When it comes to Indian starters, there is nothing nicer than being served with a plate piled high with sizzling Pakistani style lamb chops. They are packed with flavour, juicy and will leave you with bright red fingers (if you eat them right) and a craving for more. People often struggle to make an authentic Pakistani lamb chop recipe, but today, my friends, you are in luck! This recipe is truly authentic. It was kindly sent to me by my friends at East at Home. Here's what you need to know.Don't let the list of ingredients put you off. This Pakistani lamb chop recipe is well worth it. Sometimes you've got to put in a little effort to get it right. Why not save time and make a large batch of 'lamb chop' powder, then it will be even easier. I've got plenty of good ideas elsewhere on my site. Here are a few suggestions for making your own ready-made .
What Are Pakistani Lamb Chops?
You'll hear Pakistani lamb chops referred to by several names, depending on your location and the recipe or menu. They are also called: -
- Tandoori lamb chops
- Peshwari lamb chops
- Tikka Chops
- Masala lamb chops
- And occasionally lamb shashlik (which isn't actually correct).
The good news is that aside from subtle variations in the spices used, they are all pretty much the same dish.
Pakistani lamb chops are a starter found in most Indian restaurants and takeaways and are a firm favourite on the menu.
The chops are marinated for several hours in a mix of herbs and spices (called a masala). Over time these soak into the meat, imparting tons of flavour. They are then roasted in a tandoor over extremely high heat. This technique sears the outside of the meat, giving it a slight smoky barbecue taste, and also seals the meat juicy within, making your meat tender and really succulent.
To get an authentic result, you will want to do it like the authentic takeaway chefs do.
You'll find quite a few tips and tricks to get a perfect result, along with the recipe below.
One thing you simply must get right is the type of meat you use.
Here's all you need to know about Pakistani lamb chops and how to make the recipe
What Do Pakistani Lamb Chops Taste Like?
Pakistani lamb chops are, quite simply, delicious.
Because they are marinated for a long time, all of the flavours soak into the meat. You'll find hints of garlic and ginger, undercut with a smoky savouriness of spices like paprika and cumin. If they are cooked right, they tend to be really succulent.
Because masala lamb chops are traditionally cooked in a tandoor, they also take on a sort of barbecue flavour. The fat crisps up when cooked over high heat and can even go a little black (these are the best bits).
If they are authentic, they are normally bright red in colour. This colour is imparted by a few spices, including tandoori masala, paprika and bright red Kashmiri powder.
Tandoori lamb chops are traditionally served as a dry dish. Still, some places offer you the option of adding a sauce (I tend to avoid this as it is impossible to eat them without making a real mess).
Are Pakistani Lamb Chops Spicy?
Pakistani lamb chops are not traditionally known to be spicy. If 1 was really mild and 10 was blisteringly hot, I'd put them somewhere in the region of a '3. They contain a little Kashmiri chilli powder, but this is more for the vibrant red colour than heat. The recipe also features a little green chilli.
When you consider how small the amount of chilli is considering the volume of the marinade, you have nothing to worry about, even if you are a little 'spice averse'.
However, the chilli only features as part of the marinade. It is tempered significantly by the inclusion of plenty of yoghurt too. If you've read my article on cooling down spicy food, you'll already know that dairy works well to remove heat.
What Are the Different Types of Lamb Chops?
Think all lamb chops are the same?
Think again. The meat you use will dramatically affect how your Pakistani lamb chop recipe turns out.
Here are the different types of chops that are available and which you could ideally use in your recipe.
Barnsley chops are actually pretty big, and aren't ideally suited for a starter. Barnsley chops come from the animal's loin, between the rib cage and the rear leg, or the 'waist' if you will. They are a cut of the cross-section of the upper back of the lamb with a large circular bone running through the middle.
You'll rarely find Barnsley chops used in a Pakistani lamb chop recipe.
The good things about Barnsley chops are…
- They are pretty substantial
- Barnsley chops have a high-fat content
- You get quite a lot of meat in each chop
The not so good things about Barnsley chops are…
- They aren't really authentic in an Indian recipe
- They aren't cheap
- They aren't low on calories
Cutlets, on the other hand, are quite common in Indian restaurants. They are characterised by a long thin bone (normally visible if the chop has been 'Frenched' (which is a fancy word for trimmed).
The little bones in lamb cutlets are actually ribs, with most of the meat being found only on one side of the bone. The good thing about lamb cutlets is that they aren't too big, so they won't fill you up, and they cook really quickly, ensuring that your chops are tender and juicy.
Lamb cutlets are also known by a few different names. These can include: -
- Rib chops
- Rack Chops
- Lamb Lollipops
- Crown Chops
The good things about lamb cutlets are…
- They are really authentic
- They are thin and cook quickly
- They have relatively little fat compared to other chops
- Because of the single bone, they are easy to eat
The not so good things about lamb cutlets are…
- You'll need to make a few if you are hungry
- They aren't the cheapest cut of lamb.
- They can be hard to find in supermarkets
Loin chops are the type you normally see in the supermarket. They can and often are used to make Pakistani style lamb chops.
They are characterised by a large 'T' shaped bone in the bottom centre of the chop. They normally have a thick piece of fat running along the side before tapering towards the top.
Because of the high-fat content, loin chops are packed full of flavour, and as they sizzle away, they are sort of self-basting.
The good things about Loin chops are…
- They are easy to source
- They are thick and juicy with high-fat content
- They are often used in Pakistani style chop recipes
The not so good things about loin chops are…
- Depending on the cut, there can be more bone and fat than meat
- They are a bit tricky to eat
- They take longer to cook
How do You Tenderise Mutton Chops?
Ok, I will let you into a little secret now that you won't find elsewhere.
Tandoori lamb chops do have a secret ingredient that ensures the meat stays soft and tender during the cooking process. Many Indian restaurants will use something called 'meat tenderising powder', which is part of the marinade.
If you haven't ever heard of it before, don't worry, you aren't alone.
The good news is, it is actually really easy to get hold of. In fact, you can find meat tenderising powder here for not a lot at all.
You can use a few other techniques instead of meat tenderising powder. Why not try:-
- Adding an acid – Lemon juice and buttermilk both work really well as meat tenderisers. Try adding a little of either in with your marinade.
- Tenderising with a meat hammer – As with all meats, a bash with a meat hammer softens the protein fibres within the meat, making them a little juicier.
- Cooking for a shorter time – You'll read all sorts of recipes talking about slow cooking and whatnot. In truth, it is nonsense. This isn't how authentic Indian restaurants do it, and neither should you! Instead, whack up the heat and cook your chops quickly for the best results.
Right enough chat, let's talk you through how to make Pakistani lamb chops…
How Do You Make Pakistani Lamb Chops?
Making tandoori lamb chops is actually a three-stage process.
Wait, three stages.
The first stage is marinating the chops in a simple mix of garlic and ginger, along with a little oil, a splash of lemon juice and some meat tenderising powder. This is a pretty quick process and can be completed in under an hour.
This mix will infuse the meat with a lovely herby taste, and the lemon juice and tenderising powder will soften up your chops. This increases tenderness and allows the meat to soak up other flavours.
Speaking of which…
So, you've marinated your Pakistani chops. What's next?
Well, we then go through a second marinating phase. There are a fair few ingredients, but as long as you are organised with your spices, this shouldn't be too much of a hassle.
We use yoghurt as a base for the marinade. To it, we add plenty of Asian spices, including cumin, coriander powder, Kashmiri chilli powder, more lemon juice, garam masala and even a little bit of chilli!
Once this is mixed, we slather the chops in it and leave them resting for at least an hour in the fridge (I'd actually recommend leaving them overnight for the best result).
The third and final stage is to cook the chops.
Now, you've got four options when it comes to making these. All will work, but some produce a more authentic taste than others. In order of the most authentic to the least, it looks something like this: -
- Cook your chops in a tandoor oven
- Cook the chops on the barbecue
- Whack them in the grill
- Give them a blast in a red-hot oven
However, there is a way to make your chops taste all smoky, even if you opt for option 3 or 4. I'll share it in the tips and tricks section below.
From there, it is just a case of plating up and digging in. I normally serve mine with a tiny bit of side salad (does anyone actually eat that in Indian restaurants?) and a slice of lemon.
For a really authentic presentation, you might want to consider serving your chops on a sizzling platter. They are pretty cheap. You can find quite a few sizzling platter ideas here. If you go down this route, reduce the cooking time by a minute, as the chops will continue to cook when added to the sizzler.
Here's a quick video on how to use one
Pakistani Lamb Chops | Tips and Tricks
You don't just want good. You want perfect. Here are some top tips to ensure your Pakistani lamb chops are a real success.
How to give home-cooked Pakistani lamb chops an authentic smoky taste
- Ok, here is a top tip that was shared with me recently. Just because you haven't got a tandoor or barbecue doesn't mean you need to miss out on flavour. Here's what to do…
- Make a bowl out of some tin foil. Light a piece of charcoal and allow it to burn down until it is glowing.
- Add the glowing coal to your tin foil bowl.
- Place the bowl on top of your lamb chops, then add a little knob of ghee or butter so that it smokes (be sure to put the extractor fan on, and mind your worktops). Cover the entire lot with another large sheet of foil, and allow to rest for about 5 minutes until the smoke infuses the meat.
Find a Good Butcher
Sure, you can use supermarket bought chops, but I find that the meat from the butchers is of far superior quality. It is well worth a trip, plus the butcher can trim your chops to look exactly like they do in Indian restaurants.
Go Thinner on Your Chops
Remember, this is supposed to be a starter. If you are hosting an Indian dinner party, the last thing you want to do is fill your guests up before the main course.
Oh, and you'll find that thinner chops cook quicker, meaning they stay juicy.
Marinading, The Longer, The Better
As I said above, you can just about get away with marinating your chops for a couple of hours, but it is far better to leave them overnight if you have the time. It's a well-known fact that spicy food tastes better the next day if left to rest
Meat Tenderizing Powder is Key
If I was going to nominate a single ingredient that will transform your chops, meat tenderising powder is it. Your Pakistani lamb chops won't be a disaster without them, but this is the key to getting them nice and juicy!
Don't Overcook Your Chops
Quick-cooking is vital with lamb. If you overdo it, they will go all dry. Aim to go to the lower end of the time scale. Remember, you can always cook them for a few more minutes if they aren't done enough, but you can't uncook them!
Use a Tandoor for the Best Results
Indian restaurants will often use a tandoor for cooking their chops. This is where they get their smoky taste.
Haven't got a tandoor?
What would you say if I told you it is pretty easy to make a tandoor oven at home?
Tandoori Lamb Chops | FAQ
Still, got questions? No worries. Here are some things that I get asked all the time.
How Does Meat Tenderizing Powder Work?
In fact, you've probably had bromelain before…
If you've ever eaten pineapple and noticed that your mouth is sore afterwards, this is because fruits like pineapple or papaya are both high in this enzyme!
Which Chops are The Best for Tandoori?
If I was choosing for myself, I'd go for cutlets as my first option and possibly loin lamb chops as a close second for making the best tandoori chops. Both are easy to find, cook relatively quickly, and have decent meat on the bone without being too over facing.
How Do You Cook Tandoori Lamb Chops?
The best way to cook tandoori lamb chops is in an authentic tandoor oven. Cooking them on the barbecue comes as a very close second (either gas or coal-fired). Using your grill is a good option, and if you want to go really lazy, then roasting them in the oven is another easy way to get a good result.
Why Are my Lamb Chops Tough?
The only reason lamb chops are tough is because you have overcooked them. Here are some top tips to preventing tough chops: -
- Cook using high heat.
- Avoid starting cooking your chops from cold
- Allow your chops to rest for a couple of minutes after cooking
- Use a tenderising agent, such as powder, lemon juice or both
- Avoid cooking your chops for too long
How Long Should You Marinate Tandoori Lamb Chops for?
This Pakistani chop recipe allows for two one-hour blocks of marinating for a good result. Suppose you want a stronger flavour or your chops to taste a little more authentic. In that case, I'd recommend leaving them in the fridge overnight after the second marinade has been added. That way, the flavours get plenty of opportunities to mingle and soak into the meat.
Can You Eat Lamb Pink?
You definitely can, in fact, it is many peoples preferred choice. The only caveat is that, according to the British National Health Service, the meat must be cooked on the outside. Provided you follow my guidelines above, you'll be assured of a good and safe result.
Pakistani Lamb Chops | Final Thoughts.