So you know I’m from Kashmir. Which means I know a lot of, you know, Kashmiris. Ahem. All sorts, really. Village folk. From the north. The south. City people. Downtown-ians. Civil liners. Every single shade of the political spectrum. Ahem. They don’t always agree on things. They will sometimes slag each other off. In ways that are sometimes subtle, sometimes not. You know.
But what if I tell you there is one thing that is true of every single Kashmiri I know. Like, you know, all of them. What is it, you ask? Would you like to take a guess? No, we are not talking about politics. Ahem. (Yes, you’re probably right. Ahem.) They all *love* turnips. It’s true. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. Even my 7 year old who’s more London-ian than Kashmiri. It’s in our DNA, obviously. What other explanation can there be. Ahem.
Okay, so the point of all that was this : Turnips – On their own. Fresh. Dried. Amazing.
But Turnips with lamb – next level. Thing of beauty. And joy. Obviously.
500 grams of lamb – this works with pretty much any cut. I used boneless chunks of leg because that’s what I had. A bit of bone will add lots to the flavour though.
7-8 medium turnips – pick the smaller ones out at the grocer’s, they’re sweeter and cook quicker.
2-3 small shallots, sliced
3-4 fat cloves of garlic (2 minced, 2 whole)
2 black cardamom pods
5 green cardamom pods
1 inch piece of cinnamon/ cassia
1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1-2 teaspoons of fennel powder
1-2 teaspoons of turmeric powder
1 teaspoon of Kashmiri chili powder
Okay, so first things first – wash your meat and put it in a big enough thick bottomed pan. Add all your whole spices, 2 whole cloves of garlic, fennel powder, and salt. Pour enough water to cover everything, in to the pan. Bring to boil on a high heat, cover, and simmer. And do what we do with pretty much every single lamb recipe : forget about it for the next 1.5 to 2 hours, till the meat is super soft and tender.
Now while your lamb is going about its ah, tender business, here’s what you need to sort out : your turnips! Wash, peel and chop them in to chunks. Take another pan, heat it up and then add a good glug or two of oil. Once the oil is hot and shimmering add your turnips. Fry for a couple of minutes on high heat. Sprinkle of salt all over, cover, and bring the heat down to medium/low. What this will do is make the turnips sweat, and cook in their own juices. Once all the water has evaporated, turn the heat up and fry them for a couple of minutes. By this point your turnips should be changing colour. Beauties! Push them to one side of the pan – add shallots, fry them for a bit and then mix everything up. Next, do the same with your minced garlic. Fry everything together for a couple of minutes, and then add your turmeric and chili powders. Good old stir again. (You could take the turnips out of course, and then add the shallots/ garlic/ turmeric/ chili powder, and then return the turnips to the pan, but hey ho. Hah.)
So by this point if your lamb is all done all you need to do is add it to the turnips, bring everything back to boil, check for salt, cover, and cook on a medium/ low flame for another 10 minutes. If your lamb is still cooking, take the turnips off the heat and wait till your lamb is done before you do the whole mixing bit.
And that’s it. Every Kashmiri’s comfort/ soul/ love food. Promise.
(What will you serve this with? Let’s see. Hmmm. Ummm. I wonder. Hah.)