Presented by Vikram Vij and Meeru Dhalwala
The idea for the signature dish at Vij’s began when my husband Vikram and I went to a dinner party where the host grilled lamb chops, and everyone was grabbing them and eating them with their hands.
“I want to serve lamb like this at Vij’s.” Vikram said to me. “I want our customers to eat them like popsicles.” I told that lamb curry had to be braised. “You can’t make a lamb popsicle curry,” I protested. But back home the experiments began all the same. Vikram drew on his European training and prepared a French marinade for the lamb. I made a nice curry with cinnamon and cloves and cumin and poured it over his grilled chops. “I can’t serve this – it’s too brown,” he said. “It’s curry – of course it’s brown,” I said. “We’re brown, our food is brown. White people understand that curry is brown!” The argument continued for days. I made four new different curries and Vikram rejected each of them. “He’s an oaf and really has a very simple palate, “ I huffed to one of my cooks. “Just watch – I’m going to just put some garlic in whipping cream and he’ll come back telling me what a great curry I made for his mustardy rack of lamb.” So I did. “Killah! This is killah!” he exclaimed. “People are going to love this!” I said there was no way I would serve it. It wasn’t even Indian. “I’m telling you – white Canadians love whipping cream and garlic. Make it more sophisticated if you want – but keep the cream and garlic.” So I went back to the kitchen and calmly added turmeric and roasted green fenugreek leaves to the curry, turning it dazzling yellow, and giving it earthy Indian flavours that married well with the white wine and mustard. That was fifteen years ago. It’s still on the menu.
– Meeru Dhalwala
- 500 mL (about 2 cups) whipping cream
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- ½ tbsp dried green fenugreek leaves
- ½ tsp ground ancho chilli
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tbsp canola or grapeseed oil
- 1½ tbsp minced garlic
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 kg (about 2 lb) rack of lamb, Frenched and cut into chops
- 2 tbsp sweet white wine
- 90 mL (about ¹⁄³ cup) grainy mustard
- 1 tbsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- Turkish Urfa (or other smoked) pepper flakes
In a large mixing bowl, combine the lamb, wine, mustard, half the salt, and the black pepper. Toss well. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator for two to four hours, turning occasionally. To make the sauce, combine the cream, lemon juice, fenugreek, ancho powder and cayenne in a mixing bowl, and set aside. Heat oil in a saucepan on medium heat, add garlic, and sauté until golden—about three minutes. Lower heat, add turmeric, stir and cook for one minute. Add the cream mixture and stir well. Simmer, stirring frequently, until slightly reduced and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon—about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, bring chops to room temperature on the countertop for about 30 minutes.
Pre-heat grill—or a grill pan—on high.
Toss chops once more to ensure that each one is well coated with the marinade. Then grill for two or three minutes per side—or until they achieve the desired doneness. Arrange chops on a warm platter and allow to rest. Then pour hot curry sauce over the dish—or serve it at centre of the plate, in a dipping bowl. If you choose, sprinkle each chop with a small pinch of Urfa pepper flakes. Serve at once.
Chef-Owners at Vij’s
Filmed at the Monogram® Design Centre & Cooking Studio – Toronto
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