Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Dum ki Raan

Every winter we hold a few mini-bonfire-and-barbecue nights for friends and family on our terrace. I love barbecue nights, I love planning for one, and every time we host one, I take charge of the food. That is, I decide the menu, I marinate the meats- chicken legs, goat chops and leg of lamb -  the previous night, make sure the salads are done and the bread and any other sides are taken care of etc. On the night of the barbecue however, I simply dress up, put on some lipstick and let my hair down. I do not go anywhere near the grills. I let my cousins and their friends do the grilling and roasting! I lap up compliments about how good the meats taste with a sugary giggle and secretly give myself a pat on the back for an awesome barbecue night. Come on, I am the one responsible for the great food people just chomped on. Only I wasn't and though I hate to admit it now, it was the people grilling the meat on that spit fire that should have been credited really - for their skill and more so for their patience. 

I would have never known had I not prepared this Dum ki Rann - slow roasted leg of lamb/ goat in a spicy and sweet gravy enriched with dates and cashew nuts. 

So, last Saturday, I resolved to be more active in the kitchen, I have been extremely lazy the last couple of weeks, and declared to the family that I will cook them a feast for Sunday lunch. I have wanted to roast a whole raan on a spit fire for the longest time and that is exactly what I planned to do as my Sunday project. So I spent Saturday evening at home tending to the raan, (not too fatty but some fat is a must) marinated it and satisfied, retired for the day.

Sunday morning was bright and sunny, but pretty windy. My mother warned that a spitfire might not be a good idea, considering it was my first time. She said, do it in the oven, put a burning coal inside the oven for the smoky effect. But I was determined. I had brought 3 kilos of coal, but sent for another 2 just to be sure. The bricks were ready. I was raring to go.

How I had pictured the morning: The smell of charred spiced meat in the air, the comfort of the winter sun on my back while I sipped on wine and basted the meat, between turning the pages of my story book, Beatles in the background perhaps, or some good country music.

How it all really turned out: First, I struggled to build the spit, then I struggled to light the fire. Then I sat their cursing myself for building too large a fire, then the fire went wild, thanks to the wind gods, it was now more like a bonfire really and I waited with mounting frustration so the fire would give up on the mad frenzy, I wanted hot coals not licking flames. My book caught fire in the meantime, and I forgot all about the wine. The only music there was was the rustle of leaves as the wind threatened to blow everything away. And there I was stomping around the terrace like a mad mad woman, cursing my fate.

And then when I could no longer be patient I put the meat on the heat anyway, and then panicked when it began charring right away. Oh God! the flames. An hour later I gave up. My raan looked great on the outside with char marks et al, and it smelt heavenly too, but I knew the meat was far from cooked. I was too tired to struggle anymore so I simply transferred the meat onto a baking dish and into the oven it went. My mother threw a condescending smirk my way, and that upset me all the more. But I was determined to make a mind blowing lunch and finally I did.


Raan - 1.5 kilo (approx)
Ghee to brush while roasting the meat

For marination 
Minced ginger - 2 tbsp
Minced garlic - 1.5 tbsp
Minced papaya - 3-4 tbsp
Yoghurt : 200 g
Roasted cumin powder - 3 tbsp
Red chili powder - 2 tbsp
Salt - 2.5 tbsp
Mustard oil - 1/2 cup

For the gravy 
Finely sliced onions - 2 large
Minced onion - 2 cups
Ginger paste - 2.5 tbsp
Garlic paste - 2 tbsp
Chopped tomatoes - 3 large
Chopped mint leaves - 2-3 tbsp
Chopped coriander leaves - 1/4 cup packed
Finely green chilies - 2 tbsp
Dates (pitted and minced) - 2.5 tbsp
Cashew nut paste - 1//4 cup
Cumin powder - 1 tbsp
Coriander powder- 1 tbsp
Red chili powder - 2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Garam Masala powder* - 1 tbsp
Raisins - 50g
Salt to taste
Mustard oil - 1/4 cup

For Spiced Caramel water to deglaze
Sugar - 50
Cardamom - 5-6
Cinnamon - 2 inch stick
Bay leaves - 2-3
Cloves - 3-4
Mace strands - 2-3
Ghee - 100 g


Rub in the salt and mustard oil, massaging it on the raan, apply a little pressure while you work the salt and oil into the meat. Keep aside for an hour.

Now rub in each dry ingredients in the marination list one by one.  Whisk the curd, minced papaya, garlic and ginger, into a creamy paste, add to the and coat it well, . Cover an refrigerate overnight/ or at room temperature for about 6 hours.

Roast it on a charcoal grill, basting continuously and alternatively with reserved marinade and melted ghee. Slow coking is the key and this will take a lot of time and patience.

Alternatively you can sear the meat on charcoal, thus getting the smoky flavours (brush ghee with ghee and baste with the marinade) and then transfer the meat and any remaining marinade into a finish it in the oven, at 160 degree for 3- 3.5 hours or until meat is cooked through. Keep basting with the juices the meat releases.

While the meat is being cooked, prepare the gravy.

First prepare the caramel water. Heat the ghee in a pan. Add sugar and wait till it caramelizes. Once it starts turning golden and bubbles, pour in 350 ml water. And stir until the caramel dissolves and bring to a boil. Add the whole spices and let it bubble for a couple of minutes. Then turn down the heat and let it simmer until reduced by a quarter. Remove, strain and reserve the caramel water.

Now in a heavy bottomed pan, heat mustard oil. Add the sliced onions and fry until they are brown (be careful not to burn them though). Add the minced onion, garlic and ginger and fry until oil separates.

Now add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt and continue frying one again. Once tomatoes turn mushy, add the turmeric, red chili, cumin, coriander and garam masala powders and continue frying until oil separates. Keep stirring and adjust heat level so that the masala doesn't stick to the pan too much.

Now add chopped green chilies, chopped mint and coriander, minced dates and cashew nut paste and salt, mix well. Fry on high heat for a minute, reduce heat and cook until oil separates, stir continually.

Now turn up heat and deglaze the pan with the caramel water, scraping out bits stuck to the pan. Let the gravy bubble for a a couple of minutes, reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes or until oil floats up. Remove from heat and keep.

Once the meat is cooked through transfer to serving dish. Reserve the delicious liquids in the baking tray.

Return the gravy to heat. Add the meaty juices from the baking tray and toss in the raisins, bring to a boil. Turn down heat, simmer for a couple of minutes and then pour the gravy on top of the roasted raan. Garnish with mint leaves and serve piping hot, with naans or rotis.

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