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Classic British dishes updated for the modern American cook.

British Bites: Lamb Phall

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[Photograph: Sydney Oland]

Those familiar with this Anglo-Indian curry dish will immediately associate it with heat. Phall is widely touted as the hottest of the British curries, although its actual connection to India is limited at best. This tomato-based curry should not be confused with a grilled finger food that bares the same name from Bangalore. The battle for the hottest phall rages throughout many Indian restaurants in Britian, but if you happen to be in London a good place to start your search would be along Brick Lane.

Heat is an absolute essential element of phall, but the trick to a really good one is having a base of spice that supports the heat. Many recipes call for just some well-toasted curry powder, but I like to take it a bit further by adding cumin, garam masala and turmeric as well. Then come the chilies.

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To me, using a combination of whole fresh and dried chilies as well as cayenne powder and crushed chili flakes makes an ideal combination, allowing you to get through the first few spoonfuls before the different waves of heat hit your mouth. If you are a serious spice junkie, don't seed the scotch bonnet, just quarter it and throw it in. And as always, please be careful when handling hot chilies—if available, a pair of latex gloves can be a strong ally during preparation.

Make sure you have a lot of beer on hand to drink alongside this phall; a few sprigs of cilantro and a raita would also complement the heat of this dish, but the beer is essential.

About the author: Sydney Oland lives in Somerville, Mass. Find more information at sydneyoland.com (or read eatingnosetotail.com)

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