(South African curry-marinated lamb and apricot kebabs)
Sweet and sour with the subtle spice of curry, sosaties are one of the great braai (barbecue) foods of South Africa and a hallmark of Cape Malay cuisine. This recipe for lamb kebabs was brought to the country by Malaysian laborers.
Start the recipe mid-week for a weekend braai; the meat should marinate 3 days for best flavor.
4 to 6 servings
- Lamb or mutton, cut into cubes -- 3 pounds
- Dried apricots -- 1 1/2 cups
- Oil -- 3 tablespoons
- Onions, chopped -- 2
- Garlic, crushed -- 2 or 3 cloves
- Curry powder -- 1 tablespoon
- Vinegar -- 3/4 cup
- Water or red or white wine -- 3/4 cup
- Apricot jam or tamarind paste -- 2 tablespoons
- Brown sugar -- 2 tablespoons
- Bay leaves -- 2
- Salt and pepper -- to taste
- Wooden or bamboo skewers
- Heat the oil in a large saute pan or skillet over medium flame. Add the onions and saute until translucent, 3 or 4 minutes. Add the garlic and curry powder and saute for another minute or so.
- Add the vinegar, water or wine, jam or tamarind paste, brown sugar and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until lightly thickened, 5 or 6 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Place the lamb and apricots in a large, non-reactive bowl. Pour the cooked marinade over the lamb and apricots and toss thoroughly to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least one day, preferably up to 3 days.
- Prepare your grill. Remove the lamb cubes and apricots from the marinade and thread on skewers that have been soaked in water. Alternate between chunks of lamb and the apricots.
- Grill the skewers on a hot grill, turning to cook on all sides. Cook for about 8 minutes for medium-rare and up to 15 minutes for well-done (the more commonly preferred doneness in South Africa).
- While the skewers are grilling, bring the marinade to a boil in a saucepan and simmer for 3 or 4 minutes. Serve hot in a bowl as a sauce for the sosaties along with sides of pap or geelrys.
- Meats: Lamb or mutton are traditional. Chunks of sheeptail fat were originally included on the skewers to baste the meat and keep it most. These days pork fat, salt pork or fatty bacon are more common. It is also common to replace up to a third of the lamb with pork. This, of course, goes against the recipe's origins in Muslim Malaysia. Beef could certainly replace the lamb, but no self-respecting South African would take that route. Chicken works very well too, but the result would properly be called kebabs, not sosaties.
- Spices and Flavorings: Vary the flavor of the curry marinade with any number of additions or variations. Try adding raisins or minced fresh ginger. Curry or lemon leaves can replace the bay leaves. Add a little ground coriander, cumin or turmeric along with the curry powder. Bump up the heat with a big pinch of ground chile powder or chile flakes.
- Vegetables: Marinate small onions and chunks of bell peppers with the meat and impale on their own skewers for an easy vegetable accompaniment to your sosaties.