Sup Kambing Mamak

Spicy Mamak-style Lamb Soup

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The mamak are Indian-Muslim Malaysians who migrated to Malaysia from Kerala and Tamil Nadu in South India during the 19th century. This lamb soup is a popular mamak dish that Malaysians enjoy eating, and it is especially warming during the rainy season. It is best enjoyed with thick slices of white bread or baguette.

Ingredients

  • 500 g (1 lb oz) lamb, shanks or shoulders, with some bone to give the soup a rich and robust flavour
  • Lemon juice, as needed
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1.5 litres (48 fl oz / 6 cups) water
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 2 celery sticks (optional), diced
  • Salt, to taste
  • A handful of chopped coriander leaves
  • 1 Tbsp crisp-fried shallots

Spice A

  • 3 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp white peppercorns
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns

Spice B

  • 150 g (5⅓ oz) shallots, peeled
  • 2 bird’s eye chillies
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 25 g ( oz) ginger, peeled and grated
  • 20 blanched almonds
  • 2 candlenuts
  • 250 ml (8 fl oz / 1 cup) water

Tempering Spices

  • 3 cloves
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 5-cm (2-inch) length cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise

Method

  • Toast the ingredients for spice A in a dry pan over low heat until fragrant. Set aside to cool, then grind into a fine powder using a spice grinder. You can make a big batch of this spice and store it in an airtight container. It will last for months.
  • Place the ingredients for spice B in a blender and process until fine. Set aside.
  • Trim fat on lamb and cut into cubes. Wash with a little lemon juice to get rid of the fat and reduce any gamey smell.
  • Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottom pan over medium heat. Add the tempering spices and fry until it starts to splutter. Add spice B and stir continuously over medium-low heat.
  • Add a little water to spice A to make a thick paste. Add to the pan and keep stirring until it is almost dry. Turn up the heat to high and add the lamb cubes. Cook, stirring for about 3 minutes.
  • Add the water and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and let it simmer for at least 45 minutes. Keep an eye on the pot and add more water as needed.
  • After 45 minutes, check that the lamb is tender and cooked through. Simmer for another 30 minutes, if needed.
  • Add the vegetables and season to taste with salt. Simmer until the vegetables are tender.
  • Serve hot, garnished with coriander leaves and crisp-fried shallots.

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