Goat curry made its way into my life sometime in 2005, together with a completely new lifestyle following the breakdown of my 27-year marriage. I was living on my own for the first time ever and an entirely different (and delicious) world had opened up to me.
That kind of change is somewhat curious. At first, it's daunting, as you've become so accustomed to living (or not) your life in a certain way, and old habits really do die hard. First and foremost, you have to get used to your own company, and that can be a mixture of feeling ever so lonely, yet knowing you're embarking on an awesome adventure. And then after a while you start to find your way, settling in to fresh routines, making new friends and trying new things. It's like dipping your toes into an icy-cold ocean, then gradually immersing your body in the cold water a little at a time, and finally plunging confidently into the briny deep — relishing the invigorating refreshment that it offers.
Investigating my new neighbourhood back then, I discovered Bharat International, an emporium specialising in exotic Indian groceries and spices. Once I had roamed the various aisles of the store exploring the many good things on the shelves, I found myself spellbound by the glass displays filled with freshly made Indian sweets, such as burfi, jalebi, gulab jamun, halwa and mango lassi. So many things I had never tasted! It took me a few visits to realise that there was also an in-house restaurant and takeaway. I think it may have been my friends and neighbours, Katrina and Martin, who first introduced me to the (Halal) goat curry with steamed rice and naan. It was so good, that a visit to that venue for goat curry become a fortnightly ritual — sometimes with my friends, sometimes on my own, and, in time, with my Peter when we were dating. Even Libby, my Border Collie, looked forward to the remnants of that goat curry.
Time passes, things change once again and now it's been years since we had that goat curry. If I'm to be truthful, I have missed it. Just before Easter, Peter and I discovered a Halal butcher and grocery store at the back of our local shopping centre. Goat is among the beautifully fresh meat sold there, so I bought a kilo of meat on the bone specifically so that I could (finally) make some goat curry.
There are so many recipes for goat curry, both in my cookbooks and online. It took me a while to find a recipe that sounded as though it may have similar flavours to that favourite of ours, but finally I found this one by renowned chef, Matt Moran from the award winning hatted restaurant, Aria. Here is my adaptation. Towards the end of the cooking time, I added some baby stem ginger and a few small vine ripened tomatoes, as I felt the curry needed something more. It's not quite the same as the goat curry we were accustomed to, but it is full of flavour. Use a combination of meat on the bone and meaty chunks and the freshest spices. And please don't let the (long) list of ingredients discourage you from road testing this dish for yourself. It really is very good!
SLOW-COOKED GOAT CURRY WITH BASMATI RICE A LA LIZZY
1.5 kg goat meat pieces
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fennel seed
1 large brown onion, cut into quarters
4 large cloves garlic
50g fresh ginger, peeled, sliced
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 tablespoons ghee
1 teaspoon chilli powder
2 cinnamon sticks, snapped into a couple of pieces
10 small curry leaves
1 tiny birds eye chilli, sliced
250mls coconut milk or cream
1 teaspoon raw sugar
juice of a lemon
2 heaped tablespoons Buderim baby stem ginger in syrup*
6 small vine ripened tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon coriander leaves
Place the meat into a large stainless steel bowl together with the turmeric, salt and pepper. Set aside. Dry roast the fennel seeds in a small pan (for 1-2 minutes). Using a mortar and pestle, grind the fennel seeds to powder. Combine the onion, garlic and ginger in a food processor and blitz to a coarse paste.
Heat the oil and ghee in a wok or fry pan. Add the onion, garlic and ginger paste and cook for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Add the ground fennel, chilli powder, cinnamon sticks and curry leaves. Lower the heat and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the goat meat and cook for 8-10 minutes, then stir in the water, coconut milk or cream and the sliced chilli.
Bring the curry to simmering point, then lower the heat and cook for an hour, stirring during this time to ensure that the sauce doesn't catch on the bottom of the pan. (Add just a little extra water if needed). Now add the chopped baby stem ginger and syrup, lemon juice and the tomatoes. Cook gently for a further 30 minutes. Meanwhile, steam some Basmati rice. Matt points out that by the end of the cooking time, 'the goat should be tender and the sauce thickened'. Sprinkle with fresh coriander leaves and serve with the steamed rice. This quantity serves 6.
* Try some crystallised ginger instead if baby stem ginger is not readily available to you.
Tell me, dear readers, has there been a time in your life when you experienced significant change? Was it daunting? Or were you ready for it? Please share your experience.
And thank you ever so much for taking the time to comment. It means a lot to me when I hear from you. Lizzy xox
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.