Quite literally. The story goes that the dish can be traced to Alexander the Great – whom Indians call Sikandar.
Sikandar captured the Indian king, Paurava of Takshila, after a tough and bloody battle. Even in defeat, the proud and valorous Paurava, his head held high, asked that he be treated befitting his status as a king. Sikandar, impressed with his adversary, released him, and they became friends. The barbecued whole leg of lamb was the centrepiece of a banquet laid on to celebrate the new friendship of Sikandar and Paurava, and hence the dish became known as Sikandari Raan.
Over time, the Raan has journeyed from being rustic, hearty fare to being a rather exclusive and refined dish enjoyed only in the most costly restaurants. But this felt all wrong to us. Raan shouldn’t just be the preserve of fine dining. We needed to take it back to its roots.
By putting this on our menu – and even more so by putting it in a bun – we wanted to democratise this very special dish and make it much more accessible. It’s a proper feast for every day.
To make the Raan (which literally means “leg”), a whole leg of lamb is rubbed first with a dry marinade of salt and Kashmiri red chilli, and then second with ginger and garlic. It is marinated overnight, then submerged and braised in a juice of whole spices (including star anise, cinnamon and bay leaf) in malt vinegar and slow-cooked for several hours. We skewer the braised meat then grill it over hot coals until it’s nicely roasted (basting as we go, to keep it moist). Finally, it’s pulled off the bone in loose chunks, and the tender meat is dressed with a spices, butter and fresh lime for a final hit of rich juiciness, or juicy richness. Either way, it’s very rich, and very juicy and you’ll mourn a little when you take your final bite.
To make the Lamb Raan Bun, we put a generous pile of Raan into a strong sourdough bun, along with pickles and onions, and serve it with sali crisp-chips and deep fried green chillies. Pick it up with both hands and take a properly big bite. Juices may run down your chin. Then, carefully, take an occasional nibble of the fried chilli to cast a warm glow over the whole meal. Wash it down with our deliciously hoppy Dishoom IPA, from Hackney’s Beavertown Brewery, brewed to stand up to the strong flavours in the meat. And it will totally hit that spot.
We serve the Lamb Raan Bun only at Dishoom Shoreditch. But for the first time ever, we will be serving the Lamb Raan Bun in the wild, outside its natural home – at FEAST. Come and see us as part of this spectacular banquet event on on 7-10 March 2013 at Tobacco Docks in Wapping, and taste it for yourself…
I love to truly understand and appreciate the origins of a dish, and learn how communities have adapted a recipe over time to make that dish unique to them.
We have arrived at a very sad, but inevitable and clear choice. As of now, all Dishooms are now closed to diners.
These past months have brought strangeness and uncertainty for so many of us. Since we shut the doors of our restaurants in March, we haven’t felt like ourselves at all. The very point of Dishoom is to welcome you through our doors and to serve you the most delicious food and drink we can summon up in the warmest possible way.
Crisp and organised, Roda Irani leads her daughter through the narrow gullies of Swadeshi Market. “Come, let us get to the café.”