Tuesday, August 15, 2006
We had a HUGE treat last week. Friends of ours called to ask if we wanted to cook an impromptu meal together on Saturday night. I suggested we cook Indian food as they are experts on the subject and I appreciate Indian food but know nothing about cooking it. In no time at all my friend D, an enthusiastic cook, came up with a multi-course menu and we divided up a shopping list. We then met back at home where his wife and I dutifully followed all cutting, chopping and blending orders while he whipped around the kitchen turning our choppings into sumptuous fare. It was such a luxury to be treated to a home cooked meal (in our own home!) and to have no more responsibility than to mindlessly chop away while someone else worried about assembling the dishes. We had a wonderful meal of cold cucumber soup, beef curry, mustard shrimp and chickpeas served with Basmati rice infused with cilantro, and of all things, beer. The leftovers were even more magnificent the next day. I'm breaking this post into two to keep you in suspense -- check back next week for the chickpeas and rice.
(Recipes courtesy of D & T)
Chilled cucumber soup
2 English cucumbers, peeled
3 cloves of garlic (note: 3 cloves will make a fairly garlicy soup (which we like). You might want to start with 1 clove and add more to suit your own taste)
1 green chili
2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 quart buttermilk (or plain yogurt)
1/2 bunch coriander (cilantro) leaves
Salt to taste
Optional: ground roasted cumin
Blend all ingredients together. Adjust the consistency of the soup by adding water as desired. Add olive oil. Chill in refrigerator and before serving garnish with roasted cumin and a sprig of coriander leaves (optional).
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed/chopped fine
1 tablespoon ginger, chopped fine
1.5 lb stew beef, cubed (or lamb or veal)
1 can coconut milk
4-5 whole cloves
1-2 sticks of cinnamon (try to get Indian cinnamon if possible - less sweet than American)
2-3 bay leaves
pinch of red chili powder or more to taste
dry mango powder ("amchur") or lemon juice to taste
salt to taste
Sauté the onion, garlic, ginger until golden brown and the oil separates. Add the beef cubes and brown. Add the spices and 1/2 the coconut milk and enough water or beef stock to cover the meat. If you have a pressure cooker, bring to pressure and cook for 1-1.5 hours. If not, braise on low heat for 3-4 hours until meat is tender. Add the remaining coconut milk and salt to taste.
Variation: replace cumin and bay leaves with black mustard seeds and curry leaves. Fry the mustard seeds in a teaspoon of oil before adding to the pan.