This recipe comes to us from Manjit Gill, head chef at Bukhara at the ITC Maurya, a Luxury Collection Hotel in New Delhi. Bukhara won The World’s 50 Best Restaurant’s “Best Restaurant In Asia” award in 2006 and 2007 (check out the 2012 winners here), and recently finished a pop-up location at the Sheraton Park Tower in London. Ee’re delighted that Chef Gill loaned us his signature lamb dish, as well as the history behind it:
The official name of this ancient dish is Sikandari Raan, which translates to “Alexander’s Lamb.” The story: Alexander the Great captured the Indian King Porus in battle, with great difficulty, around 300 BC. When asked how he wanted to be treated in captivity, Porus answered, “Like a king.” Alexander released Porus and agreed to be his friend. The barbecued whole leg of lamb was the highlight at the battlefield banquet held to celebrate the new legendary friendship of the Great Alexander (or Sikandar) with Porus of Takshila.
Sikandari Raan is the signature dish at Bukhara, and diners love it — the subtle flavor, juicy succulence from charbroiling, larger portions, lean meat and the ritual of sharing and eating with your fingers makes for an excellent meal. A great amount of care is required while seasoning and heating. The meat is braised to achieve the final subtle tastes – salty, pungent, sour, sweet, bitter all at the same time.
- 2 legs of lamb
- 8 tablespoons rock salt
- 4 tablespoons red chili powder
- 1/2 cup ginger paste
- 1/2 cup garlic paste
- 1 cup malt vinegar
- 8 bay leaves
- 3 sticks cinnamon, broken into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons black cumin seeds
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon kebab masala
For the kebab masala
- 3 teaspoons dried raw mango powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/4 teaspoon rock salt
- 2 teaspoons fenugreek powder
- 1 teaspoon black salt
- 1 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder
- 1 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
- Clean and trim the fat from the lamb leg. Gently loosen the meat from the bone at the top of the leg to season well.
- Rub salt and red chili powder on the leg, then rub on ginger and garlic pastes.
- Arrange in a roasting tray; pour over malt vinegar and water till the lamb legs are almost covered.
- Add bay leaves and cinnamon sticks; sprinkle black cumin on top. Cover and braise in the pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for 2 to 2 ½ hours.
- Turn off the oven, and let the lamb legs cool in the oven at 300 degrees. Remove legs from the liquid and let them air-dry for 10 minutes.
- Skewer the braised leg, and roast on charcoal or in the oven at 350 degrees. While roasting, baste with a little clarified butter. Continue roasting until the meat gets a nice roast-brown color.
- Remove, drizzle with lemon juice and a little butter, and sprinkle with kebab masala.