It was the opportunity of a lifetime for Vikram Vij when he was given the opportunity to cook for Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, née Kate Middleton, in Okanagan Valley. Ahead of the couple's visit to the Taste of British Columbia food festival, the India-born Canadian chef worked hard to come up with the ideal dish, from his choice of meat to the level of spice.
At their April 2011 wedding, William and Kate famously dined on a saddle of organic lamb, and so Vikram chose a popular lamb dish from his Vij Restaurant in Vancouver – Wine-Marinated Lamb Popsicles in Fenugreek Cream Curry, which he renamed 'Maharajah's Lamb Popsicles' for the purpose of their visit.
William and Kate were clearly impressed. As they approached Vikram's stand, they warmly greeted him with the traditional Indian welcome 'Namaste', before taking the time to discuss the dish with the chef.
The Prince – who is not a big fan of spicy food – complemented Vikram on his "perfect" spice level, as the trio talked about the importance of sourcing and using local produce. At the end of their chat, Vikram then presented enthusiastic cook Kate with a copy of his latest book, Vij's Indian, saying that he hoped she would try out some of the recipes when she gets home.
The couple's appearance at the food festival comes just a few months after William playfully joked about Kate's cooking while attending at a charity gala. Kate suggested that her husband was looking forward to a break from her cooking as they stepped out together for the event in June, telling the chefs: "William has to put up with my cooking most of the time." The Duke then chimed in, joking: "It's the reason I'm so skinny!"
Meanwhile, ahead of their trip to India and Bhutan earlier this year, Kate revealed that while she is a fan of spicy food, her husband "struggles" with spices.
MARINATED LAMB POPSICLES WITH FENUGREEK CREAM CURRY
- ¼ cup sweet white wine
- ¾ cup grainy yellow mustard
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 4 lbs French-cut racks of lamb, in chops
- 4 cups whipping cream
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp paprika
- ½ tsp ground cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp dried green fenugreek leaves
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 3 to 4 tbsp canola oil
- 3 tbsp finely chopped garlic
- 1 tsp turmeric
- LAMB. Combine wine, mustard, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add lamb and coat well with the marinade. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.
- CURRY SAUCE. In a large bowl, combine cream, salt, paprika, cayenne, fenugreek leaves and lemon juice. Heat 3 to 4 Tbsp of the oil in a medium pot on medium heat and sauté garlic until golden. Stir in turmeric and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the cream mixture and cook on low to medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until it is gently boiling.
- FINISH LAMB. Preheat a stove-top cast iron grill or barbeque to high heat. Place lamb on the grill and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side.
- TO SERVE. Serve popsicles piping hot off the grill. Depending on their size, place 4 to 5 lamb popsicles on each plate. Pour the cream curry over the meat or ladle it into a small bowl and use it as a dipping sauce for the popsicles.
- WINE. We love the Schloss Gobelsburg Gruner Veltliner, which we always keep on our wine list.