Kwik Meal's signature dish is lamb, as opposed to the more typical chicken, marinated in yogurt, mashed green papaya, and a few choice spices. Served over rice with white sauce and hot sauce (Penfold and Wallace suggest cooking down spicy salsa verde for 10 minutes or so to replicate the hot sauce), this lamb is relatively mild in spice yet super tender, with a nice balance of acidity to rich meat.
Why I picked this recipe: Not being a New Yorker, I'd never experienced halal cart meat with white sauce and hot sauce before. I figured I needed to fix that, stat.
What worked: The two-step cooking process worked great; the lamb was indeed tender inside with a crisp exterior. Yogurt and green papaya in the marinade lent welcome acidity to the rich, gamey meat.
What didn't: I wasn't totally sure how to mash a green papaya, so I chopped it into smallish bits and muddled it around in my mortar and pestle until it got a little broken up. I imagine a food processor would do a better job.
Suggested tweaks: The lamb makes a good entree over rice as well as stuffed into pita. If you can't find green papaya, you could try using pineapple instead. (It contains a different chemical with similar tenderizing properties.)
Reprinted with permission from New York a la Cart: Recipes and Stories from the Big Apple's Best Food Trucks by Alexandra Penfold and Siobhan Wallace. Copyright 2013. Published by Running Press, an imprint of The Perseus Books Group. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- 1 pound boneless lamb shoulder roast, trimmed and cubed
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon toasted and ground coriander
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 1/4 cup green papaya, mashed
- 1 teaspoon canola oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- White Sauce, for serving
- Hot Sauce, for serving (see above)
In a large nonreactive bowl mix everything together, coating lamb well. Place in a plastic bag or cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let marinate overnight in fridge.
When you’re ready to cook lamb, preheat your oven to 325°F (160°C). Place all of lamb onto a foil-covered baking sheet and place in oven for about 15 minutes. While lamb is roasting, heat a skillet or cast iron pan over high heat. Once lamb has released its juices, and internal temperature reaches 135°F (57°C), take out lamb and place in hot pan for a quick sear, about 5 minutes on each side. When finished, lamb will have a good char, yet still be tender.