Sali Boti (Lamb with Apricots)

This recipe was adapted from one by Ashok Bajaj, owner of the Bombay Club in Washington, D.C. The combination is of Parsi, or Persian, origin and contains the mixture of fruit, meat, and spices that is common to Parsi-inspired Indian cooking.


Match the warm spice of the lamb with wines of similar character, such as Oregon Pinot Noir from Domaine Drouhin or a lighter-weight Syrah, such as a Crozes-Hermitage or a St.-Joseph from producer Philippe Faury.

  • For the ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 (1 1/2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • For the lamb
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 4 to 6 dried pitted apricots
  • 4 cups (or enough for deep-frying) plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium Idaho potato, julienned
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 medium tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (spice mixture)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
  • 2 pounds lamb, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup plain yogurt, whipped until smooth
  • Salt and pepper to taste

To make the ginger garlic paste: Combine the ginger, garlic, and water in a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process until smooth. Set aside. The paste can be kept, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

To prepare the lamb: Heat the sugar in a heavy-bottomed pan over high heat until golden brown. (Be careful not to let the sugar burn, or to touch the hot sugar, as it can cause serious burns.) Carefully add the vinegar and apricots, stir to combine, remove from the heat, and set aside.

In a heavy, flat-bottomed saucepan set over medium-high heat, heat 4 cups of oil (or enough oil to cover the potatoes and allow them to move a bit in the pan) until it sizzles. (Use a pan that’s big enough; the oil should not come more than halfway up the sides of the pan.) When a deep-frying thermometer reads 365 degrees F., add the potato and fry until golden. Remove from the heat with a slotted spoon, drain well on paper towels, and set aside. (If you do not have a deep-frying thermometer, test the hotness of the oil by dropping a small piece of bread into the oil. If it browns immediately, the oil is ready. The oil should not smoke; if it does, it is too hot.)

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan set over high heat until it sizzles. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 5 to 10 minutes, until lightly golden brown. Add 1 tablespoon of the ginger-garlic paste and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chopped tomato and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the turmeric, garam masala, chili powder if using, and lamb. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes.

Add the yogurt and return to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the lamb is tender and cooked through.

Add the caramelized sugar and apricot mixture to the dish and mix thoroughly. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Pour the lamb mixture into a serving bowl and top it up with the golden fried potatoes. Serve immediately.

Published on December 17, 2009
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Dylan Garret

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