Dining: spring awakening

When Fat Rice's owners chef Abraham Conlon and general manager Adrienne Lo bring Spring to the tables of their West Diversey restaurant, it's seasoned with their family histories. Conlon traces his to Portugal, via Lowell, Mass.; Chicago-born Lo to China. Stir in their travels to Brazil, India, Macau. Taste the world in a bite of this vindaloo-spiced Spring lamb with roots in Portugal and a stop in Goa with a snapped-from-the-garden rhubarb chutney.

Fat Rice grilled vindaloo spring lamb shoulder chops with spring salad and rhubarb chutney

4 servings

20 dried red chilies

10 each: peppercorns, cloves garlic

1 tablespoon each: ground cinnamon, chopped peeled fresh ginger

1 teaspoon each: turmeric, cumin seeds, garam masala

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon mustard seed

4 cloves

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

3 pounds Spring lamb shoulder, in 3/4-inch chops

Combine spices, ginger, garlic and vinegar in a non-reactive bowl; soak 1 hour. Transfer to blender; add sugar. Puree to a smooth paste. Put lamb chops in a non-reactive dish. Pour puree over meat; coating well. Cover. Refrigerate. Marinate 3 hours or overnight.

Serve: Heat grill. Grill chops until lightly charred and internal temperature measures medium to medium-rare (145 degrees) on a meat thermometer. Dress a serving platter with some chutney. Arrange chops on platter. Top with asparagus, pea and paneer salad.

Rhubarb ginger lime chutney: Chop 3 stalks fresh rhubarb; put in a non-reactive pot. Add 1/2 cup water, juice of 1 lime, 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons chopped ginger. Heat to boil; reduce heat to medium. Cook until rhubarb is tender; stir occasionally. Puree mixture smooth in a blender until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Cool to room temperature.

Asparagus, pea and paneer salad: Peel stems on 1 bunch asparagus; cut in 1-inch pieces. Blanch; shock in ice water. Blanch; shock 1 cup fresh shelled greens peas. Put drained vegetables in a bowl with 1 tablespoon fresh ginger julienne, 1/4 cup each: torn mint leaves, crumbled paneer (a fresh cheese), thinly sliced red spring onion and 1 cup watercress. Juice and zest 1 lemon. Toss with salad, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, season with salt and pepper.


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