‘Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee …’ Mass and chops. My Uncle Abbu was distinctly more enthusiastic about one than the other. Sundays were truly heavenly for him. It wasn’t the aroma of incense or the flowing robes worn by the Fathers or the cool, darkened church that sparked his celestial interest, it was the careful preparation of Sunday Chops. He truly believed these marinated pieces of lamb had been blessed by the Trinity. As he mumbled his way through his Hail Mary and the liturgies alongside his siblings, he couldn’t take his mind off the lust that ravaged his belly … surely there would be penance to pay?
His mind wandered to the wooden family lunch table where he and his brothers and sisters would rip into Mama’s treats of perfectly cooked, tender lamb back chops. The masala yoghurt mix would work its miraculous power deep into the meat rinsed with lemon and peppered with vibrant coriander leaves. His gastric soul would perform Ave Marias whilst his taste buds erupted into a chorus of hallelujahs. As he was nudged by his younger brother to join the communion line he wondered, ‘Is it possible for food to be truly heavenly?’
In my opinion the answer lies in Abbu’s entrée version of Mama’s recipe, Divine Chops.
- 12 lamb chops, fat trimmed
For the marinade
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 6cm fresh root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 green chillies
- ½ tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 150g natural yoghurt
- 2 tsp salt
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
How To Make Tandoori Lamb Chops
Blend all the ingredients for the marinade in a food processor. You’ll end up with a smooth paste. In a bowl, combine the chops and the marinade, cover and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours, or overnight if you’ve got the time.
Heat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Spread the marinade-smothered chops in a non-stick baking tin, cover with foil and cook for 30 minutes. After this time, the yoghurt and the meat’s juices will have created a clearish ‘water’ – spoon this out as the chops need be dry. Cover and cook for a further 15 minutes, after which if there’s more juice, spoon it off. Turn the chops over, leave them uncovered and cook for another 10 minutes. Once done, tear off a little with a fork. The meat should be tender and easy to pull off the bone.
Serve hot, rinsed with lemon and sprinkled with coriander. Accompany with a fresh, sharp Desi Salad.