- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 30, 2005

In the small academic community where we live, Labor Day marks the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year.

Our New England town is suddenly teeming with traffic, college students fill the town common, and, best of all, most of our friends are back after long summer breaks. Anxious to catch up on everyone’s news, we have decided to host a small supper this year during the holiday weekend.

The big porch on the side of our house is where I am planning to serve this casual meal, and I have already chosen the menu.

For the past few weeks, I have been working on a recipe for curried lamb chops with a cucumber-and-mango salad. The meat is rubbed simply with curry powder, coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, then popped on the grill for a few minutes.

The cool, crisp salad is a study in contrasting tastes and textures. Sliced cucumbers, scallions and chopped peanuts provide crunchiness and complement the smoothness of the sliced mangoes. For the Asian-style dressing, lime juice is a nice counterpoint to the sweetness of sugar, while Thai fish sauce introduces a salty note. Chopped fresh ginger root, hot red pepper flakes, and fresh mint add spicy accents.

For side dishes, I have decided on corn on the cob and green beans sauteed with sliced garlic. A plum tart baked early in the day and reheated at serving time will be garnished with scoops of store-bought vanilla ice cream for dessert.

The recipe for the lamb and salad serves four but easily can be doubled (which I am planning to do) or tripled to serve a larger group. The salad can be prepared an hour ahead, leaving only the lamb to look after, 10 minutes or less, at serving time.

Curried lamb chops with cucumber mango salad


3 tablespoons lime juice

3 tablespoons Thai fish sauce (see note)

2 tablespoons sugar

4 teaspoons chopped ginger root

3/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

2 medium cucumbers

1 small ripe but not too soft mango

1 bunch scallions

4 teaspoons chopped mint, plus several sprigs for garnish

1/3 cup roasted peanuts (preferably unsalted), coarsely chopped


Olive or vegetable oil for oiling grill rack

4 teaspoons curry powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 4-ounce rib lamb chops, about 3/4-inch thick and trimmed of excess fat

In a large, nonreactive, bowl whisk together lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, ginger root and pepper flakes. The dressing can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate; bring to room temperature 30 minutes before using and whisk well.

With a vegetable peeler, peel alternating lengthwise strips from the cucumbers. Halve the cucumbers lengthwise and scoop out and discard the seeds.

Cut the cucumbers into 1/4-inch thick slices. Peel the mango.

Then, holding a knife at a right angle, cut 1/4-inch thick slices from the mango. Cut slices into 1-inch pieces.

Cut off and discard root ends and all but 2 inches of the stems of the scallions. Slice scallions on the diagonal into ½-inch long pieces.

Add cucumbers, mangoes, scallions and chopped mint to the bowl with the dressing and toss well to mix. The salad can be prepared 1 hour ahead; leave at cool room temperature.

When ready to cook lamb chops, oil a grill rack and arrange it 4 to 5 inches from heat source. Prepare grill for a hot fire (high temperature). Combine curry powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl and rub both sides of each chop with some of the seasoning.

Grill chops until rosy pink inside, about 3 minutes per side. (Internal temperature should be 145 degrees for medium rare.)

Arrange two chops on each of 4 dinner plates along with some salad. Sprinkle some chopped peanuts on top of each salad and garnish with 1 or 2 mint sprigs.

Makes 4 servings.

Note: Thai fish sauce is available in the Asian food sections of many supermarkets as well as in Asian markets.


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