Over the past year I have become a HUGE Bollywood fan – and Netflix made me do it! If you have never watched a Bollywood movie, it takes a bit of getting used to but I highly recommend it. Salman Khan, my heart be still! And the women. There is a joyousness in these films, that is sometimes hard-won, but the journey is worth going through 3 hours (or more at times) of all of the ups and downs of the characters. While I began my Bollywood journey with older films, you might want to start with Bajrangi Bhaijaan, the story of a mute Pakistani child lost in India and the Indian man of pure heart who is determined to return her to her family despite the considerable dangers for him involved in crossing the border illegally. My husband cried for at least half of the movie. And for those who might want a bit more of an action film, try Kick. The music and dancing is contagious and while typically silly at times, there is enough action for two Mission Impossible movies as well as a deeper message. And for a smaller movie there is Queen about a young bride-to-be rejected at the alter who goes on a journey of self-discovery and finds her inner strength and independence. Or you could choose a retelling of King Lear in Baghban. I found it refreshing that so many of the films carried a deeper message that promoted family, women’s empowerment, inequality in healthcare and education for poor and orphaned children and the need to tolerate religious divisions in society.
So what does this have to do with food? Well as followers of this blog know, I have always loved Indian food. But now I am even more excited about making it at home. So I have been going through my cookbooks and online to search out the best Indian meals to make at home. (And I have been buying up Indian jewelry on eBay and watching online videos to watch how Kareena Kapoor applies kohl to her eyes…) This meal comes partly from a cookbook by the film director Ismail Merchant, famous for movies like Remains of the Day, Howards End and my personal favorite, A Room With a View. Apparently he enjoyed cooking for cast members and friends and this cookbook was a by-product. Since I generally search out several versions of a recipe before attempting it for the first time, I ended up going with a different version for the lamb that I found online. However, at Merchant’s suggestion, I served it with a Bismati Pullao (Pilaf) (See recipe which follows.)
Spiced Kashmiri Lamb (Kashmiri Gosht) from Mallika Basu and Bismati Pullao from Ismail Merchant’s Indian Cuisine
Yield: 4-8 servings, depending on how many sides or other dishes you are serving
6 Tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil
2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cubed
2 large onions
8 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed through a garlic press or minced
2 bay leaves
3 black cardamom pods (I only had green pods so used those)
2-inch cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon ground coriander
1-inch ginger, peeled and crushed or grated or 1 Tablespoon fresh, ground ginger that you buy in a jar
2 large tomatoes
1 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1 teaspoon paprika or Kashmiri chili powder
1 teaspoon hot chili powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
Salt to taste
Handful fresh coriander (cilantro)
- Peel and slice the onions finely.
- Next, bring the oil to medium heat in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan. When it is hot, toss in the whole spices, and as they sizzle up, add the sliced onions with a pinch of salt and sauté for about 15 minutes until golden. If the onions start getting stuck to the bottom of the pan, add a little hot water and scrape off.
- Then, mix in the ginger and garlic and cook for another minute. Roughly chop the tomatoes and toss them in. Cook this masala paste for about five minutes, stirring regularly. When the tomatoes start to disintegrate, mix in the coriander, fenugreek, paprika (or Kashmiri chili) and chili powder. Add half a cup of hot water and keep stirring. As the water cooks off, lower the heat to a simmer, add another cup of hot water and cook for another five minutes.
- At this point you will see oil oozing out of little pores in the paste. Bring the heat to medium high again, and stir in your lamb chunks. Mix the paste into the meat well, browning it for a good five minutes until it’s well coated. Then add enough hot water to cover the lamb pieces, cover and cook for half an hour then take the lid off and cook for another half an hour uncovered.
- Stir in salt and garam masala to finish, simmering for the last 10 minutes until you have a rich, dark, moist lamb curry. Garnish your Kashmiri Gosht with chopped fresh coriander if using and serve hot, with Basmati rice and a thick dal of your favorite lentil.