s okay too, just do this step in batches, but at no point do you want to cook these in an overcrowded pan, trust me) – by now you know I love the thick bottomed, non-teflon stuff, yes? Right – so in another pan pour a good glug of oil and when that’s nice and hot add your monjje, in a single layer, stir them around a bit to get the oil on all sides, sprinkle a bit of salt, then turn the heat down and cover the pan. This will make the kohlrabi sweat. What you want is for it to cook in its own juices, till all the water in the pan evaporates. At this point increase the heat a bit and fry them till they’re slightly golden green (what, do it, you’ll see) in colour. Take them out of the pan and keep them aside. Then just quickly fry the haakh, if you have any, in the same oil – 3-4 mins on a medium flame.
Once all your monjje are done, take a look at your pan and see if it needs more oil, it probably won’t, but check. To this add the shallots. Fry till soft and fragrant, 3-4 minutes, then add the remaining garlic, minced, and fry for another minute or two. To this then add your ground spices, fry for a minute or two. Then return the monjje/ haakh to the pan and carefully stir everything together so the masalas cover all of the monjje – do this for another minute or two.
Then there’s two ways you can proceed, depending on the size of the pans you’ve used. If the one with the monjje is big enough to hold everything then great, add the pieces of meat from the *paakh* pan to the monjje paan first. Stir everything together. Then add enough stock from the *paakh* pan so that it sort of covers everything. Bring to boil. Check for salt. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Garnish with coriander, if that’s your thing. And you are done.
But if your monjje pan isn’t big enough, then simply add the monjje to the lamb. You just need to make sure you’re happy with the amount of stock in there (- no one wants rasse koelle, literally streams of gravy, ahem -) then bring everything to boil, cover and simmer for 10 mins. And you’re done.
What would you eat this with, you ask? Take a wild wild guess. Do.