lucknowi siege lamb and cotswolds indian food feasting

Last weekend spicy food lured us down our hill two nights running. We were fed and entertained in sumptuous style at the Great Indian Food Feast and followed our noses to the wonderful spicy smells of Indian street food the following night. All in Chipping Campden, a great little Cotswolds town for eating and cooking, but perhaps better know for cream teas and roast lamb than Indian feasting.

Thanks to award-winning chef Indunil Sanchi and self-styled Urban Rajah, Ivor Peters, there was still excellent local lamb, but this time it was marinated in 24 spices and slow -cooked to produce a wonderfully tender, tongue-tingling dish. And the sweet treat involved an entertaining pancake master-class with honey coconut, sticky toffee ice-cream and caramel sauce.

indy curry nights

At the Indian Food Feast we were greeted with an Amuse Bouche of tasty little steamed lentil cakes before sitting down to a fabulous array of curries, pakoras and patties that ranged from Punjab street food to fabulous dishes fit for a Maharani. In between eating, we were taken on a foodie adventure around the Indian Sub Continent by Ivor Peters.

Chappli Kebabs

BITE Curry Nights 31

Imaginative chef, author of Curry Memoirs and pop-up restaurateur, Ivor is also a self-confessed dandy and a great entertainer.  Splendid in orange velvet jacket and with his signature perfectly groomed moustache, Ivor treated us to tales that leapt from Indian sieges to the chapatti shuffle in his grandparent’s kitchen. He described childhood feasts of vividly spiced food, with big family groups sitting picnic style on luridly coloured sheets (this was the 1970s) and niftily skipped back to Victorian banquets. Encouraging us to chat about spices and get our own “curry clinic” going while we feasted on Spiced Red Lentil & Chicken Patties from Andra Pradesh and Masala Crusted Whitebait from the Malabar Coast.

Masala Crusted Whitebait

Listening and eating, it felt like a celebration of all the imaginatively spiced  regional dishes that are so far removed from the dumbed down versions so many of us have experienced from takeaways or in jars.

I wrote a few months ago about Indunil’s wonderful Black Lamb Curry that he cooks regularly at the Noel Arms. Now I’m hankering after his Cashew Nut and Green Pea curry, a dish that Indy ate as a child in Sri Lanka. Ivor told us that Indy soaks the cashew nuts before cooking to recreate the creamy texture of fresh cashews that he remembers from childhood.

My other favourite dish from the evening was Lucknowi Siege Lamb, so I was very excited when Ivor and Indunil were happy to share the recipe. They use mutton, which I’d like to try, but in the meantime I’ve been using lamb shanks in curries, cooking them on a really low heat for hours so that the lamb falls off the bone resulting in tasty, tender lamb. Also remembering Alex from Dale Cottage diaries reminder of the nutrition value of cooking meat on the bone slowly in dishes. The list of ingredients may seem a little scary but the curry powder and garam masala can obviously be made in decent quantities and stored in jars for future curries.

Lucknowi Siege Lamb

Serves 4–6

  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1kg boneless mutton, diced
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds, pounded into powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 8 cloves
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ginger and garlic paste
  • 400g natural yoghurt
  • 5 green chillies
  • 250g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 500ml water
  • 12 curry leaves
  • 12 saffron strands
  • 1 tsp kewra (aka screwpine water) or rosewater
  • Coriander leaves, chopped


Garam Masala

  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • ¾ tsp crushed bay leaves
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 4–5 green cardamom pods (or ½ tsp seeds)
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 large black cardamom pods (or ¾ tsp seeds)
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 1 piece of cassia bark
  • ½ tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 6 juniper berries
  • ½ tsp ground mace
  • 1/3 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 star anise pod

 Heat a frying pan on a medium heat, then add all the spices. Dry-roast for 2 minutes until they brown and start to scent the room. DON’T burn them. Leave to cool. Peel the cardamom pods and release the seeds into the other spices, tip into a pestle and mortar (or blender) and blast them.


Curry Powder


4 ½ tsp ground coriander

2 tsp turmeric

6 bay leaves

1 ½ tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp whole black peppercorn

½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

½ tsp cardamom seeds

½ inch cinnamon stick

¼ tsp whole cloves

¼ tsp ground ginger


Pop everything in a blender and blitz for a couple of minutes


Fry up the onions in the oil until crispy and golden, then set them aside on kitchen towel to dry out. Keep the oil. In the same pan, using the onion oil, brown off the mutton, adding the cardamom, fennel, coriander, paprika and chilli powder. When the mutton is browned, drop in the cloves, peppercorns and salt and cook over a low heat for around 30 minutes, until the meat has started to cook in its own juices and the mix is looking darker. Blend the yoghurt, chillies, reserved fried onions, curry powder and tomatoes, turning it into a paste. Add the paste into the pan and swish the ingredients around until everything is coated. Turn up the heat to medium, tip in the garam masala, curry leaves and cook for a further 1½ hours, making sure you stir frequently. To stop the ingredients drying out and sticking to the bottom of the pan, add the water at intervals. The curry shouldn’t be too runny. Just before serving, add a teaspoon of kewra or rosewater.

Serve with rotis or rice and garnish with chopped coriander. Recipe from Ivor Peters.

Lucknowi Siege Lamb

The night after our feast, thanks to the Bite Food Festival, there were reindeers, carols, a Christmas market and street food in Campden. Ivor was cooking tandoori chicken, lamb kebabs and masala paneer on an open grill to eat in wraps and we obviously couldn’t resist a double-bill of spice.

Very exciting that there’ll be Indian Food Feasting in Chipping Campden in February too as part of the week long Bite Food Festival. The Festival will run from Saturday 1st Feb to Sunday 9th Feb 2014 and will include all sorts of breakfasts, brunches, lunches teas and dinners, pop-up restaurants, master-classes, talks by celebrity chefs and food writers and artisan food markets.

I’m particularly excited by the idea of more Indian Street Food, a Peruvian pop-up restaurant,  of Elisabeth Luard visiting Campden (I’m a big fan of her books that celebrate wonderful rustic European cooking) and the fact that the festival includes lots for children. There’s a Chipping Campden school cooking competition for 11-18 year olds and a Mad Hatters Tea Party run by the very stylish Burford Garden Company.

I love the fact that at the Mad Hatters Tea Party, which will be an edible rabbit-hole of wizardry, dancing, riddles and fancy dress, audience participation is optional but hats are essential. A full programme of events is here.

With thanks to Indunil and Ivor for spicing up the Cotswolds and for the great recipe  and to Bite for inviting me to the wonderful Indian Food Feast.





black lamb curry and cotswolds indian feasting

I ate the most delicious black lamb curry this week. You know the sort of dish that makes you lie in bed dreaming about it a few days later. Or is that just me?

Indunil Sanchi, chef of The Noel Arms in Chipping Campden, my favourite local place for a curry, explained to me that he adds 100g of black pepper to 1kg of lamb. The lamb is local, delicious and cooked slowly for hours, which tenderises it beautifully but also does something magical with all that pepper. When Indunil, who has been awarded Pub Curry chef of the year for the last 3 years, once told a judge how much pepper he was adding to this dish, the judge thought he’d made a mistake with quantities. Then he tasted it. And obviously enjoyed it as much as I did; it was the winning dish.


Apparently in Sri Lanka, where Indunil originates, black curry is normally made with vegetables and this is something I’d love to try with my garden gluts. But having settled in the Cotswolds with his family 9 years ago, Indy seems to have really enjoyed experimenting with local ingredients in curries from Burma, Indonesia, Jamaica, Thailand and different regions of India as well as Sri Lanka.

I think this is one of the reasons I’m such a fan of the monthly Thursday night curry nights at the Noel Arms – it’s great value for such interesting, unusual curries, they’re all properly cooked from scratch and come with wonderful home-made chutney and breads, yet they use great local ingredients too.

Fantastic then that curry is going to play such a tasty part in the Cotswold food festival, Bite 2014. Indunil is teaming up with Ivor Peters, self-styled Urban Rajah and pop-up restaurateur, whose Curry Memoirs I reviewed here. Ivor’s Waste Not Want Not Mixed Sabzi is now one of my favourite dishes to use home-grown veggies in and his book is a great read too. It’ll transport you to colourful Indian streets where chefs with manicured silver moustaches conjure up earthy meals with notes of musk and bursts of fresh chilli and ginger. You’ll be ransacking your cupboards for spices after reading it.


The Urban Rajah has some great ideas for Afternoon tea by way of Pakistan here and I fancy making his Rajah fried chicken with masala popcorn to scoff with a Friday night film one weekend. A master of wordsmithery and a self-confessed dandy, Ivor should be a perfect entertaining partner for Indunil on their Great Indian Food Feast.

A gastronomic adventure, the Great Indian Food Feast celebrates Britain’s love for curry but the food will be far removed from the dumbed down versions of imaginatively spiced dishes that so many of us have eaten from takeaways and jars. Dishes will be introduced from various corners of the Indian subcontinent, from family recipes featured in the Urban Rajah’s Curry Memoirs and from Indunil’s vast recipe collection.




I can’t wait to try streetfood dishes and hard to find gourmet recipes from across India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan’s regions and am hoping that not only will each dish “transport its diners to an evocative moment shaped over decades and scented by the streets, beaches and countryside of this sprawling diaspora” but there may be a few tips on how to cook them too.
While sharing curries with me in The Noel Arms, Indy promised that the Great Indian Food Feast evenings will definitely be interactive and there’ll be opportunities to be hands-on with food preparation, including desserts. And the Urban Rajah will whisk diners through a collection of personal stories, a short history of Indian food, spice pairing and little known quirky facts and curry miscellany.
Vegetable Pakoras
I’m looking forward to the Chipping Campden Great Indian Food Feast in December, but there will be others around the UK (see here). A percentage of each evening’s funds will be donated to IID supporting education and healthcare projects for children and helping families living in India’s slums and International Justice Mission helping to liberate those trapped in the human trafficking chain.
Ivor and Indy will also be bringing pop-up Indian street food to Chipping Campden as part of the mini-Bite food festivals in October and December; brilliant to think that us spice-hungry Cotswoldians will have some lip tingling, vibrant feasting to look forward to in the winter months!
And if we’re bored of stews and roast root veg by February, the main Bite Food festival (which Indy and Ivor will take part in) will include a mushroom foray at Batsford, artisan Cotswold beer safari ending up at the fab Ebrington Arms, cookery school events at Daylesford, a Sophie Grigson masterclass and a peruvian pop-up restaurant at Bledington. I’m hungry just thinking of it all!
(pics in this post are by Ivor Peters aka Urban Rajah).