Saturday, February 28, 2015

Lamb Suthriyan (Indian Pasta)

Suthriyan is a traditional muslim pasta dish made by the muslim community in Chennai. It is mostly made with lamb or shrimp and coconut milk. Whenever I make it here in Canada, it brings back to me vivid memories of my past of how we enjoyed eating Suthriyan at our family get togethers and picnics,  how we would all sit together around the pot of Suthriyan, heap up our plates and eat to our heart's content till we wiped off  the pot all clean. Oh, so delicious indeed were the lip smacking Suthriyan with the chunks of lamb melting in your mouth!

Suthriyan (indian pasta) are made with white flour and are available in the stores in Chennai. There is another kind of suthriyan made with chappati flour (finely ground wheat flour) which are made at home by rolling out flat breads, cutting them into diamond shapes and then drying them on a piece of clean cloth spread on the table or in the sun. These are a bit chewy and not as soft as the white suthriyan which melt in the mouth. 

Suthriyan should be first cooked in boiling water to which coconut milk is added before mixing in the gravy. This cooking technique not only enhances their flavour but also keeps them separate (does not make them stick  together in clusters) and helps them cook faster as well. If you add them directly to the gravy to cook them, they will not cook evenly and you will be left with some cooked and some half cooked ones. So it is sometimes better not to take short cuts.

The cut of lamb that you choose is also important. It is preferable to add a few pieces of lamb breast along with the lamb shoulder with the bones for this recipe. The excessive fat on the top should be trimmed off leaving the thick wedge of edible fat (which is hard and doesn't peel off) under which is the layer of soft meat on the bone and it should be cut into single short rib pieces. The soft and succulent shoulder pieces blend with the softness of the suthriyan pasta and melt in the mouth. The lamb breast is also soft and chewy and it adds more meaty flavor and taste. So delicious and yummy!

 Here's the recipe.

Lamb Shoulder  1.5 kg (Shoulder meat plus some pieces of lamb breast)
Suthriyan - 1 kg
Vegetable oil - 1 cup
Onions - 5 large (1lb) thinly sliced
Tomatoes - 4 large (400gm) quartered.
Mint leaves - 1/4 cup
Cilantro - 1/2 cup
Green chillies - 6 whole
Fresh Lemon - 1/2
Ginger garlic paste - 200 gm
Yoghurt - 1 cup (3.5%) or home made from whole milk. 
Coconut milk - 2 cans ("Real Thai Coconut milk" or extract milk from 1 fresh coconut).
2 litres of Water for boiling Suthriyan
Cloves - 10
Green cardamom - 10
Cinnamon sticks - 2
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Red chilly powder - 1/2 tsp (optional)
Salt to taste.
1 small sliced onion to sauté for garnish
Ghee (Clarified butter) - 2 tsp

1. Remove the skin, trim the fat, clean and wash the lamb pieces well and set aside.

2. In a pot heat the vegetable oil, add the whole spices - cloves, cardamom and cinnamon sticks to the oil followed after a few seconds by the sliced onions. Fry them on medium heat.

3. When the onions turn golden brown add the ginger garlic paste, turmeric and red chilly powders.
Mix the spices then add the lamb pieces and roast them in the masala till they turn opaque and harden a bit.

4. Now add the quartered tomatoes, whole green chillies, salt followed by thick whisked yoghurt, mint leaves and chopped cilantro. Mix well and pressure cook for 15 mins or cook on low medium heat for 45mins - 1 hr till the lamb is soft and tender. Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon after the lamb is cooked and let it simmer.

5. Add 1/2 a can of coconut milk (reserve the other half for later) and leave to simmer on low heat till the sauce thickens a bit and the oil comes to the top (another 10 minutes).

6. Meanwhile bring to boil 2 litres of water in a big pot. Add the Suthriyan slowly little by little while you keep stirring gently to keep them apart. Add 1 tbs of salt and the 2nd can of coconut milk. Cook till just al dente. Switch off the stove.

7.  Now add the cooked lamb with the sauce to the cooked Suthriyan. Simmer on low while stirring  gently from the bottom of the pot to mix well and to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot.  Add more chopped cilantro and the reserved 1/2 can of coconut milk, mix well and let it simmer for sometime. Adjust the consistency - simmer longer if too thin and if too thick add a little water. It thickens very fast so avoid cooking on high heat after adding the Suthriyan to the sauce.

8. The final seasoning is done with a tadka or tempering. Sizzle the sliced onion in hot ghee (clarified butter) till golden brown and pour it over the Suthriyan in the serving dish. Garnish with mint and cilantro. Serve hot with some mint chutney on the side. Enjoy!