Caramelized onions, infused with cardamom, fennel, and cumin, form the basis for this classic Indian curry, made here with lamb and small, flat cipolline onions, and topped with crispy fried onions. This recipe first appeared in our November 2011 issue along with Dana Bowen’s story Roots of Flavor.
- 1 tbsp. paprika
- 1 tbsp. garam masala
- 4 tsp. ground turmeric
- 2 tsp. dried mint
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 12 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 4″ pieces ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
- 2 lb. lamb shoulder, cut into 1 1/2″ cubes
- 1⁄4 cup Greek yogurt
- 12 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp. coriander seeds
- 2 tsp. cumin seeds
- 1 tsp. fennel seeds
- 6 green cardamom pods, crushed
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced lengthwise
- 1 16-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes with juice, crushed by hand
- 12 cipolline or large pearl onions, peeled
- Fried onions, to garnish
- Cooked white rice, for serving
- Make the spice paste: Combine paprika, garam masala, 2 tsp. turmeric, mint, salt, garlic, ginger, jalapeño, and 1⁄4 cup water in a small food processor and puree until smooth. Transfer half the spice paste to a bowl and add lamb and yogurt; toss until evenly coated. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for 4 hours.
- Heat 8 tbsp. butter in an 8-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add coriander, cumin, fennel, cardamom, and cinnamon; cook, stirring, until cinnamon stick unfurls and spices are fragrant and lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Add yellow onions, and cook, stirring often, until deeply caramelized, about 25 minutes (add up to 4 tbsp. water, if necessary, to keep onions from sticking to bottom of pot). Add remaining spice paste, and continue cooking until no longer raw, about 2 minutes. Add lamb along with any marinade, and cook, stirring, until marinade is no longer raw, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and 3 cups water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until lamb is tender, about 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, bring a 2-qt. saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add cipollines, and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes; drain. Heat remaining turmeric and butter in a 10″ skillet over medium-high heat; add cipollines, and cook, stirring, until caramelized all over, about 10 minutes.
- Remove curry from heat and stir in cipollines. Sprinkle with fried onions; serve with rice.