Monday, 17 October 2011

Namaaste Kitchen, Camden

Lamb Chops with Papaya and Ginger Spiced Marinade

Every now and then I really need a bit of spice in my life and at these times I try and get myself down to an Indian restaurant sharpish! I pretty much have the same things every time, a nice chicken Rogan Josh, and it tends to hit the spot quite nicely. But, since visiting India in 2009, I realised quite quickly that there is a lot more to Indian food than just curries and in fact that most restaurants in India don’t serve the staples that sit on the menus in Indian takeaways across the UK. I obviously generalise hugely, and this was made very apparent to me when I went to Namaaste Kitchen a couple of weeks ago with a friend and was delighted to see a broad menu that offered much more interesting Indian food than just curries. (Quick side note: Although it does do takeaways, the restaurant is buzzy and fun and the staff are so friendly and helpful that I would recommend sitting down if possible!)
Luckily, although we took ages to decide what to get, we were given some popadoms and sauces to eat whilst we mulled over the menu. I always appreciate a freebie so thought it was worth mentioning! My friend, still finding it too hard to decide what he wanted to eat, asked the waiter to recommend some dishes and he was certainly not disappointed when his food came because the jumbo Tandoori prawns he had for a starter were delicious. He went on to have a Lamb Biryani but that was sort of blurred out for me because I was simultaneously eating some of the best lamb chops I have ever had in my life. It said that they were tender on the menu, but the chops were SO tender that I had a hard time believing they were chops! They were also marinated beautifully in “fresh ginger paste, raw papaya & selected herbs and spices”, which complimented the flavour of the lamb perfectly. 
We went on to have some perfectly nice puddings but, as I think you can guess, the thing that really stood out for me was the lamb chops, simply because I have made lamb chops hundreds of times and never, ever have they tasted quite as good as those I had at Namaaste Kitchen. My dad, the world’s foremost lamb chop fanatic, would have been mightily impressed with these chops and although I have tried to recreate them for him, he is under strict instruction to get himself to Namaaste Kitchen and try them first hand. Honestly, my recipe (below) does not do them justice, but hopefully it will provide you with some inspiration on how to tart up this old favourite…

2 large lamb chops
½ papaya, cubed
2cm ginger, grated
1 tsp garam masala
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp hot chilli powder
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Ground nut oil for frying

1. Cube the papaya half and pour into a medium oven proof dish.
2. Grate the ginger into the bowl and mash with a fork.
3. Add the cumin, chilli powder, garam masala, salt and pepper and mix.
4. Add the chops, cover and chill for an hour.
5. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Heat up a little oil in a large frying pan until very hot and cook the lamps chops for about 3 minutes on each side, until brown.
6. Return the chops to the dish and make sure that they are well covered with the papaya and ginger paste.
7. Place the dish in the oven for 30 minutes, turning after 15 minutes and ensuring they are well covered by the marinade.
8. Remove from the oven and serve with a side dish of your choice. I would recommend steamed English greens and mange tout for a light meal.

The chops should be really tender and packed with flavour and the remaining marinade can be used as a delicious sauce. I also used the other half of the papaya to make a spicy chutney to go on the side, by adding a little water, 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, a little finely chopped ginger, salt pepper and chilli powder to taste and cooking for around 20  minutes on  low heat.

Total cost of ingredients: £7.75 (I already had the spices and oil)
This should serve 1-2 people depending on how hungry you are.

Finally I do apologise that this isn’t the most attractive dish...sometimes you just have to accept that a chop will never sit neatly on a plate! Regard the picture above (made at the reestaurant) and I think you'll understand why, aesthetically, mine doesn't quite live up to expectations.