Madhur Jaffrey (yes, her again) traces the ancestry of this dish to the Persian shahi korma, lamb cubes smothered in a rich almond and cream sauce. We enjoy Jaffrey’s version with beef, although you can use lamb if you prefer – but you have a lamb dhansak recipe already in the archive. This can be cooked on the stove or in the oven – I prefer the latter because it fills the house with a most delicious smell and leaves the hob free for assembling vegetable sides such as sweet & sour okra or Lake Palace aubergines. Raitha might accompany it too, and even a tomato salsa like the one we eat with lamb dhansak.
8 cloves garlic, peeled
2.5 cm cube fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
50g flaked almonds
6 tbsp + 250ml water
7 tbsp vegetable or groundnut oil
900g stewing beef, cut into 2.5 cm chunks
10 cardamom pods
2.5 cm cinnamon stick
200g onions, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1¼ tsp salt
300ml single cream
¼ tsp garam masala
Preheat the oven to 160 fan
Put the garlic, ginger, almonds and 6 tbsp water into the container of a small electric blender. Blend until you have a paste.
Put the oil in a wide, heavy pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in just enough meat pieces so they lie, uncrowded, in a single layer. Brown the meat on all sides, then remove with a slotted spoon and put in a bowl. Repeat with remaining batches of meat, adding more oil if necessary.
Put the cardamom, cloves and cinnamon in the hot oil. Within seconds the cloves will expand. Now add the onions. Stir and fry until they turn a brownish colour. Turn the heat down a bit, then put in the paste from the blender, along with the coriander, cumin and cayenne. Stir and fry this mixture for 3-4 minutes or until this too has browned a bit. (It will smell fabulous!) Now return the meat to the pan as well as any liquid that has accumulated in the meat bowl, and add the salt, the cream and 250ml water. Bring to a boil, cover and put in the oven for 2 hours or until the meat is tender. (Alternatively, simmer over a low heat on the stove.) Check and stir every 30 minutes. Once it’s ready, skim off any fat that has floated to the top and try to fish out the whole spices, which aren’t meant to be eaten, obvs. Sprinkle in the garam masala and mix.