British seasonality delivers new food treats for the cooking pot year round. From March Wild Garlic is one of those anticipated delights I return to my local patch with merry annual occurance. The idea behind this Dutch Oven Wild Garlic Lamb Vindaloo was to incorporate several layers of garlic flavour, from the garlic clove to the fresh green leaves and finally the floral zing of the garlic flowers.
The slow cooked vinegar marinated lamb from the Dutch Oven infused with toasted spices, green chilli and the various garlic notes running through the rich tangy sauce will play a merry ditty that will most certainly make your palette dance.
The Cooking Fire
We need a moderate sized fire with a good ember base as this will need about 3 hours cooking time to transform the base ingredients into a magical meal. Not too specific on the wood type as the cast iron of the pot will even out any heat fluctuations from the fire or ember. Main thing is to build a fire that maximises your comfort and lighting and then adjust the cast iron cooking pots position to suit. Hung from a tripod, placed on the grill, or if a legged pot stood on some raked out embers by the fire is just perfect. More details in our Guide to Dutch Oven Cooking.
Fire Pit Wild Garlic Lamb Vindaloo Recipe
Vindaloo may evoke thoughts of level 11 mouth burning. Yes we like a bit of heat but the aim here is not to blow your guests heads off but to incorporate the freshness of green chilli flavour into the dish with out being uncomfortable. Done right the balance of the slow cooked lamb, vinegar marinade, warm garlicly rich sauce complimented by the freshness of the leaves and green chilli make it a wonderfully refreshing curry, a joy to eat.
Due to the vinegar and tomato base of this curry use a well seasoned cooking pot. Also fear not if the wild garlic is out of season or you are unsure of what to pick as using just the shop bought garlic cloves and finishing with some fresh chopped mint and coriander leaf would be just as delectable.
A delightful tangy lamb curry cooked in a dutch oven cast iron cooking pot over a fire pit. Featuring several layers of garlic flavour from shop bought cloves to foraged wild garlic leaves and flowers then fragranced with fresh green chillies.
- 1 tbsp Cumin Seed
- 1 tbsp Corriander Seed
- 1 tsp Cloves
- 1 tsp Black pepper corn
- 8 Cardamon Pods
- 1.5 tsp Sugar
- 5 tbsp Red wine vinegar
- 3 tbsp Vegetable oil
- 10 Garlic Cloves
- 2 Medium onions
- 1.3 Kg Leg or Shoulder of Lamb
- 2 Medium Tomatoes
- 1 Handfull Wild Garlic Flowers
- 1 Handfull Wild Garlic leaves (or Corriander/Mint leaves)
- 200 ml Water
- 2 tbsp Ghee (Butter or vegetable oil)
- 2 tsp Sea Salt Flakes
- 1 medium white onion
- 300 ml plain yoghurt
- 1/2 Lemon
- 1 handful Mint leaves (and/or mint sauce)
If boned remove the bone from the lamb joint and cut into inch sized cubes. Keep the bone as we can use this in the stewing to add further flavour.
For the marinade/curry base then toast the spices (cardamon pods, cloves, pepper, coriander, cumin seeds) by adding a hot dry pot (or pan) on the fire, shake or stir to keep them moving until they are lightly browned. Spice toasting will bring out the spice volatiles and add a sensational nutty aroma. Transfer the seeds to pestle and mortar and grind into a pungent spice mix.
A great cooling accompaniment for this dish is a very simple raita. One fine chopped white onion, mixed with plain yoghurt, handful of chopped mint and the juice of half a lemon. If you like your curry takeaway raita add a couple of tablespoons of mint sauce. Mix in a bowl and leave ready to to serve.
Add the spice mix to a blender or use the mortar & pestle with the onion rough chopped, vegetable oil, vinegar, garlic cloves & sugar- blitz into a fine paste. Mix in with the lamb and leave at least an hour before cooking. If your heading to the wilds to cook this preparing at home putting in a food storage container it should be fine left over night in the fridge.
Initially we need a high heat to fry off the meat so place the dutch oven on embers or hang close to the fire, when hot add the ghee (or butter or veg oil) followed by the marinated lamb. Fry and stir occasionally until the onion paste starts to turn golden and the lamb pieces are well sealed.
We now set the pot further from the fire, Firemark 3 link will be ideal, either on the legs or hung from a tripod. Add any remaining bones to the pot along with the water, bay leaves, salt, and chillies. Place the lid on the pot and leave for a couple of hours checking occasionally.
Further detail of pot cooking can be read on our guide Dutch Oven Cooking techniques. In summary for this dish if you can hear the pot bubbling away its too close to the fire, we want a gentle long simmer, by carefully touching the lid of the pot it should be uncomfortably hot- this test with no bubbling noise is a dutch oven stew working at its best. If you feel one side is getting to vigorous turn the pot- the thick cast iron is very forgiving over variable heat sources and the heat should settle evenly on the stew.
A couple of hours have passed, a tasting nibble of a bit of lamb reveals a delicately soft piece of meat in a tangy sumptuous sauce- time to finish the feast. If your serving naan, give about 5-10 minutes to toast them by the fire until golden and warmed throughout
Let's treat the wild garlic leaves as you would adding spinach to to a curry: we add them a couple of minutes before taking the pot off the heat- rough chopped is fine. Reserve about a third of the wild garlic flowers for dressing the plates then add the remaining flowers to the curry (or the chopped coriander and mint if you are not using the wild garlic).
A generous ladel of Wild Garlic Vindaloo to the plate, whole gem lettuce leaves drizzled with the raita laid there about with cut strips of fire roast naan. A final flurry of the wild garlic flowers scattered over from above, this dish is ready to serve.