Amme’s Chops – Punjabi Masala oven cooked chops
This is a recipe from my friend and neighbour. Her mother, Amme, was originally from a Punjabi family who came to India in the partition, among great distress and difficulty. The few things they could bring included their traditions of food. I am privileged to have it passed on to me, over the garden wall. The masala sauce recipe has vinegar in it, which gives a real tang and depth to the flavour as you slow cook the chops. It’s almost a curry/barbeque mixture as it has that sweet and sour background to the tomato and onion sweetness. A truly delicious recipe, and very easy to prepare. You can make the masala sauce ahead of time, then just pour it over the chops as you put them in the oven. You can also freeze the cooked dish and re-heat.
Serves 6 Timings: 1 hour for the sauce, 1 ½ hours cooking – which can be done later
Cook the onions for about 15 minutes in a little oil – you are looking for them to become transparent and start to brown slightly – not so mildly cooked as if you were caramelising them. Add the garlic and ginger and stir to release the aromas.
Put the ground spices in a small glass and add water to make into a paste, mix, then add the paste to the pan. This is to avoid burning dry spices and is a technique I learned in India. Stir and cook.
Add in the vinegar, tomatoes and ketchup. Simmer for about 10 minutes to cook the masala properly. Test the seasoning and add salt. You may need a squeeze of lemon to bring the flavour up. At this stage, you can cool the masala and it will keep in the fridge for 2 days. You can also freeze it.
Pre heat your oven to 190°C.
Brown the chops in a hot pan for a few minutes in a little oil and transfer them to a metal baking tray where you can lay them all down in one layer. Pour the sauce over the chops and cover the tray with kitchen foil, tucking it down well to make a good seal.
Cook in the oven for an hour. Test the chops with the point of a knife – they should be tender. Turn them over to coat them in the sauce, remove the foil from the baking tray and cook at 200°C for another 15 minutes to reduce the sauce. You should end up with a very thick sauce. If you still have quite a liquid sauce - which can depend on the amount of juice the chops release – then keep the chops warm and reduce the sauce on the hob for a few minutes to boil off the extra liquid. The end result should be quite thick and with delicious brown bits where it has started to catch. Add the chops back in and stir to coat them with the tangy meaty sauce.
Serve with roti, rice or Bombay potatoes, and some fresh relishes and chutneys.
A Hug from the Kitchen
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