If like me, you’ve been delighted to learn that just about everything you’ve always suspected about meat, eggs and butter was correct (http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/mar/23/everything-you-know-about-unhealthy-foods-is-wrong) – (my hyperlinks are playing up) then you may also have tuned into rumours about the various health benefits of ghee. This article (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/food/food-reviews/Ghee-and-its-many-benefits/articleshow/10979319.cms) cites the stuff as healthier than butter, and claims that when used in moderation, it can actually lower cholesterol. While I’m aware that ghee and clarified butter are not technically the same thing (owing to minor differences in production) whatever your thoughts on health benefits, the fact remains that unlike butter, it sports a very high smoke point which makes it perfect for browning meat. And of course, it’s pretty much the midas of the fat world, rendering everything it comes into contact with into a state of unutterable deliciousness.
Those canny folk at Lurpak have cottoned onto this fact, and when they sent me a pot of their new clarified butter to try, I decided to put it to the test with these frankly sumptuous Kashmiri ribs. Also known as “kabargah”, this is proper push the boat out, special occasion food, traditionally served with a majestic pulao (we had ours with my tomato salad and steamed wholegrain rice).
The ribs are simmered until tender in spiced milk, drained, dipped in a chilli-flecked yoghurt and then sizzled to a crisp in ghee. You could use goat or mutton instead. My local Turkish “international supermarket” sells them for 50p each, but if you can’t get ribs, I’m sure chops would work (just bear in mind that you might need to stretch out the simmering time). Basically you want to ensure your meat has a bit of fat on it, to guarantee that perfect spicy crunch.
1/2 -1 tsp. chilli powder (preferably Kashmiri)
4 green cardamom pods
1-2 tsp pink or black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
1 star anise
4 cloves crushed garlic plus an equal amount of finely chopped ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp. cumin
500ml full fat milk
10-12 lamb ribs
250g natural yoghurt
1-2 tsp. chilli powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garam masala
a tablespoon or so of clarified butter
rinse the ribs in a couple of changes of water
over a medium heat, in a large dry saucepan (i.e. one that will comfortably fit all the ribs and the milk) toast the cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf, star anise and cumin seeds until fragrant.
Slosh in the milk and add the ribs, chilli powder, garlic, ginger, peppercorns and turmeric.
Turn the heat down really low and simmer for about an hour, or until the ribs are very tender. Check and stir every now and again to make sure the milk doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan. If it over evaporates, then splash in a bit more or some water
While simmering the ribs, mix the yoghurt, chilli powder, garam masala and salt. Set aside.
Drain the ribs and allow to dry (resist the urge to just drink it out of the pan and save the spiced milk for your next curry or spicy soup base, it freezes beautifully).
Heat the clarified butter over a high heat and dip each rib briefly in the spiced yoghurt before frying until crisp all over. You’re looking for a meltingly tender interior and crisp exterior. Devour.