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A Pirate’s Delight: Royal Red Lamb Curry, Indian Lentil Puree

Ahoy, Maties.

Rogan Josh, Red Lamb Stew, is a dish made in many variations in ingredients. It’s red because of hot red peppers or ground paprika. This is the most popular of my easy lamb curry recipes, which is red from both peppers and slow simmered tomatoes.

This Red Lentil Puree is the best dal recipe because it matches the Lamb Curry and basmati rice perfectly… and it’s easy to prepare, healthy for you, and so full of flavor.

India

Ah, exotic India. If you recall, the Crusaders brought back spices and silks, and new food ideas to Europe in the 11th, 12th, and 13th Centuries. Some were sourced in India. And Portugal laid claim to The State of India (part of the west coast) from 1505, so food from India could well have been known to Pirate Captains of England and France, as well as the Spanish Captains, during the Golden Age of Pirates, 1650-1725.

I had the honor of visiting Chennai (the old Madras) and the surrounding SE India in July-August in 2000 and again in January 2001. I was housed in a room at the University apartments, where I was a visiting professor teaching a new course in the Professional Deveopment Program – Internet Marketing.

My students took me around Chennai for food and shopping. Coffee shops and conversation. Fish Tikka, curries, aloo, gobi, sem, paratha, curd (yogurt), and the aromas of fresh ginger and garlic ground into paste with oil, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, hot chili peppers, cooked up in hot oil with lentils, lamb, chicken, shrimp, basmati rice… Oh, the memories are still so vivid.

When they discovered that I loved Indian food and was a cook, my students presented me with two cookbooks. They were filled with Indian food recipes of many traditions from all around the country. And from these I learned a whole new cuisine. Fabulous, fascinating food. Delicious, Aromatic, Healthy, Complex, Dazzling, Exotic.

It’s an adventure to cook… and to eat!

Healthy Indian Recipes

Indian food is so satisfying when it’s home-cooked. When you combine fresh spices, meats, seasonings, herbs, vegetables, chili peppers, yogurt, lentils, and relishes, you get a centuries-old tradition of titillating the palate.

Indian food is incredibly healthy because it preserves the chemical balance of our bodies and brains. It is wholesome with endless flavors. Because you control the source of the ingredients and spices and the cooking techniques, it’s easy to enjoy healthy Indian recipes like these.

Indian Lentil Puree

Dal is a preparation of lentils that is a staple of Indian cuisine. It’s likely to be served at Indian tables as a protein where meat is either too expensive or prohibited by religion. When it is pureed, it can be thin and used as a soup or thick and used as a side dish. Both are eaten with rice. This is the best dal recipe because it’s easy and so full of flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1 C Lentils (yellow, green, or red)

    Best Red Dal Recipe: red lentils and groud spices make this easy to prepare and full of flavor.

  • 3 C Water, in all
  • 1 small Onion, diced
  • 1 T Garlic, minced
  • 1 T peeled fresh Ginger, minced
  • ½ tsp ground Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Pink Himalayan Salt
  • 2 fresh Serrano chilies, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 C Diced Tomatoes
  • 2 T chopped fresh Cilantro

Procedure

  1. Place Lentils in a saucepan, cover with 2 C water, add onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, and simmer
    covered until the lentils are tender, 20-25 minutes.
  2. Puree everything in a food processor and return it to the saucepan.
  3. Stir in 1 C Water and Salt and simmer, partially covered, about 20 minutes. You want the dal to be thick and creamy.
  4. Stir in the Serranos, tomatoes, and cilantro. The tomato taste stays fresh, the peppers stay crunchy and you feel the heat when you bite them, and the cilantro is sharp and distinct. Excellent complexity of tastes and textures for such a simple, easy dish.

Lamb Curry with Tomatoes (Rogan Josh)

This royal rogan josh is surprisingly delicious with a richly reduced tomato sauce.  And because it’s so popular and an easy lamb curry recipe to prepare, all of my guests have asked for the recipe. And afterwards, I hear they served it to their guests and it’s been a satisfying hit.

Seasoning Mix

  • 2 tsp ground cumin

    Easy Lamb Curry. With hot red chilies and tomatoes.

  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground curry powder (Madras Hot)
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground red pepper (Cayenne is fine)
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp Pink Himalayan Salt

Ingredients

  • 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced rings
  • 1 T minced fresh garlic
  • 1 T grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1½ lbs boneless lamb stew meat, trimmed and cut into ½” to ¾” cubes
  • 2 T chopped fresh cilantro

Procedure

  1. Mix the seasonings in a small glass bowl.
  2. Drain tomatoes, and save the juice.
  3. Heat the oil in a heavy 4-qt pot or Dutch oven over high heat, 4-5 min, until oil just starts to smoke.
  4. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened and evenly golden brown, 5-7 min.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-high; add garlic, ginger, and seasoning mix; cook, stirring, 2 min.
  6. Add ¼ C tomato juice and scrape up anything that may have stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  7. Stir in ½ C tomatoes and the Lamb.
  8. Reduce the heat to simmer, stir occasionally, until the liquid is cooled down and thickened slightly, 5-7 min.
  9. Stir in the remaining tomatoes and juice.
  10. Cover and maintain heat at simmer. Cook until the lamb is tender, 45 to 60 min for the cubes (15-20 min if you’re using ground lamb).
  11. Skim any fat from the surface of the liquid, increase heat to medium and simmer briskly until the sauce is cooked down and thickened.
  12. Stir in the cilantro.

Serve over Hot Cooked Basmati Rice, with Indian Lentil Puree (Dal), and Roti (Bread): Naan, Paratha, etc.

Notes

The best source of knowledge about what foods Pirates ate is A New Voyage Round the World by William Dampier.

William Dampier: Global Foodie, Pirate. Answers, ‘What foods did Pirates eat?’

It’s a 3-Volume set of his journals, published from 1699 to 1709. He was a scholar, soldier, laborer, land owner, businessman, Pirate, Captain of 2 merchant ships, and gentleman.

His writings covered the winds, currents and geography for more accurate maps; food, people, culture not only of ports of call but of the scalawags, ruffians, and Privateers’ battles and mutinies on board ships; and added a more concise science of plants and animals to the knowledge base of England.

His adventures took him around the Atlantic, Caribbean, Central America, around South America, across to Australia, SE Asia, and India, around Africa and back to England. His volumes were well received by society and scholars thirsty for knowledge of the New Worlds.

Because he was so adventurous at sampling the local foods, he was declared the first Global Foodie.

Leave a comment if you are so moved. Ask a question about India or Dampier or being a Foodie Pirate. And let me know when you make this for your folks, be they family, friends, or seadogs looking to pilfer some vittles. This is after all an excellent Pirate Party Food Recipe.

A Foodie Pirate? Why, gee, that’s me!

Cooking for Pirates, where every meal is a party for a Pirate.

14 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your website with us. I never heard of food for pirates. I wonder what they ate back in those days. Red lamb stew sounds good.

    • Red Lamb Stew is truly amazing food.
      I am sure you can get some good curries at the store. Maybe in the frozen section of your neighborhood store? I wouldn’t know because I always have made my own!!
      Pirate Mike – Foodie Pirate
      But, by all means, get some.

  2. Well Pirate Mike, my mouth is watering.  I have been to India on a number of occasions, including Chennai. I am in love with Indian cuisine and it so happens, Dal is a firm favorite. Your recoup sounds great, I will defiantly try it out this week.  The Rogan Josh is one my husbands favorite dishes, so your two recipes are so on the menu this next week.  I enjoy how Indian cooking uses fresh spices, and the preparation process is fun.  Thank you for sharing these amazing dishes with us, and some background on your trip to India, a place not for the feint of heart, but such a vibrant and exciting country.  Looking forward to your next Pirate adventure. Denise.

    • Denise, I appreciate your wonderful note.

      There is no way to describe the social phenomenon that is India. I was most fascinated by the traffic flow. A whole sea of humanity, so tightly packed, and moving through the street with countless miracles. A whole middle class family on a scooter in their nice clothes; bicycles, lorries, cows all in the traffic mix. Truly a site that cannot be described to others who have not been there to experience it.

      I have made this curry a bunch of ways. One of my student’s mom gave me a container of home-made curry powder with a little spoon in it. Instead of the list of spices in the Seasoning Mix, I just used 3 T of her curry powder. And making a paste of fresh garlic, ginger, peppercorns, ghee or olive oil is just the height of aroma and taste. Indian Cuisine has been such a delight to me… and I am happy that you share in that, too.

      I meet so many people with my cooking…. I’d love to share a meal, cooking, talking, smiling.

      Thank you.

      Pirate Mike – The Foodie Pirate

  3. Thanks for the recipe, I will try it myself. I just thinking where to get lamb meat.

    I am also from the Orient but still love to eat Oriental foods. Usually, if you are from the Orient, what you will crave are food from the other side of the world, like from Europe. But for me, even though I’m from the East, I am still excited to eat Eastern foods. The reason is, I love eating foods that are spicy!

    But I’d like to ask, why is this website and blog post being associated to pirates? Aren’t pirates bad? The are taking away things that belong to other people! So, why use that term “pirate” here and what’s exciting with that?

    • Hi Gomer,

      I do wish for you to make this and experience the wonder it extolls. And of course, adjust the ingredients to your liking! Believe me I have made this spicier than this recipe.

      As for Pirates, that is a tough question. You are correct, many plundered others and stole their goods, and people on both sides died. They were ruthless and cruel. It was the same conditions as war.

      There are people in this day and age in the US and Europe who love Pirates, like the Pirates of the Caribbean movies… there are now 7 of them, I believe, and there is talk about making another one with a woman pirate… like Anne Bonny. Some of us even love future Pirates like Captain Mal Reynolds and the crew of the Firefly-class starship Serenity.

      We dress up as Pirates, go to festivals, drink rum, talk like Pirates, listen to sea shanties, and enjoy the old ‘tall ships’ of wind and sail. So, the site is really for us who enjoy the camaraderie of being together and kind of reenacting an exciting lifetime before us. Maybe like those who reenact wars. These are for Pirates to enjoy at parties and hopefully at home. It’s just another way to celebrate. Eat, Drink and Be Merry.

      Another reason for Pirates is: many of the ones who we in the US know were Privateers during the time England and France were at war with Spain. Spain was ‘stealing’ the land masses and the wealth of the Americas and leaving nothing for the rest of the Colonial Powers. England and France were at war with Spain, but because of the ‘rules of engagement’ they could not attack the Spanish galleons at sea. But Pirates could.

      So, many of the Pirates in the 16th and 17th centuries in the Atlantic and Caribbean were actually outfitted by merchants and secretly condoned by the government. Sir Francis Drake was knighted because he was such a destructive force against Spain. He stole their treasure and made it harder for the Spanish to wage war. 

      And they could receive a share of the booty. Many Pirvateers were entrepreneurs of a sort who waged war on the Spanish with tacit approval of the Crown. When they were caught and judged by the courts, they were tried and convicted of Piracy, but most were let loose to be Captain and crew on another ship. 

      Toward the end of the era, and the Spanish Armada was sunk and Spain’s power dwindled, then the Pirates were hunted down and stopped.

      Pirates of the Barbary Coast and in the China seas are not as known to me, but I have read some stories of the cruelty and plundering.

      I guess there might be a fascination with them because the criminal aspect. We’ve seen the Mafia movies, Bonnie and Clyde saga, theives like Ocean’s 11, etc. We would never engage in pillaging and plundering, but there is a romantic notion surrounding Pirates.

      I hope that is okay with you.

      Bon appitit, my friend.

      Pirate Mike – Foodie Pirate

  4. Thanks for sharing your website with us. Red Lamb stew sounds so good. It makes me want to eat. If that’s what the pirates ate in the past, then I wouldn’t mind being a pirate. I hope it’s not hot and spicy. Can you get that stuff at the regular grocery store? If so, I would love to get some.

    • Hey, Big Rog,

      This is a great Red Lamb Stew. It is so wonderful to experience the tastes and the dlightful lamb bites in the sauce. 

      There have been Pirates all over the world for Centuries. Most of us are familiar with the Pirates in the Atlantic/Caribbean area during the plundering of the Spanish ships, Pirating their tons of gold.

      You would make an awesome Pirate.

      This is not too hot and spicy. But if you are unfamiliar with the amount of ingredients, start on the low side, and build up from there. Believe me, I have made it a lot hotter. It will be just as big of a sensation on a milder scale.

      I am sure you can get some good curries at the store. Maybe in the frozen section of your neighborhood store? I wouldn’t know because I always have made my own!! But, by all means, get some.

      All I know is that when people taste this they go crazy. 

      I appreciate your stopping by and leaving a note.

      Bon appitit.

      Pirate Mike – Foodie Pirate

  5. Hi Pirate Mike

    I am a keen cook myself and one night a week I prepare a curry, either Indian or Thai. I read your recipe with joy, as it is something which I have never tried before. It looks quite easy to make and I bet it is delicious to try. The only thing is that I am so use to metric measurements of grammes and  ml that I find cups too confusing. 

    Once again thank you for recipe.

    Antonio

    • Good day to you, Antonio,

      Being a cook is a great hobby, plus you get to control what goes into increasing your health and happiness. What else do you cook besides a curry once a week?

      I am so glad you like this. It’s an excellent curry. I want to go out right now and make it again!!

      One thing is that if you are making lots of curries, you might have a favorite curry powder. You can use 3 T Curry powder instead of the Seasoning Mix.

      Also, grinding fresh olive oil, fresh garlic, ginger, and peppercorns into a paste might be more time consuming, but the effect of the fresh tastes make the dish so much more vibrant. 

      I appreciate your dropping me a note.

      Bon appitit.

      Pirate Mike – Foodie Pirate

  6. A foodie like myself has added this red lamb meal ingredients and its preparation into my recipe diary. I love exploring new taste and feel the pleasure. This red lamb meat preparation appears to be easy and I will love to try it out. From history, Indian culture is very good in making best food alternative for vegans. Aside that, their food generally is superb followed by Chinese food. 

    • Stella, I’m to meet you…. Foodies unite!

      It is good that this Lamb Curry recipe suits your tastes and it’s now in your recipe diary.

      This is a great recipe for exploring at home and for presenting to other folks that makes a meal a celebration.

      And it is easy, healthy comfort food. 

      I too love Indian food. I love how it uses all kinds of different spices, herbs, peppers, garlic, onions, ginger, ghee, etc. To me it’s one of thee most exotic cuisines in the world. I love cooking it, and smelling it, and tasting it, and sharing it.

      My other cuisines that I love the Cajun-Creole of Louisiana and the Mexican-Latin based food in Texas.

      Enjoy a great day.

      Pirate Mike – Foodie

  7. Ahoy Pirate Mike!

    It’s always a pleasure to visit your website and find out about your newest recipes.

    Fact is, I love Indian food and I have never tried this delicious Lamp Curry with tomatoes. I am going to the supermarket now to buy the ingredients as my friends are going to visit me for dinner tomorrow.

    Speaking of Indian food, I have never managed to find a good recipe for Chicken Tikka. Do you happen to have one handy?

    • Harry, I am glad that you have stopped by again for some Indian food this time.

      This Lamb Curry recipe is wonderful for dazzling your friends with. Lucky you. Be sure to add the lentils and rice. Add some roti and some raita and you have the complete wonderful healthy meal.

      Let me know how your Pirate Party turned out.

      Let me check about Chicken Tikka. When I was in India in 2000 and 20001, Tikkas were my go to food. Chicken, Mutton (never could figure out whether this was lamb or goat), and Fish Tikka. I should have a Tikka recipe in one of my cook books that I can get to you soon.

      Thanks for leaving such an excellent comment.

      Pirate Mike – Global Foodie

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