He now demolishes platefuls of tandoori chicken wings, the spicy kind from the Asian supermarket, and has developed a remarkable tolerance for extra-hot peri-peri sauce.
This is all good, and to be expected from a young Bradfordian. We know a thing or two about spicy food, you see.
The other one, the little one, is showing no such enthusiasm. Yesterday, she decided that she could no longer tolerate ham. On pushing, she did concede to liking ham when it was hot, but not cold. I mean, seriously, what on earth?
This curry was an attempt to cover all bases. It tastes Indian, it looks Indian, but its spicing comes from places other than the chilli plant. What we’ve got here is a fragrant lamb and tomato stew, with distinctly Asian overtones, something that’s mild, accommodating, but still packed with flavour and body.
I love my chilli, but I also enjoyed this.
The key deviation I made from the recipe in the frankly awesome (much overused work, but used correctly here) Tasting India by Christine Manfield was to use mutton shoulder, on the bone. Those bones make a hell of a difference, boosting the flavour and giving the dish real soul. Mutton shoulder is a good, economical cut, too, and Asian food like this is very suited to it…long, slow braising help the tough meat to soften into tenderness and give the subtle spices time to work their way into the meat.
The tomato part of the dish is nothing more than 500g of ripe tomatoes, quartered and left to simmer gently for half an hour. To give this its twist, throw four cloves and a green cardamom pod into some hot oil, heated through in a large pan – the spices need to sizzle and spit – before adding the tomatoes.
When the tomatoes have cooked to a soft pulp, push them through a sieve to remove the seeds and the skin, leaving a smooth sauce behind.
For the base of the curry, heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large pan, and add two bay leaves, four cloves and four green cardamom pods, followed closely behind by 500g of thinly sliced red onions. Stir for a minute, then add eight cloves of minced garlic and two teaspoons of minced ginger. Lower the heat, cover the pan and cook for ten minutes until the onions start to turn pink and translucent.
Add 500g of diced mutton, stir and cover. Cook for another ten minutes then add the tomato gravy and two teaspoons of salt. Cover the pan yet again and bubble away on a low heat for at least an hour, maybe longer, until the mutton is soft.
To finish, stir through a handful of chopped fresh coriander and serve with parathas or chapatis.