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Rack of lamb Lasan [Recipe]

In January, I was in the audience for the final of The F Word, Gordon Ramsay's recurrent sleb-filled saga which was themed this year on Britain's best local restaurants. (If you're some kind of stalker you can watch it here: I crop up a few times, apparently growing out the back of Janet Street Porter's head.)

It seemed to me a very long day, and I spent those 12 hours parked at table – God knows what it was like for the wretched runners and waiters, not to mention chefs. But for what it's worth, I think the right restaurant won: a Birmingham Indian called Lasan. Their masala beef (original recipe here) was gaspingly accomplished: its extraordinary depth of flavour, its rich, fragrant headiness, the way it zipped with cardamom and ginger and the cashew-thickened smoothness of its sauce – they had me at hello.

Allens had given me a beautiful rack of lamb, and I thought I'd apply Lasan's method to it. It worked even better than I'd hoped. The gentle spicing never threatened to overcome the tender nuggety flesh, and the papaya-scented marinade gave the charred fat hints of Goa and sun.

I simplified Lasan's approach only slightly: I didn't have any cassia bark so I left it out, and I simmered the sauce in lamb stock rather than making a fresh one from veal. I varied some quantities here and there, but mostly I was pretty faithful. We ate it with a dollop of gently steamed spinach – wrong time of year for pumpkin – and a quick pilaff which I flavoured with a little tamarind. It all ate beautifully.

Rack of lamb Lasan

Serves 4

2 racks of lamb (2 or 3 chops apiece. I may have had 4 but, um, one of them was quite small)

For the marinade:
1 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
1 blitzed ripe papaya
2 tbsp mustard oil
1 tsp tandoori masala
½ tsp hot chilli powder
½ tsp roasted ground cumin
½ tsp turmeric
A few grinds of pepper
Pinch of salt

For the sauce:
75ml mustard oil
4 green cardamom pods
3 bay leaves
2 large onions, sliced
½ tbsp garlic and ginger paste
½ tbsp ground coriander
½ tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp hot chilli powder
1 tsp salt
1 tin tomatoes, chopped
1l lamb stock
4 tbsp smooth cashew nut paste (toasted cashews blitzed with a little water)
Good pinch of ground cardamom

Trim and score the lamb. Mix together all the marinade ingredients, coat the lamb evenly and marinate for 6 hours. Preheat the oven to 220ºC.

Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the cardamom and bay leaves and sauté for a minute. Add the onion and brown slightly, then add the garlic, ginger and spices. Cook on a low heat for 4-5 minutes, then season. Add the tomato and stock and simmer for 1½ hours. To finish the sauce, add the cashew nut paste and ground cardamom just before serving.

Remove lamb from marinade and wipe off excess with kitchen paper. Season the lamb well. In a very hot pan, seal the meat on all sides in a little sunflower oil. Transfer to oven and roast for 12 minutes for medium rare. Remove from oven, cover with foil and rest for 15 minutes before carving.

It seems Uncle Gordon is doing something similar this year: one of his upcoming shows is called, opaquely, Gordon Ramsay's Best Restaurant. The producers sent me a press release for it and it would seem churlish not to give them a quick plug. Details here.


  1. That lamb looks cooked to perfection Ollie. Love the idea of the spinach too, seems like an even better choice than the pumpkin.

  2. That looks utterly delicious. Interesting that it uses papaya too, as I think there's an enzyme in it that tenderises meat.