Bismati Pullao

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This Bismati pilaf would be a delicious accompaniment to many Indian meals or a side for grilled meat or fish. I used it to accompany Kashmiri Spiced Lamb (See previous recipe).

Bismati Pullao from Ismail Merchant’s Indian Cuisine

Yield: 4-6 servings (Can be doubled)

Ingredients

1.5 cups Basmati rice

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped

2-inch piece of cinnamon stick

4 whole cloves

1 bay leaf, crumbled

1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads

1/2 cup raw cashews (or pistachios)

1/2 cup seedless golden raisins

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

Directions

  1. Soak the rice in cold water to cover for about 30 minutes. Then drain well through a sieve.
  2. Heat the oil or ghee in a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Add the onions and saute until the onion becomes translucent and softens. Add the well-drained rice, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf, saffron, cashews and raisins and stir for 2 minutes, coating everything with the onions and oil or ghee.  IMG_3567
  3. Add 3 cups of cold water to the pot along with the salt. Bring to a boil, cover tightly and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the rice is tender and fluffy and all of the water is absorbed. (The cooking time will depend on the brand of rice and how long it soaked prior to cooking.) Stir through with a fork and serve.

 

 

Spiced Kashmiri Lamb (Kashmiri Gosht) and Bismati Pullao (Pilaf)

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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

Ingredients

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)

Directions

  1. Peel and slice the onions finely.
  2. 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. IMG_3569
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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. IMG_3583

 

 

Cauliflower and Peas (Ghobi Aur Matar)

Cauliflower and Edamame

I served this dish as a side to my Goan chicken (See previous recipe), but it would also be delicious over rice as part of a vegetarian or vegan meal. While it is traditionally made with peas, the fresh edamame looked so good at the store that I used them instead. This recipe came from a wonderful vegetarian Hindu cookbook that I have had for years called the Flavors of India.

Cauliflower and Peas (Ghobi Aur Matar) from the Flavors of India by Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff

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Ingredients

1 large cauliflower

4 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

Kosher salt to taste

2 cups fresh or frozen, defrosted peas or edamame

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1/3 cup of water

Juice of 1/2 large lemon

Directions

  1. Separate the cauliflower into smallish florets.
  2. In a frying pan or wok, place the cumin and mustard seeds in the oil over a moderate flame. When the seeds have all started to pop, add the cauliflower, turmeric and salt. IMG_3424
  3. Saute for about 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and cook covered for 3-5 minutes more. IMG_3428
  4. Uncover the pan and add the peas or edamame and the remaining spices. Mix well. Add the water, cover and cook for about 5-10 minutes more, depending on how tender you like your cauliflower. I tend to like my vegetables firm.
  5. Add the lemon juice, mix through and serve.

Goan-Style Chicken Moelho

Goan Chicken

Knowing how much I enjoy Indian food, Frances and Matthew sent me At Home with Madhur Jaffrey as a present last year. I have made several dishes from this cookbook and they have all been delicious and easy to follow, clearly written for the home cook. See Salmon in a Bengali Mustard Sauce for another recipe.

Goa is on the western coast of the Indian Peninsula and is, therefore, known for its seafood. However, meat and chicken dishes also abound. Its cuisine is heavy in Portuguese influences since it was a Portuguese colony for about 400 years. It was the Portuguese who introduced chilies to India in the late 15th century. Goan cuisine makes use of garlic, vinegar and hot chilies, all of which help preserve food and were part of the Portuguese culinary tradition. I served this chicken dish with a simple Basmati rice, cauliflower and peas (Ghobi Aur Matar) although I substituted edamame for the peas (See recipe which follows) and a cooling yogurt relish with cucumber, mint, garlic and dill. It sounds complicated by I was able to do the prep earlier in the day in under an hour and the actual cooking took about 30 minutes for everything. While not difficult, the key to the flavor lies in the spices. While I do buy pre-ground spices and even some spice mixes, there is definitely something to be said for grinding your own. With a small electric coffee grinder (which I actually never use for coffee) it takes just seconds to have freshly ground spices.

Goan-Style Chicken Moelho from At Home with Madhur Jaffrey

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

Rounded 1.5 teaspoons whole cumin seeds

Rounded 1 teaspoon whole brown or black mustard seeds

1.75 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch pieces

3/4 – 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 rounded teaspoons of a sweet paprika (unless you like things really hot, in which case you could add hot paprika)

3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

1.25 teaspoons Kosher salt

2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar (I actually used apple cider vinegar)

4 large garlic cloves, crushed

3 Tablespoons Canola or Grapeseed oil

1 large onion, peeled, cut in half and then sliced into thin half-moons

1/2 cup water

Chopped cilantro for garnish

Directions

  1. Put the cumin and mustard seed into the container of a coffee grinder and grind finely.
  2. Place the chicken pieces in a non-reactive bowl or freezer bag along with the cumin-mustard seed mixture, cayenne, paprika, turmeric, salt, 1 Tablespoon of vinegar and the garlic. If using a plastic bag, as I did, seal the bag and then mush things around to coat all of the chicken pieces. Otherwise, use your hands to coat the chicken. This should be done at least 1 hour ahead, but can be done up to a day ahead. Refrigerate.
  3. When ready to eat, place the oil in a heavy-duty frying pan (I love my Lodge cast-iron) and set over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and fry until the onions begin to brown – about 8 minutes. IMG_3421
  4. Add the marinated chicken and cook until the chicken turns opaque and begins to brown. Add the 1/2 cup of water mixed with the 1 Tablespoon of vinegar. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook gently for another 5 minutes. Goan Chicken2Serve with your favorite rice – traditionally it is red rice, but I used plain Basmati, a vegetable and chutney or cooling yogurt relish. Garnish with cilantro. Yogurt relish2

Bene Israel Fish Curry with Fresh Ginger, Tamarind and Cilantro

I mentioned in an earlier post that I made this dish for the Shabbat meal during Passover. Unfortunately, we did not take any photos. However, this is so delicious, I want to share it with you anyway. And to be perfectly honest, it does not make the most spectacular visual presentation, but the taste is amazing and even picky eaters enjoyed it. I saw the recipe  in the Washington Post just before the holiday and because Frances and her sister were also observing Lent, I knew that I needed to make fish as my main course. Since we also wanted to observe the laws of Kashrut where we didn’t mix milk with meat, this opened the door for me to make my Parsley Soup as a starter and to allow dairy in some of my appetizers.

The story of the Bene Israel is an interesting one and I encourage you to read about them. The community, mostly residing in Mumbai, is small, but their food traditions are definitely worth exploring. Some people believe that they are one of the Lost Tribes of Israel.

The only ingredients that you might have to spend a bit of time searching out are tamarind paste and fresh curry leaves. They are both available online and at any good Indian grocery store. Curry leaves have no good substitute and are not the same as curry powder. I bought mine through Amazon and froze what I didn’t use. Since this dish was so popular, I feel confident that I will make use of them in the future. All this dish needed was Basmati rice and some chutneys to accompany it.

Bene Israel Fish Curry with Fresh Ginger, Tamarind and Cilantro from Joan Nathan

Yield: 6 servings (I made enough for 12 people, using 4.5 pounds net of fish – after skinning and boning)

Ingredients

2 pounds whiting, black sea bass or other firm, light-fleshed skinned fillets, cut into 4 ounce chunks (I used halibut)

1/2 teaspoon salt, or more as needed

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon chili powder (I like the one I get from Rancho Gordo)

Juice of 1 lime

3 large cloves garlic

1-inch piece peeled ginger root, coarsely chopped (I would use about 1 Tablespoon of finely chopped or pureed fresh ginger)

1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems

2 or 3 small green chiles, such as serrano, stemmed and seeded if you want less heat (I used jalapeno. Here is where you can control the heat to your personal tastes)

3 fresh/frozen curry leaves

1 Tablespoon tamarind paste

1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used Grapeseed oil)

1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)

2 vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into small dice (I used grape tomatoes cut in half – for this amount of fish, I would probably use 1/2 pint, but being exact isn’t that important)

1/2 cup water

Directions

 

  1. Place the fish in a nonreactive bowl or container. Sprinkle with the 1/2 teaspoon salt, turmeric, chili powder and lime juice. Gently toss to coat, then cover and refrigerate for no more than a few hours, but at least 2 hours.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the garlic, ginger, cilantro, green chilies (to taste), curry leaves, and tamarind paste in a food processor or blender. Puree to form a paste; transfer to a bowl. It is not the prettiest color but don’t be put off by that!
  3. Line a plate with a few layers of paper towels. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the fish (working in batches, as needed). Cook for about 2 minutes per side until golden. Use a slotted spatula to transfer the fish to the lined plate. Be gentle with the fish so you don’t break up the pieces.
  4. Wipe out the skillet, then add the remaining tablespoon of oil and heat over medium heat. Add the onion and tomatoes; cook for 5 to 8 minutes until the onion has softened, then stir in the garlic-tamarind paste. Add the water and stir through. Reduce the heat to medium-low; return the fish to the skillet and gently stir to incorporate, trying not to break up the fish pieces.
  5. Once the mixture has warmed through, the fish curry is ready to serve.

Ground Lamb with Potatoes and Yogurt Relish

img_2326It doesn’t take much to put me in the mood for Indian food. These recipes come from At Home with Madhur Jaffrey, which Frances and Matthew sent me as a gift this past year. I like that the recipes are accessible to the home cook and yet filled with wonderful flavor. Madhur Jaffrey serves this dish with a moong dal, which I have blogged about in an earlier post. She calls this her family’s soul food. It isn’t the most visually spectacular dish, but the fragrance and flavors make it well-worth the effort. Somewhat amazingly – even to me – I only needed to buy yogurt and fresh spinach to make these three dishes.

Ground Lamb with Potatoes by Madhur Jaffrey and tweaked by me

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

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Ingredients

3 Tablespoons canola oil or EVOO

Two 3-inch cinnamon sticks

1 medium onion finely chopped and 1 shallot

1 teaspoon finely grated, peeled fresh ginger

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 pounds ground lamb

3 Tablespoons plain yogurt (I used 2% Greek yogurt)

3 Tablespoons tomato puree plus 1 teaspoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

1.75 teaspoons Kosher salt

3-4 medium boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes (I used Yukon Gold)

Directions

  1. Pour the oil into a large, heavy frying pan (I like cast iron) and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the cinnamon sticks and allow them to sizzle for 10 seconds.
  2. Add the onions and stir fry until they begin to brown at the edges. Then add the ginger and garlic and stir for one more minute.
  3. Add the lamb, stirring to break up any clumps and cook until all redness disappears.
  4. Add the yogurt, tomato puree, cumin, coriander, cayenne and turmeric and stir for one minute.
  5. Add the salt, potatoes and 1.25 cups of water. (This amount of water was cut from the original 2 cups and still yielded more liquid than I felt was necessary.) Stir and bring to a boil. Cover the pan, turn the heat to low and cook gently for 30 minutes.

Yogurt Relish with Spinach

Yield: 4 servingsyogurt-relish

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons canola oil or EVOO

1/4 teaspoon whole brown or yellow mustard seeds

1/2 clove garlic, sliced thinly

5 ounces baby spinach leaves (If you are not using baby spinach, you will  need to remove the stems.)

Kosher salt to taste

1 cup plain yogurt (I used 2% Greek yogurt)

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste

Directions

  1. Pour the oil into a small frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, add the mustard seeds and as soon as they start to pop (a matter of seconds), add the garlic. Cook, stirring for a few seconds.
  2. Add the spinach and stir for about 5 minutes or until the spinach is cooked through. Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and mix it through. After the spinach has cooled, I coarsely chopped it.
  3. Put the yogurt into a bowl and whisk lightly with a fork until creamy. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and the cayenne, stirring to mix.
  4. Just before eating, fold the entire contents of the frying pan into the yogurt.

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Salmon in Bengali Mustard Sauce

Salmon with Mustard SauceFrances and Matthew bought me Madhur Jaffrey’s cookbook, At Home With Madhur Jaffrey, as part of my most recent birthday present. They were both visiting this weekend for a friend’s wedding and tonight is my one night to feed them since they were at parties the rest of the time. It’s very hot today so I thought something a bit spicy would be nice. Normally I believe that if you have really good fish, you don’t hide it under a lot of sauce. However, tonight I’m trying this salmon recipe and was able to buy some lovely, fatty (those great Omega 3’s) King Salmon today  which is so flavorful that it should stand up to this sauce. We will have this along with Jaffrey’s  Moong Dal, Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash with Cumin and Brown Basmati rice recipes. I thought a fruity, but crisp rose would go well and made my blueberry almond struesel cake for dessert.  Other than changing the serving sizes, I am really not changing much of anything. Maybe when I am more comfortable making these recipes, I will take to tweaking them.

Salmon in Bengali Mustard Sauce

Yield: 4 to 6 Servings

Ingredients

For Fish Rub

2 pounds (net) of a fatty salmon, skinned, boned and cut into 8 pieces

1/2 teaspoon Kosher or Sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For Cooking

2 Tablespoons ground mustard (I like Coleman’s)

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon Kosher or Sea salt

2 Tablespoons EVOO

1/2 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

2 fresh hot green or red chilies, slit slightly

Directions

  1. Place the rub spices in a freezer bag and shake to mix. Add the fish pieces, seal the bag well and gently toss to mix. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes but up to 10 hours.
  2. Put the mustard powder, cayenne, turmeric and salt in a medium jar or bowl. Add 2 Tablespoons of cold water and stir through. Then add 3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons of cold water and mix well. Cover and set aside.
  3. Pour the EVOO into a large, heavy frying pan (cast iron is great) and set over medium-high heat. When it is hot, put in themustard seeds. As soon as they begin to pop, add the cumin and fennel seeds. This happens quickly so have everything ready.
  4. Stir and quickly add in the mustard paste. Add the green/red chilies, stir and bring to a gentle simmer.
  5. Place the fish in the sauce in a single layer. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through, spooning the sauce over the fish while it cooks. Salmon in panSalmon in pan2