I enjoy experimenting with ideas. Especially when it comes to food and even more so if it involves a healthy amount of punning, such as with Mussel Re:Laksa and Ham Hockusai. One idea that Gilly and I developed was around the idea of fusion food, but rather than being based on the cuisines of the Pacific Rim, it combines and merges the foods of the British Empire.
We thought it would be fun to take classic English dishes and give them an exotic twist. And on other occasions take exciting dishes from the old British Empire and give them a British spin. Our best example so far is Sherpa’s Pie which, essentially, is a lamb curry with turmeric mashed potato on top - a Himalayan twist on the classic Shepherd's Pie. We loved it as an idea because it seemed to capture our silly concept perfectly. And I love it even more now that I’ve made it!
All you need to do is rid your mind of preconceptions and any niggling doubts about the lack of authenticity and embrace an interesting idea. Here’s how to make it.
Toast a sprinkling of fennel seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and cinnamon. Then grind to a fragrant dust and add garam masala. Then add 3 finely chopped chillies, a large knob of grated ginger and some rock salt. Add some oil to form a spicy paste and then rub most of this all over your shoulder of lamb.
Add 10 quartered and deseeded tomatoes to the roasting pan along with 4 roughly chopped onions. Cover the tomatoes and onions in the rest of your paste and drizzle with oil. Roast in a hot oven for 20 minutes until the top has browned. When you open the oven door the smell should have you gasping for air and yearning for more at the same time. Turn the shoulder over so the spices on the underside turn brown as well. Roast at a high heat for a further 10-15 minutes and then transfer to a cooler oven (of if you’re not using an Aga turn the oven down). Let this burble away for 4 hours. When the meat starts to yield pour a jar of passata around the outside. Cook for another hour and then when you can see that the meat is yielding remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Now, boil a panful of potatoes in salted water and sprinkle around a tablespoon of turmeric into the water. It should turn the potatoes an alarming shade of yellow. Once cooked drain and mash with butter, milk and plenty of seasoning.
Pull the, now cooled, lamb shoulder apart and shred the meat. It should tease apart with a fork. Remove the bones and any superfluous fat. Transfer the meat and sauce to a casserole dish and test the seasoning. Then add a layer of spinach followed by the yellow mashed potato. Place this in the oven to heat through and mingle.
Serve with a bottle of Cobra beer.
I grinned throughout the cooking process and even more so when it came to eating it. I’m sure many people would be horrified by the idea of putting mashed potato on a curry. But I can assure you it worked brilliantly. Some have suggested using goat or yak for a bit of added authenticity. I will next time!