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October 09 COTM: "Indian" Meat

Welcome to the October 2009 Chow Cookbook of the Month featuring:

Classic Indian Cooking, by Julie Sahni
&
Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking

Please post your full-length reviews of *Meat* recipes here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing and the book or author and page number, if possible, as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

This thread will encompass the following chapters-

Jaffrey, "Meat"
Sahni, meat recipes from "Main Dishes" and "Side Dishes"

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

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  1. Well, since nobody has posted anything here in the "Meat" department, I will take the liberty to describe a Jaffrey lamb recipe I made last night. I warn you that this is NOT either of the books from this month. I am waiting my LINK library book which should arrive soon.

    In any case, this was a really good dish and I hope you'll forgive me for putting in a recipe from a book I do have: A Taste of India. It's a Jaffrey book that has recipes from the various Indian states. Lamb With Fresh Green Coriander is from Kashmir and is on p. 107 for those who have this book.

    Since I am interloping, I'd be glad to paraphrase the recipe for anyone who wants it.

    Lamb (she calls for cubed lamb shoulder but all I had was ground lamb so I used that). You crumble the meat into a frying pan along with turmeric, salt, black cardamom pods and 3 cups of water (I didn't use all the water because my lamb was already ground and cooked faster than the cubes would). This is simmered until the lamb is tender.

    Oil is heated in a large pan (I used an old cast iron skillet). 2 sliced onions are added and this mixture is stirred over pretty high heat until the onions are browned. Then take them out and drain on paper towels.

    Into the pan used to cook the onions I put cloves, peppercorns (I used ground pepper), cadamom pods (regular green) and cinnamon and garlic. Stir these together and then put in the yoghurt (I used about 3 cups of low fat Pavels Russian - she says full fat is better but I didn't have any). Stir this over medium high heat until the mixture has reduced to a thick white sauce. I used low-fat yoghurt, I think it separated more than fatter yog would. Because it looked so much like curdled milk, I strained it out and put it into the blender. That worked fine. I put it back into the pan with the lamb and stirred it over low heat for a bit for the flavors to meld and the meat to get heated through. The onions are then put back into the pan and stirred in, along with some more freshly ground black pepper to taste. At the very end chopped cilantro is stirred into the mix. She calls for 2 cups, but I wasn't doing the full recipe and used almost one whole bunch chopped. Large spices are removed before serving....it's actually better to do so before the cilantro is stirred in.

    I served this with some locally procuded naan which I got at Berkeley Bowl. It was really very good, with a slight sour taste from the yoghurt which contrasted nicely with the richness of the lamb.

    I made a small salad of all the local end-of-season bounty such as cherry tomatoes and cukes and peppers from the CSA box along with some chopped parsley and a vinaigrette.

    A lovely dinner. My husband kept saying "This is REALLY GOOD!" I agree and it's not much trouble to make.

    Sorry for intruding on the COTM, but I'm feeling left out w/out my book. I should look at the internet.

    3 Replies
    1. re: oakjoan

      Joan, you crack me up. I don't see how you can "intrude" on COTM when you are always part of it. I know how crummy it is to feel left out because you don't have the book yet and you're anxious to cook. My copy of Jaffrey just came in. I know it's not the same as having your own copy, but if there is anything I can do for you (or for anyone else for that matter)--look up recipes, paraphrase recipes, etc., please let me know. I'm happy to help.

      P.S. The book is much thinner than I expected. I expected this to be some kind of giant tome on Indian cooking. Anyway, I'm sure it has plenty of great recipes. I just need to flip through it and pick some.

      ~TDQ

      1. re: oakjoan

        Beating or whisking the yoghurt well prior to incorporating it into your hot sauce might help with the "curdled" effect. When the beaten yoghurt goes in, let it sit for a few seconds in the hot sauce, then fold it in as you would beaten egg whites in a cake batter.

        Fried onions are used in a number of ways to create textural effects. For certain kormas, fried onions strips are left to drain & crisp, then crushed between fingers and palms into coarse crumbs. These are incorporated into the korma to create a grainy texture, the DANEDAAR effect. In rarer instances, they may be ground up with water or cream and added back that way.

        Have fun with your adventures.

        1. re: GTM

          Beaten or not, yoghurt cooked on high heat is likely to separate.

      2. Royal Braised Lamb with Fragrent Spices
        Sahni, page 174

        I still had half of the leg of lamb used for the kofta and started the day planning to make the Meat Curry on page 170. However a call from friends, and offer of dinner, and I changed to the Korma. I had enough lamb to divide the recipe in half which worked well. (Amounts below are for the full amount.)

        Cut the 3 lbs of lamb into 1 1/2 inch cubes. 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onions, 1 T garlic, 1 1/2 T chopped ginger root, 1 1/2 t ground cumin, 1 1/2 t ground mace, 3/4 t ground cinnamon, 1 t Mughal garam masala, 1/2 t red chili powder, 1 t paprika.

        Have ready to add 1/2 c plain yogurt and 1/2 cup sour cream or heavy cream.

        I used an oval Le Creuset for this dish since I thought I could control the heat well and it would simmer nicely later. Heat 1/2 cup of Ghee over medium-high heat, fry onions for about 15 minutes until caramalized [lots of stirring here.] Add garlic and ginger, stir for 2 minutes before adding the dried spices and stir for just a moment. Add the lamb which should be dry and stir rapidly. I stirred until all the meat was a lovely dark shade of brown. Add the 1/2 c of yogurt and 1/2 cup of sour cream and some salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and let simmer until the meat is tender. The recipe indicates that this will be about 2 hours of time, and that the meat should be stirred regularly.

        I took a chance and set the timer to thirty minutes, stirring when the timer went off. For the final 1/2 hour, I stayed in the kitchen to monitor the stew and indeed, I did have to add a little milk to the pan to keep the spices from burning. As suggested, I then let the stew sit for several hours before reheating for dinner to allow the flavors to blend even more. After reheating, you take the stew off of the heat and add in another 1/2 c of yogurt and 1/2 c of sour cream, mixing to completely integrate the dairy into the stew.

        The results were worth any fussiness about this recipe. The house was filled with the most wonderful aromas, and the stew itself was extremely satisfying. Served with leftovers from our previous Indian dinner and an added vegetable side dish plus store-bought Naan, each guest felt fully sated after just a few chunks of lamb. I was surprised that a recipe that indicated that it would feed 4 in these circumstances would easily feed 6.

        With all of the included dairy, this will not move into a regular rotation, but I have marked it as a wonderful dish for special occasions. It was truly special.

        1. Kashmiri Meatballs (Kashmiri Koftas), Jaffrey p. 16

          You mix grated ginger (which as I type this I realize I inadvertantly omitted), cumin, coriander, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne, S&P and yogurt into ground lamb and form into koftas, heat oil and add cinnamon stick, bay leaf, cardomom pods and whole cloves, then brown the koftas and stir in water and some yogurt and simmer until all the liquid has evaporated, about 30 minutes. I found this quite disappointing. The lamb was dry and tough, as koftas generally are if you take them past the pink in the middle stage, and I didn't like the spicing. But now I wonder if the ginger might have helped both those problems. Still, I am unlikely to try this again, as I have 3 lamb kofta (or similar) recipes already in the rotation, plus a wonderful beef kofta recipe from my trusty old stained and dog-eared 25 year old Indian cookbook by Ismail Merchant (the movie guy).

          3 Replies
          1. re: GretchenS

            Ah, GretchenS, how I love my Ismail Merchant cookbook...I assume you mean Passionate Meals. I've never "met" anybody else who has it. My copy is also stained and dog-eared.

            1. re: oakjoan

              No, mine is called Ismail Merchant's Indian Cuisine, published in 1986 by St Martin's Press. Amazon has some used copies cheap. I was given mine when it was newly-published. The only other cookbook I own that comes even close to being as stained, loved and heavily used is the original SIlver Palate, and many more recipes from Ismail Merchant are in my regular rotation. I own and have cooked from other Indian cookbooks and none of them measure up. So many of his recipes are the kind of thing you'd want to eat everyday (not loaded with fat, for example) and easy enough for weekday meals, and yet some of my most memorable dinner parties have involved buffets with multiples dishes from the book. Tell me about Passionate Meals, I don't think I've ever run across it. (I just checked my library sytem and although my local library doesn't have it, several others do. Only one copy of his Indian Cuisine in the system though.)

              1. re: GretchenS

                Interesting. I'll have to look for it since I adore the book I have.

                The book's subtitle is "The new Indian cuisine for fearless cooks and adventurous eaters"

                It's a compilation of recipes he's made for dinner parties over the years. The sentence "Raquel Welch enjoyed this particular dish which I prepared for her just before we began shooting The Wild Party." It's Roast Lamb with Ginger and Caraway. The forward is by Madhur Jaffrey. She got her start acting in a Merchant/Ivory film.

                I also love his recipe for Basmati Pullao which has onions and cashews and golden raisins.

                He has a story about missing salad when he went home to India as salad is not a part of the Indian meal. He claims he so wanted a salad that he left guests sitting at the table with a feast of biryani prepared by his family and rushed to Crawford market and bought 2 huge lettuces. He made a big salad with oil, lemon and mustard dressing. He claims that ever since then salad has been part of his family's meals.

                Sad that he's no longer with us. He's the first person who introduced me to that miracle of Indian cooking - cardamom rice pudding! I make it at least once a month.

                I'll have to look for your book!

          2. Shahi Korma - Royal Braised Lamb with Fragrant Spices (Sanhi p. 174):

            Lamb shoulder is on sale at the supermarket, so I snagged a 5# roast. The long cooking time called for in all the lamb dishes was a bit of a deterrent, though, so I decided to modify the recipe for the pressure cooker.

            Started caramelizing the onions in the PC while trimming and boning the lamb. Browned the lamb (meat and bones) in a separate pan while finishing the onions and adding the garlic, ginger, and spices to the PC. Tossed the lamb into the PC, deglazed the browning pan with yogurt, and mixed everything together.

            I cooked it at 15psi for 1 hour. That was probably a little too long; the lamb is so tender that it pretty much falls apart. Next time I'm going to stop at 40 minutes.

            Anyway, it's delicious. Spicy, but subtly so.

            While the meat was cooking I made Lucknow sour lentils (Sahni p. 335), cabbage with fennel and mustard seeds (Jaffrey p. 146) and spiced yellow rice a/k/a peelay chaval (Jaffrey p. 153). (Should have thought about the fact that all three of those dishes are yellow before starting to cook them. Oh, well.) Some quick-pickled onions, cilantro chutney, and plain yogurt finished out the meal.

            Next up - biryani with the leftover korma.

            14 Replies
            1. re: alanbarnes

              I've got a lamb shoulder to use up too - I'm braising one right now, but might make this with the other. Thanks for the report. (PS How easy is it to debone?)

              1. re: greedygirl

                Frankly, it's kind of a pain. Somebody with better knowledge of ovine anatomy might have an easier time with it, but I struggled a bit. In retrospect I should have done a more perfunctory job of it and pulled the chunks of meat off the bone after cooking. 20/20 hindsight and all.

                Another lamb recipe worth considering is Jaffrey's rogan josh. it has a similar flavor profile, but you end up with more gravy. It's a perennial favorite at my house.

                Either way, figure out the yield that you're going to get from that lamb shoulder before you start cooking. I started out thinking I'd have more meat than required for a full recipe, but ended up with somewhat less - about 2.5 pounds of meat from a 5-pound shoulder roast.

                1. re: alanbarnes

                  "Another lamb recipe worth considering is Jaffrey's rogan josh" Is that the same as Rogani Gosht by any chance? If so, I'm going to make Sahni's recipe on Friday night, along with Saffron Rice with Peaches.

                  1. re: MMRuth

                    Actually, Sahni has a recipe for rogan josh, too (p. 176). It's very different from Jaffrey's, though.

                    I've had my eye on that rice with peaches recipe - it sounds deliciously exotic. Be sure to post your impressions.

                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      Ah, ok, thank you. I'm finally learning what the words mean in the names of Indian dishes. Kind of. The one I'm going to make is "Lamb Braised in Aromatic Cream Sauce", p. 165.

                      I did make the Lamb Fillets Braised in Yogurt Cardamom Sauce a week or so ago - p. 168 - and liked it as well.

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          The fun part is that the same dish can be called by several different names, and the same name can refer to several different dishes.

                          Guess it's not surprising in a country with 30 or so major indigenous languages, hundreds that are spoken less widely, plus languages like Persian, Arabic, and English that arrived with foreigners and became widely spoken.

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        I am gonna try Sahni's Roghan Josh recipe tomorrow and report back. I have marinated the meat already-the recipe says do it 30 mins-2 1/2 hours but I am gonna do it overnight.

                        Just in case anyone's curious: roghan means 'fat/oil' as in butter or ghee, roghani gosht means buttered meat. Josh is a totally different word. Josh means excitement or bubbling action, so Roghan Josh is a reference to the slow bubbling simmer of the fat filled stew.

                        Sahni's recipe for Roghan Josh is definately a resto style recipe, not a home cooked Kashmiri wazwaan type or pandit type Roghan Josh. I am kind of a stickler for authenticity although I have no reason to be so...as is said here all the time on CH, it only matters that it is good. So let's see how it goes. Anyhow, I will report back on the results after it is done.

                        I LOVE the Kashmir section recipes in the Jaffrey Taste of India book, BTW. I didn't know we could review those sort of ad hoc for the Jaffrey COTM but now that I do I might do a recipe from there, too.

                        1. re: luckyfatima

                          It's one of my favorite Jaffrey books too. Will have to have a special look at the Kashmiri section!

                          I love your descriptions and background fill-ins luckyf! Keep up the good work.

                      2. re: alanbarnes

                        I was lucky enough to buy a lamb shoulder from a butcher in Apt France who was so pleased that I was cooking lamb, he taught me how to debone it. Each time I do it, I get just a little better [i.e. faster.]

                        Sahni states that meat must be trimmed of all fat before cooking, so when I made this [see above], I spent the time to break down the meat completely.

                        1. re: smtucker

                          That's funny! I get the impression that lamb isn't that widely eaten in the States which is weird, as it's so delicious. For me, it's also a good choice, ethically, as you can't intensively farm lambs.

                          1. re: greedygirl

                            Statistically, you are correct. Americans simply don't eat lamb. But, those of us who grew up in New England and upstate New York eat far more lamb, on average, than the rest of the country. As home to the early American textile industry, sheep farms used to be everywhere. Sheep did well on this rolling and hilly land, and the wool could be sold for cash.

                        2. re: alanbarnes

                          Normally I'd just ask the butcher to do it, but we have a new farmer's market in my neighbourhood and I got it there. (Two 3 lb shoulders, some rump steak and two rib-eyes for £20 - bargainous!)

                      3. re: alanbarnes

                        Sounds like a fabulous meal! That's more cooking than I do in a week. :-)

                      4. Kashmiri Lamb Stew, Pg. 63
                        Indian Cooking, Madhur Jaffrey

                        As is stated in the header notes, this is a stew plain and simple. No heat from chilis but lots of flavor from ground fennel seeds (spice grinder), a piece of cinnamon stick, 10 cardamon pods, 15 cloves, salt and dried ground ginger. Typical of any meat stew, the cubes of lamb shoulder were browned along with the spices added in stages the fennel and ginger added last with a 3 2/3 c water. Cantilever the cover on the pan and simmer for 30 minutes. Then completely cover the pan and cook for 40 minutes. Take the cover off, whisk 1 3/4 yogurt till it's creamy then, after pushing the meat to the sides of the pan, slowly pour the yogurt into the pan, moving a wooden spoon back & forth all the while so the yogurt won't curdle. The pan is partially covered again the the stew cooks for an addition 10 minutes after which garam masala is sprinkled in.

                        I Love lamb... it's my favorite meat but I didn't love this stew. Don't know why. It may have been the garam masala at the end or the whole cardamom pods I kept biting into ( no, you're not supposed to eat them) but the stew is not my favorite. It was fine but not terrific. DH liked it well enough, said it was delicious. But me, not so much.

                        I served it with Sahni's Butter Smothered Cabbage, pg. 298 and the leftover Spicy Basmati Rice, pg. 194. Now That was delicious!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Gio

                          Lamb With Spinach, p. 67
                          Indian Cooking - Jaffrey

                          We both realllllly liked this. I cut up 3 lamb shoulder chops into squarish lumps.

                          You start out with heating oil in a large pot. Peppercorns, bay leaves, cloves and cardamom pods are stirred into the oil for a few moments to flavor the oil. Onion, garlic and ginger are added and stirred until the onions develop "brown specks".

                          The lamb is then added and stir-fried for a minute along with some cumin, coriander, cayenne and 1 tsp of salt. 5 Tbsps. of yoghurt are added a Tbsp. at a time and then stirred into the meat mixture until all the yoghurt has been used. The spinach is added (I just roughly chopped some fresh spinach) along with some salt. It's stirred until the spinach wilts and then covered and cooked over low heat for about an hour and 10 minutes until the meat is tender. I left mine to cook for only about 20 minutes, sampled and found the meat pretty tender. The lid is removed and 1/4 tsp. of garam masala is added. The stew is stirred for about 5 minutes until the sauce gets thick. I didn't bother to chop my spinach fine and therefore did not have a green sauce as described in the recipe. Mine was more like a creamy brownish sauce with lots of green pieces of spinach.

                          I served it with the carrot and onion salad (reported on in the appropriate thread), along with some nice storebought onion naan.

                          This was really delicious and not that complicated. I am pretty lax about prepping lamb and just left some of the sinew and fat on the chunks I cut from the shoulder chops. A lttile extra chewing required, but not bad.

                          1. re: Gio

                            I agree that this is not the best lamb stew; it may be my least favorite (of those I've tried) in Jaffrey's book. I much prefer her Rogan Josh.

                          2. Dry cooked spicy ground meat, Sahni pg. 158

                            This was absolutely delicious and really easy to put together. Not the prettiest dish in the world but it went well with the saag and basmati rice.

                            Basically, brown onions and then add garlic, ginger, green chilies (I used thai chilies from the garden). After a few minutes, add either ground lamb or ground beef (I used beef from the CSA) and brown slightly with a bit of tumeric. Add boiling water and cover until the meat is cooked and the water is absorbed. Turn off the heat and then add garam masala, lemon juice and chopped cilantro.

                            This meat dish is also used as stuffing for meat pastries and stuffed cabbages. Sahni recommends taking a potato masher to the meat mixture to make the beef a bit silkier. I did do this but left the meat a little wetter and not as fine since I was making it as a main dish.

                            This was spicy and fragrant and just felt like comfort food. It's a keeper.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: beetlebug

                              I made this tonight. I needed an easy dinner tonight and since I am desperately trying to use up the bits and bobs in the freezer, I pulled a bag of lamb cubes out this morning. [Gosh I love grinding meat just before I cook with it.]

                              Frying the onions always seems to take longer than I expect, but once I reached the golden brown stage, it all went quickly.

                              I served with simple Basmati rice, some everyday dal and peas. Oh, and some tamarind-date chutney from another recipe sorce. Ate with the chowAlmostAnAdult while chatting about her new job. Close to perfect.

                              1. re: beetlebug

                                Dry Cooked Spicy Ground Meat, Pg. 158
                                Classic Indian Cooking, Julie Sahni

                                Funny thing happened on the way to this finished dish last night:
                                I made the Raw Onion Relish (431) and Cucumber and Yogurt Salad (343) before starting the prep for the spicy ground meat and DH spirited the bowls away to make room on the counter. Everything went along just as Beetlebug described - we used ground lamb. When the time came to serve dinner, DH plated as I told what went with what... We had the lamb, roasted beets, Basmati, the relish and the yogurt salad. DH couldn't find the onion relish. He went crazy looking all over the kitchen and the pantry room. Finally he realized he had incorporated the relish into the fried lamb mixture along with the other sliced onions he had browned. But the lamb was absolutley delicious. I had a good laugh but he didn't....

                                1. re: beetlebug

                                  Meat-Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Ginger Lemon Sauce, page 194
                                  Keema Bhare Bandh Gobhi

                                  Though this recipe is technically different than the Dry Cooked spicy ground meat, Sahni, the cabbage filling is the same. Tonight, I used ground lamb which was probably fattier than perfect for this recipe, so I did end up pouring off some fat to get the correct texture. The cabbage is blanched, 15 leaves are reserved, and the rest is shredded. To make the sauce, onions are cooked until they begin to color, then tomato, peeled and sliced lemons, the shredded cabbage, ginger, water, and salt and pepper are added. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 2 minutes.

                                  When the cabbage is cooled, 2 1/2 tbl of the meat mixture is rolled up inside the cabbage leaf. A 1/3 of the sauce is put into the bottom a casserole, the cabbage rolls are tightly packed into the casserole, and then the rest of the sauce is poured over the top. Bake for 50 minutes covered with foil, and then 10 minutes without.

                                  As Sahni states "these cabbage rolls are so mellow and subtly flavored that anything more than plain cooked rice would probably detract..." The flavors, though subtle were distinct. The thai peppers, tomato and lemon gave the dish an acidic edge, but the warming spices counteracted it well. The cabbage used to roll were not quite cooked enough; the ribs were still very tough. In the future, I would probably blanch them longer than the 5 minutes in the recipe. I expect the leftovers to be even better.

                                  Served with steamed basmati rice. I was starving. No pictures tonight.

                                  1. re: smtucker

                                    Reheated for lunch today and the dish's texture was more appealing, but the amount of lemon is just too much. By the fourth bite, all one tasted was the lemon. Another case of not knowing what size lemon, etc. I had 12 slices, 1/4" thick, and in the future I would reduce that to about 6-8.

                                    1. re: smtucker

                                      I would love to try to make something like this. Sounds very appealing.

                                2. Rogan Josh or Lamb in Fragrant Garlic Cream Sauce p. 176-178 Julie Sahni Classic Indian Cooking

                                  The recipe claims to be Mughlai-Kashmiri. Lamb cubes are covered in a ground onion, ground ginger, ground coriander, and ground red chile yoghurt marinade with ghee folded in. The recipe calls for 2.5 cups of yoghurt plus 1/2 cup sour cream. I omitted the sour cream.

                                  One then gently boils the meat and spice marinade then simmers for about 2 hours+. Then one adds a tempering of crushed garlic, ground garam masala, ground cumin, and ground cardamom. Sahni also says to add 1 cup of cream, which I omitted.

                                  I knew this was a restaurant dish from the get-go and not authentic Kashmiri Roghan Josh. I ignored other aspects of the recipe as well; the fact that the meat is basically boiled in yoghurt without browning or braising. the fact that no spices that are signature of Kashmiri cooking are used, and the fact that the recipe contained too much yoghurt and creamy stuff, the fact that the end result would be pale and not deep brownish red like a typical Roghan Josh, and so forth.

                                  Still, I followed the recipe faithfully, the only omissions being the fatty dairy products of cream and sour cream. I was hoping that the recipe would come out good despite my doubts.

                                  The gravy of the recipe was not bad. It was rich without the cream though a little grainy from large amount of ground onion. I suppose the cream would have smoothed that out, but I really didn't want to buy cream just for one dish, and I only would have used a dollop anyhow if I had cream on hand. For people who like faintly spiced Indian food, this recipe is quite suitable.

                                  The lamb meat became very tender from the yoghurt marinade and the slow cooking. However, it looked and tasted boiled. I should have browned it first, cooked the yoghurt-spice paste, then added in the meat. There was no need at all to marinade because of the long cooking time which tenderizes lamb and sets the flavors anyhow. Another option would have been to have done the marinade in a much lesser quantity of yoghurt, perhaps a 1/2 cup only. Then the meat would have braised when the oil had risn to the top of the yoghurt. The boiled meat effect wasn't enjoyable.

                                  This recipe is faux Mughlai, faux Kashmiri, has some cooking-chemistry flaws, and I was disappointed with it. The end result wasn't horrible, but if I may say, I am a better cook than is evidenced by what I produced with this recipe. The recipe is not to my liking.

                                  I served with basmati rice, Afghan naan, stuffed eggplant (see COTM veg), and some left over mantu.

                                  1. ROGAN JOSH, Jaffrey's Indian Cooking, p. 70

                                    OK, I make this all the time. It was the first Indian dish I ever attempted, and it was delicious. When people ask me what I recommend for beginners in Indian cooking, I always recommend this one. Despite the longish list of ingredients, it is really easy.

                                    I always make the lamb version. I cheat a little in that I always buy a boned leg of lamb, cube what I need, and freeze what I don't for the next curry or stew. I long ago gave up trying to fight with shoulder or to do my own boning. I follow Jaffrey's recipe pretty exactly. Since I've begun using Fage whole milk yogurt for the yogurt, I've noticed a considerable improvement.
                                    I usually serve this with spiced basmati rice, Lake Palace Hotel's Eggplant in the Pickling Style (Jaffrey 136), naan (store bought), Yogurt with Cucumber and Mint (Jaffrey 210), and Tomato, Onion, and Cilantro Relish (Jaffrey 215).
                                    If I'm in a real hurry--just it and rice and a side veggie. It is always a hit.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                      Hi nomadchowwoman: Without repeating the recipe exactly, can you give us an overview of it. I don't own the book and I'd like to get an idea of how the ingredients and steps differ from the recipe Sahni gives.

                                      1. re: luckyfatima

                                        Yes, happy to. After browning the meat and setting aside, cardamom pods, bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns and a piece of cinnamon stick go into the oil to color the spices and swell the pods. Then, a good bit of chopped onion (two whole), until they are med. brown. Next, a blender-made paste of ginger, garlic, and water is quickly stir-fried in. Another quick stir-fry of ground coriander, cumin, paprika, cayenne, and salt. Then the meat and its juices are stirred in. Now the 6 T. or so of yogurt (I love the Greek-style whole milk such as Fage) is stirred in 1 T. at a time, and then the whole thing stir fried an additional 3-5 minutes. Water is added and the mixture brought to a boil. Next, heat is lowered to a simmer, pot is covered, and the stew cooks for about an hour until the lamb is tender. At the end, cover is removed and sauce is reduced to a thick reddish-brown sauce and sprinkled with garam masala and black pepper before serving.

                                        BTW, I just broke down and ordered the Sahni book; I couldn't resist after all the tempting postings!

                                        1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                          Thanks. The recipe sounds absolutely delicious. I'll have to give it a try!

                                    2. Mughlai Lamb with Turnips: Jaffrey, pg. 75

                                      Wow! As someone who loves turnips, this recipe is a godsend. You start by peeling the small turnips (we have some beautiful turnips in the market this year), pricking them with a fork, then salting them for 1-2 hours.

                                      Then we chopped 5 onions into thin strips, and as Jaffrey suggests in her "Technique" section, we fried them in oil until they developed a rich red-brown colour. Now, here is my first beef. It always takes us much longer than stated in recipes to brown onions adequately. In this recipe, it claims the onions should brown in 12 minutes. We were there at least 25-30 minutes before we got the depth of colour. Does anyone else have this problem? We were not shy about using fairly high heat. We have had this problem on other recipes too, it always takes way longer than stated to cook the onions. We then removed the onions from the oil, and added the bone-in lamb shoulder chunks, yogurt, ginger and salt to the remaining oil in the pan. This mixture was boiled until the sauce thickened. The the heat was turned down to medium- high and the meat was browned. The heat was turned down again, and we added turmeric, cayenne and ground coriander.

                                      We then added 10 cups of water, salt, and the turnips. You are then supposed to boil the stew uncovered until there is only 1/3 of the liquid left, supposedly for 45 minutes. Now here is my second beef. It took way longer than 45 minutes to reduce the sauce, more like 1 hour and 15 minutes, with us giving it high heat. We ended up overcooking the turnips a bit, they were extremely soft at the end of everything, but they did maintain their round shape at least. Then we added the onions, the garam masala, and cooked gently for another 10 minutes on low heat.

                                      We did make the garam masala from scratch. I couldn't get cardamom seeds, so I had to peel a bunch of pods. As she states in the "Spices" section, this is truly a tedious task, best done in front of the tv. We also discovered that our old coffee grinder is really broken, so we used our regular coffee grinder to grind the spices, after a tiring go with the mortar and pestle. Thanks goodness for modern technology! We'll be going out and getting a new coffee grinder after the holidays (Canadian Thanksgiving).

                                      Bit of a hassle, what with the extra time needed to brown onions and reduce sauce, but goodness! So worth the effort! The lamb was incredibly tender and flavourful, the turnips a glorious match for the meat, there was so much depth of flavour from the browned onions and the freshly ground spices, and lots of balance as well. I think it is key to brown the onions enough, you really have to let them almost burn. We served this with the Gujerati-style green beans and basmati rice. Delicious - we'll be making this again for sure.

                                       
                                      9 Replies
                                      1. re: moh

                                        Sounds like a lovely recipe. It also takes my big yellow skinned American onions 25 mins to brown on slow heat. I think the effect is nicer than a cheating high heat quick browing (less than 10 mins but there is still moisture left in the onions slices and the outside can blacken, also they don't break down as well in the gravy...in this type of cooking the onion must break down). It always takes a long time, I am surprised Jaffrey says 12 minutes. However, those small purple Indian onions do brown faster. Still longer than 12 mins on slow heat though.

                                        Also, maybe 10 cups of water is too much. You really only need enough to get all of the meat and turnip pieces covered. If the water level is much higher than that, you will have to boil off the extra water or the flavor will be weak and the stew gravy won't be thick enough. Perhaps your pot shape is different so 10 cups is too much? Dunno.

                                        I grind the whole cardamom pods in my cooking, you could try that next time if you don't want to pick out the black beads from the pods.

                                        The recipe looks great though and I wish I had that book!

                                        1. re: luckyfatima

                                          Phew! It isn't just me! I completely agree about the fact than the onions need to break down in the gravy. It really made the dish. I guess I'll just have to be patient and add some prep time when I make this recipe.

                                          I think I will use less water next time, just to cover the ingredients, as you point out. And I'll try just grinding the pods of the cardamom! Good to know you can do this.

                                          Let me know if you would like more specifics for this recipe! It is really lovely. I can either post them here, or you can email me.

                                            1. re: moh

                                              Cooking the onions properly is the most important thing, I have discovered, and it definitely takes more than 12 minutes - more like double that.

                                          1. re: moh

                                            Mughlai Lamb with Turnips: Jaffrey, pg. 75

                                            I made this last night and really liked it as well. I had originally cut my turnips up for a different recipe so these were sliced thinly. Therefore, after pricking and salting the turnips, the cooked turnips were too salty.

                                            I agree with the off cooking times. It's a huge peeve of mine because it can really throw off dinner planning. The only accurately timed cookbooks have been All About Braising, Zuni and Lucques.

                                            I loved the lamb technique and have never added yogurt and spices with the meat and then boiled it down. I loved and the yogurt got incorporated and then it all boiled away. The bottom of the pot was a black mess but once I added the water in, I scraped it all up.

                                            The lamb was so flavorful and tender. The turnips were a tad salty, but it was still fine. A delicious dish for a cool fall's night.

                                            1. re: moh

                                              moh: I actually bought some turnips when I saw this Jaffrey recipe. It looked so tempting. Now I have proof that it's good, I'll be cooking it this week. Thanks for the great report!

                                              1. re: moh

                                                Mughlai Lamb with Turnips, Pg. 75
                                                Indian Cooking, Madhur Jaffrey

                                                My turn for this lamb dish and I have to say we really didn't like it as much as did the others who made it. And.... I don't know why. I halved the recipe but follwed everything as written. Used fresh organic lamb bought at the farm in the morning which the butcher deboned for me. I cut the pieces to size at home. Used 3 baseball sized turnips sliced in half and salted. DH cooked the sliced onion properly to the reddish brown color. He was surprised at the ease with which the yogurt and spices, which were freshly ground, incoporated with the meat then disappeared. We added less than 5 cups of water. The whole thing cooked for 45 minutes. The lamb was very tender and tasty. I thought the turnips were over cooked and although I love turnips I didn't like them in this. As Beetlebug noted, they were a little salty. This is the second lamb dish that didn't appeal to me. DH said it was "mundaine" but couldn't say why but I noticed he ate a very healthy portion. I do know he thought the prep and cooking time was long and I think he just got bored with it. I served it with Sahni's Fragrant Buttered Greens, pg. 319 and freshly baked pita from the farm which DH heated on the grill pan.

                                                Tonight I'll try Jaffrey's The Lake Palace Hotel's aubergine cooked in the pickling style. Fingers crossed. So it's been love one, don't love one....

                                                1. re: Gio

                                                  I'm quite sure you'll like the aubergine dish, we love it.

                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                    Well.. I had to forego the aubergine dish last night. DH just was not up to any prolonged cooking two nights in a row so we had grilled pork chops (from Tendercrop Farm), steamed Basmati and reheated the fragrant buttered greens which, truth be told, tasted much better the second time around.

                                                    The Mughlai lamb was reheated for lunch but I took out the turnips. What a difference... the lamb was delicious. It should have been. At $9.00 a pound it should have been spectacular! There really is nothing like fresh organic meat, though.

                                              2. Lamb Biryani (Jaffrey p. 154 / Sahni p. 192)

                                                This dish was sort of a mash-up of techniques and ingredients from both books, but the results were so good I felt the need to share.

                                                Made an extra-large batch of buttered basmati rice on Saturday, so that there would be a bunch (about 2 pounds cooked weight) left over on Sunday. Also had a little less than a quart of leftover Shahi Korma (Sahni p. 174).

                                                Toasted up half a gram of saffron threads and soaked them in milk for a few hours per Jaffrey. Oiled a dutch oven (a shallower casserole would have been better, but I don't have one with a lid) then followed the Sahni technique of layering up a quarter of the rice, half the lamb, another quarter of the rice, the other half of the lamb, and the rest of the rice. Drizzled the saffron milk over the top, sealed the lid on with a dough rope, and popped it in a 300F oven for an hour.

                                                When the biryani came out of the oven, I cracked the seal and topped it with fried almonds, cashews, and raisins as well as some crisp-fried onions and served it straight from the casserole by digging down through the layers with each spoonful. Not the most elegant presentation, but the kids were hungry.

                                                Wow. This really is a dish that's greater than the sum of its parts. Everybody loved it. With a more careful presentation (per Sahni, scoop out the top layer of rice, mix the lower layers and arrange them on a platter, then return the top rice layer and garnish) it would make a great centerpiece for a fancy dinner.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                                  alan: At our annual SFBayArea Chowhound picnic 2 years ago, one hound made biryani and it was a huge hit. I've never taken the time to concoct it, but after eating the hound's and seeing your report, I'm going to wade right in!

                                                  Thanks.

                                                2. Minced Meat with Peas, Pg. 62
                                                  Indian Cooking, Madhur Jaffrey

                                                  The minced meat in this recipe is lamb with beef given as an alternative but I used lamb. The peas are not chick peas but green shelled peas and together with all the usual spices made a dish that was absolutely delicious and quite satisfying.

                                                  After frying 1 chopped onion (large Spanish) and 6 or 7 chopped garlic cloves (5) in oil (corn) the ground lamb is added along with grated ginger, 2 minced fresh hot chilies (jalapeño again... LOL... with ribs and seeds), coriander, cumin and cayenne pepper. Stir fry for 5-ish minutes, add a little water, cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes. Add 1 1/2c peas, 7 Ts chopped cilantro leaves, a little salt, 1t garam masala, 1 1/2 T lemon juice, stir, cover and cool for 10 minutes or till peas are tender.

                                                  Ms Jaffrey warns that there might be a lot of fat in the bottom of the pan and it shouldn't be served, but I just more noticed juices than fat since I had reduced the amount of oil at the beginning. I served the meat and peas, with a slotted spoon, on top of heated Naan (store bought) with a heap of Jaffrey's Onion Relish and steamed Basmati rice. Needless to say we loved everything and I don't think there are any left overs except for some rice Bah humbug!

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                    I love this recipe. It's also good with chickpeas instead of "pea" peas. It makes a great stuffing for samosas as well. I like to wallow in the past and serve meat samosas with sour cream the way they did at the Rajput on Bloor in Toronto when I was going to U of T.

                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                      Made this (with beef and peas) for dinner last night (cook's choice, since it was Mothers' Day, hope everyone had a nice one) and liked it a lot. Will brighten it up with more lemon juice and some chopped cilantro - only had dry mint and don't like to overdo that. The potatoes with black mustard, cumin, and sesame seeds, and a raita with Taiwanese cucumbers (like junior English cucumbers, very crisp and juicy, with thin skins) to go along. Cook was happy. Even Indian is not his favorite cuisine husband allowed as how it was good (with the emphasis on the potatoes, which are brilliant). Samosas in the offing.

                                                    2. Delhi-style lamb cooked with potatoes (Aloo gosht), Jaffrey

                                                      Jaffrey says this is an "everyday meat dish" with a homey taste, and I see what she means. This was comfort food, Indian-style, and very tasty.

                                                      To make, fry 12oz of finely chopped onion, a chopped green chile and 5 cloves of garlic in 7 TBSP of vegetable oil. When the onions have browned slightly, add 1 kg of cubed shoulder of lamb and stir vigorously for about 5 mins. Then add 12 oz of peeled, chopped tomatoes, a tbsp ground cumin seeds, 2 tsp ground coriander seeds and half a tsp of turmeric (just realised I forgot this - oops!) and 1 tsp of cayenne pepper. Cook over a high heat for 10-15 mins or until the sauce thickens and the oil separates. Then add 1lb of potatoes and 1.5 pints of water, cover (with lid ajar) and simmer for an hour and ten minutes until the meat is tender and the sauce thick.

                                                      Like moh found with the lamb with turnips, I thought it needed a bit longer to cook, and also I removed the lid for the last 20 minutes or so to let the sauce thicken.

                                                      I served this with plain rice, leftover "every day" dal from Sahni, glazed beetroot, also from Sahni and my favourite easy yoghurt and mint sauce (Cooking Like Mummyji).

                                                      I enjoyed this dish, but it lacked a bit of oomph and I'd probably use a bit more chile and cayenne next time. It also bore no relation to the Indian restaurant food that I'm used to, and I suspect that it's because it's a home-style dish which you don't get in the average "curry house" in England. I'd be interested to hear what luckyfatima thinks about this recipe.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                                        Sad that not enough restos serve this type of fare. Aloo gosht is definately home-style everyday food and the cooking method is basically the common home-style method, with the browned onions and the tomatoes cooked till the moisture evaporates, and the spicing (at least in U.P./Punjab/Southern Pakistan) being a simple red chile powder, turmeric, cumin, and coriander powder, plus usually a bit of garam masala would be added to these types of dishes.

                                                        It is a very typical N. Indian/Pakistani daily dish. It is a great dish. Some people eat spicier than others, so more chile powder is up to you. A way to give a dish like this oomph at the end is to add in a tiny pinch of garam masala and a tiny squeeze of fresh lemon juice (which should not be enough make the dish sour or lemony at all, only to lift the flavors), and to add a garnish of chopped fresh cilantro and chopped fresh green chiles. This should all be done once the flame is off.

                                                      2. JAFFREY, Lamb with Onions (Do Piaza), P. 64

                                                        I made this dish last night. Started by frying 3 onions, very thinly sliced, in oil until they turned reddish brown. (While this appeared to be quite a lot, the onions cooked down to what appeared to be less than a cup.) While these drained on paper towel, I added a piece of cinnamon stick, and 10 ea. cardamom pods and cloves to the hot pan, stirred a few seconds and then browned the lamb in batches in the same pan w/spices. After removing lamb w/slotted spoon and putting aside, I added to the pan another whole onion that had been finely chopped. That browned quickly, and I added a garlic-ginger paste and cooked until the liquid from the paste had evaporated. Lowered heat, addded 1 T. ground coriander and 2 tsp. cumin. Then stir in 6 T. yogurt, 1 T. at a time, incorporating each well. Then return meat and accumulated juices to the pot, with 1 1/2 c. water (less than recipe calls for--1 3/4 seemed like too much), a little cayenne, and salt, covered and cooked it on low for 45 min., as directed.

                                                        After 45 minutes, lamb was perfectly tender. I sprinkled w/garam masala and some chopped cilantro, for color, and it was served, as part of a dinner of several dishes with Jaffrey's aromatic yellow rice (p. 200), which turned out nice--pretty easy to make with a lovely yellow color from the turmeric.

                                                        I keep bringing up color because one issue I had with the lamb dish was the color. It was a drab grey-brown, very visually unappealing. It didn't help that I had seen a color photograph of this dish in another cookbook--and mine looked nothing like it. That said, the dish had nice flavors, though it was maybe a little sweet(though only from onion) for my taste. But my husband and one of our guests LOVED it; both commented that they could not care less about the color.

                                                        There are so many lamb dishes in Jaffrey's book that I do love and are visually apppealing, so I'm not sure I'd make it again. OTOH, if DH asked for it . . . .

                                                        17 Replies
                                                        1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                          This sounds like yet another great recipe from Jaffrey's book. I am going to have to get that book.

                                                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                            Let us go back to the Ginger & Garlic step. The instructions around here seem to be either convoluted, wrong or a bit of both. You need to have a bit of oil to briefly fry the GG paste to JUST remove the raw smell, but not overcook.

                                                            That 2nd onion should not be browned because you already have the 3 browned/fried onions already. If anything, you now need the flavor of the RAW onion + its moisture, & that of the yoghurt to braise the lamb. NO WATER. The lamb should have fat & connective tissue. PLEASE USE ONLY shank & shoulder. Trust me more than Madhur when it comes to meat cookery!!

                                                            GG in , cook, add coriander, cumin, add 1 Tb beaten yoghurt to prevent burning, cook briefly, add back meat, fried onions (save some for garnish), coarse grated raw onion and rest of yoghurt, salt, hint cayenne. Stir well. Cover + moderate heat until juices exude, a few minutes. Cook until meat 2/3 done. Raise heat and begin to develop fond. This will give exquisite COLOR AND TASTE. BUT you need to be cooking in the appropriate cookware and remain mindful. Sitram Profesorie catering quality rondeux brazier, Falk rondeux, heavy wok, ceramic lined dutch oven or an Indian lagan.

                                                            Keep stirring gently whenever fond develops. Toasty brown dark gravy will envelop the meat. It may already be done. If not, scant half cup water-3/4 c,seal with Aluminum foil & cover, add whole shallots & whole peppercorns if you like, place if hot 450F oven to raise steam for 20 min & shut off. Let stay in falling oven for a bit. NO CILANTRO. CRUSHED peppercorns OK. No more garam masala should be necessary. You are to taste the meat, and the onions here! You will have great color & taste provided you have created the fond carefully as I have indicated!! Add Ghee when necessary, not water! There are fine points of frying onions that are lost on Madhur Jaffrey. These authors have done extraordinary service for Indian cooking, but are amateurs in the best sense of the word, missing technique. Indian cooking is painstaking technique, not recipe.

                                                            1. re: GTM

                                                              This is terrific information, I hope many people see it. Thank you very much.

                                                              1. re: GTM

                                                                Yes, agreed. I hope you do stick around and post more. I have liked your posts very much thus far, very informative. Thanks.

                                                                1. re: luckyfatima

                                                                  Thank you, but the thanks are to be directed to my teachers, only, ( as we say in Indian English!). We are like that only! lol. But LuckyFatimaji also pointed out an important aspect of all North Indian meat braises: to develop the fried onions, they should be fried very very slow & low in a LOT of oil or ghee. Even contemporary Pakistani "experts" neglect this part, doing a FAST DARK fry. NOT THE SAME.

                                                                  When you submerge a large mass of very very finely sliced onion in a very large amount of oil, and place it on slow simmer under cover, steam begins to break down the slices if they have been cut along the root-stem [North-South ] axis. Onion leaves have parallel veins and cutting along this axis allows them to break down.

                                                                  You will observe a grey mass forming, if using yellow onions. This stage, call it (I) has its uses, but we shall forge ahead, noting that such a mass is necessary for some gravies.

                                                                  Next, this cottony mess will have turned into gray, raggedy clumps separated by pools of bubbling oil that were concealed by the lumpy grey mess before. This is stage (II). You should still have the cover on, and this is 25 min or so into your ordeal!! Since you will be making about 4-5 lbs raw onions in 32-48 oz oil (!!!!!), forge ahead!!

                                                                  Next, those raggedy clumps will begin to become even more discrete. You will begin to see the fine shreds of onions as translucent, discrete entities in the clumps, about to turn color and separate.

                                                                  This is when you begin to raise heat and begin carefully to stir. The oil will have turned clear but have started to take on a faint golden hue from the Maillard reactions & caramelizations. You will begin to inhale the fragrance of these changes and be able to see the onion shreds rapidly change texture & color.

                                                                  This is where you need to be very very careful. Just like distilling petroleum, where you draw off several fractions, I have indicated to you that you start off with a very large batch of raw onion & oil so that you might extract several fractions at stages I-IV that are all useful for Mughlai cooking, for MEAT BRAISES & GRAVIES like Qalia and Qorma.

                                                                  Even without getting into such complications, you might just concentrate on the last stage, when the shreds naturally separate out and swim free, golden. DO NOT LET THEM GET ANY DARKER. KEEP THEM VERY LIGHT GOLD. Pakistani chefs will deride you, & so will those from the Delhi & Punjab Schools. Let them. I am speaking from my own experience. You will enjoy a much better tasting dish, guaranteed. Try not to put chili heat in ANY food, just some high quality piquant paprika [unsmoked] if you must, and you will see why the light gold onion base shines through.

                                                                  lso many professional male chefs who darken their onions in the subcontinent smoke, chew tobacco, chew pan bahaar/gutkaa, chew pan, or drink to such an extent that they have leather for tongues. It is difficult to rely on their criterion of taste: everything is exaggerated; too much oil, spice, salt, aromatics; very heavy-handed.

                                                                  P.S. A gentleman upthread was toasting his SAFFRON. PLEASE DON'T! This a BAD habit from the subcontinent based upon POOR QUALITY, ADULTERATED SAFFRON, and Saffron that has NOT BEEN TRIMMED & TAILED properly.

                                                                  High quality IRANIAN/AFGHAN saffron e.g. from Vanilla Imports, needs no fiddling around! I got 1 oz from them & it lasted me 10 years, 2001-2011!!

                                                                  1. re: GTM

                                                                    Interesting that you consider dark browned onions characteristic of Pakistani cuisine, GTM. This was, oddly, a point of some dispute between my Pakistani mother and her (now late) Pakistani mother-in-law. My mother, whose family style of cooking is derived from a mix of rural Punjabi and very traditional inner city Lahori, favours light golden onions. While my grandmother (of Afghan and Delhi ancestry) insisted they be thoroughly browned. Odd to see a kitchen dispute from my childhood crop up on Chowhound!

                                                                    I'm really enjoying reading your detailed descriptions as I try to recreate foods from both sides of my family, living now in another country!

                                                                    1. re: GTM

                                                                      Interesting observations. Many Pakistani US restaurants which cater to a largely Pakistani clientele (especially catering to single/sans begum males like taxi drivers and so forth) are guilty of creating this dreadful overly oily, spicy food. Also common in Dubai. My husband calls this truck-driver hotel food, as it is the same sort one would get at truck stops in Pakistan. Makes me sad that either creamy tomato bisque masala at the typical faux Mughlai/Punjabi restos, or truck driver hotel style food is what represents this delicious regional cuisine in the US.

                                                                      My onions are gold-red for most of these sorts of recipes, (ILs so-called 'Gangetic Pathans' from U.P.-Lucknow, Delhi, and Dehra Doon, but long time residency in Pakistani Punjab has influenced their table and mine) but I had Hyderabadi Indian neighbors whose onions were fried till dark red brown. They looked past the point of burnt, but not quite blackened, I would consider them ruined at that point because they turn the dish bitter, and they always told me my food was sweet for them. I suspected it was because of the difference in onion frying.

                                                                      1. re: luckyfatima

                                                                        Dear Fatimaji,

                                                                        Many decades ago, when Nasser was still alive, I was fortunate enough to eat 2 simple but extraordinary meals in Cairo that opened my eyes to how we utterly destroy food with spices and idiocy in the subcontinent, and then boast about how it is supposed to be a cuisine without parallel in the Universe, nay make that 'chiliocosm'. That sort of puffery nauseates me, and there is an apt neologism for that sort of person: ignoranus.

                                                                        Back to those meals: lean lamb ribs simply grilled over charcoal, unadorned except for salt and its own savor, accompanied by khaboosh or baladi bread, I forget which type, and a salad of chopped parsley and onion. We could be eating a meal the ancient Egyptians ate! It was absolutely fantastic.

                                                                        The second was fresh caught Nile perch, cooked in butter, with a squeeze of lemon, and a mere hint of salt.

                                                                        The cooking of my own community in Bengal has no meat dishes save for a single goat meat from a young sacrificial animal, sans any garlic or onion. An elaborate example is offered by Chitrita Banerjee, but the real deal is much, much simpler. Other than that, it is a largely vegetarian cuisine, unlike that of urban Calcutta, and cooked without chilies, or many spices at all. This style is becoming extinct in my lifetime. You might quite enjoy a few simple dishes from this tradition. A total contrast to the very idea of modern Karachi-Lahore middle class cooking!!

                                                                        1. re: GTM

                                                                          I have a confession on Middle Eastern food. Being a chile loving Texan who has cooked desi foods for years, many years ago, I thought Middle Eastern food was terrible because it wasn't spicy enough. It just seemed so bland. Many years later, I realize how foolish my opinion was. I now appreciate the flavor of pungent fresh olive oil as a seasoning, and relish the unadulterated flavors of lightly seasoned vegetables, or tender, freshly grilled meats seasoned with little more than salt and lime juice.

                                                                          Actually, in my IL's cooking, there are many dishes with very little seasoning, especially when it comes to daals and simple daily vegetables. It is generic Awadhi branching into Eastern U.P. cooking on my MIL's side, so you may know what I mean. There is actually an art to knowing which dishes do better with no garlic or no ginger even when it comes to meats. A dish from my mother in law's home is masala chicken, also known as bin masala chicken in some other Lucknavi Muslim homes. It is just chicken marinated in yoghurt and garam masala with the tiniest pinch of red chile powder. It can be made as a saalan on the stove top, or roasted in the oven. No hara masala, no ginger-garlic, no onion. My MIL described how Punjabis snubbed their noses at it at their dinner parties.

                                                                          I have read a couple of Chitrita Banerji's books and enjoyed them very much. You should consider writing a book yourself, actually.

                                                                          1. re: luckyfatima

                                                                            I feel I have to defend Punjabi honour! Rural Punjabi home cooking is very different indeed from what one finds in urban homes and restaurants. My maternal grandmother's family derives from a village in northern Punjab, and their home cuisine is astonishingly clear and simple, and reliant on the intrinsic flavours of the main ingredient only accented by a spare use of chili and spices. Her family's garam masala blend is far simpler than most I see around - the two kinds of zeera, cloves, elaichi dana and kali mirch, and that is all.

                                                                            Not that I should impugn good hot urban food either. A Lahori katakat is a thing of beauty.

                                                                            1. re: tavegyl

                                                                              Tavegyl,

                                                                              You are 1000% RIGHT! Just like home-cooked Chinese food bears no resemblance to the "take-out" variety, we have never meant to include Punjabi food in the truck-stop dhaba variety, or the generic restaurant variety. As you may know, even the latter WAS at one time exceptionally good, e.g. the early Kwality's in India, created by the Ghai family, Shehnaz in Calcutta, and too many others to name. Not only was the resto-style Punjabi food fantastic, e.g. saag paneer, lamb, tandoori chicken, but also items like chicken a la Kiev subcontinental style, chicken cutlets, cream of tomato soup and other things cooked with great care. Even masala dosa and sambar rice with a Punjabi flair were beyond compare. Plus, they had their own superb ice cream, whose equal I have not tasted since. This was in the 50s and 60s. Owing to their real quality, this style began to be copied, and the real gold soon became devalued in fake hands.

                                                                              There is excellent reason why butter chicken, saag meat, tandoori chicken, mutton samosas, naan and a couple of other dishes form the bedrock of "Indian restaurant" cuisine. Anyone who has tasted these at the Calcutta Kwality's and compared them to the original Moti Mahal's in the 60s & & 70s, will certainly know which was the winner! Other smaller Punjabi restaurants in Calcutta were even better!

                                                                              The same story is true of the few excellent dhabas in Amritsar that serve very good dhaba style food cooked with care. Even during the 60s, there were other dhabas on the Grand Trunk road, and scattered throughout Punjab that catered to truckers and served good food; that was a far cry from the recent craze for huge quantities of oil and Amul butter mixed with ghee and passed off as "white butter". I have lived in the Delhi-Punjab region, 1970-73, Mani-Manjra and Dera Bassi outside Chandigarh to be precise, and have a good idea of what you are speaking of.

                                                                              However, may I tell you of a marvelous secret I once had in the home of a former Chief Justice of Haryana and Punjab? It was fairly warm, rich, exceedingly well-made carrot halwa [the traditional way, no compromises!!], topped with warmed light cream, and garnished with slices of home-made guava jam. Try it some day on a bitter winter afternoon, after a long spell of abstinence, when your system craves indulgence.

                                                                              1. re: GTM

                                                                                That halwa sounds delicious! I will make some with guava jam in the winter and think of you! I agree with Fatima Apa, if you were to write a book or a blog you would have many devoted readers.

                                                                            2. re: luckyfatima

                                                                              Dear Fatimaji,

                                                                              It is always a joy to read your posts, and learn a bit more about the foodways of the eastern UP Pathans. Although I have grown up with Pathans from Chhapra, Ara and Ballia districts unfortunately, in those days half a century ago, I was unable to taste much of the Muslim cooking. Nonetheless, there exist interesting settlements of so-called Pathans along river landings on the River Icchamati, that runs almost parallel to the Bhagirathi-Ganga and to its east, demarcating the India-Bangladesh border. You know these by the presence of tandoors in a Bengali landscape devoted to a cult of rice, assiduously preserving the art of making naans, and also some interesting dishes whose antecedents and histories I have been trying to find out with no success. Perhaps your ILs could shed some light on them?

                                                                              One is an egg dish but the base is fairly standard and is alleged to be "Pathan" or "Afghan" by its makers. Finely minced onions are sweated in a large amount of ghee with aromatics, and then onion paste, a hint of ginger paste, occasionally a bit of coriander paste, poppy seed paste, and nut paste in small quantities are added [sometimes not] and gently cooked until the fat is about to be released. A little water, and more cooking, plus many fried eggs with crinkly edges being floated into the rich gravy which now has released oil for a second time and is thick, almost grainy, and is sweet from the onions and aromatics.

                                                                              A small variation on this method creates the "chicken roast", a major part of any wedding feast in those parts [for wealthy families only!!].

                                                                              Regarding your bin masala chicken, a Delhiwala showed me a variation developed in the US with our fryer thighs: see how you like this fatty version sopped up with sheermal and onions rings soaked in water and dressed with some lime juice + iceberg lettuce. I think that Miansahib will relish the buttery sauce, although it is not good for his Subcontinental arteries.

                                                                              I was intrigued by the use of ground cloves and ground allspice, and was told that it was recipe he had developed out of necessity when confronted with just these two garam masala substitutes in the McCormick lineup in the bad old days in this country, which I remember only too well.

                                                                              You need some good quality yoghurt that has been left to sour a little bit at room temperature, and then beaten well. Some chicken thighs, skin on, washed and cleaned with vinegar or a bit of fresh lemon juice to get rid of bad smells. Ground cloves, ground allspice, a bit of turmeric, a bit of fresh ground black pepper, sea salt, tiniest pinch sugar.

                                                                              Put yourself into a Dutch frame of mind, re:butter. Heat plenty of Butter in a large non-stick or ss sauteuse or dutch. When reasonably hot place thighs in a single layer, uncrowded, skin up, cook at fairly high heat to brown, You do not want too much color, just incipient browning. Sprinkle masala powders on skin and turn, or turn, cook the skin side a little more if that is to your taste, and then add masala powders. Stir briefly to release aromas. Add beaten yoghurt carefully to cover, and cover chicken until almost done. Reduce until a thick buttery sauce remains, and the yoghurt has absolutely disappeared or been transmogrified into a buttery delight. This should definitely have a sour tang from the soured yoghurt, and the clove notes and then the allspice, should be prominent. Usually, cooked fryer skin is disgusting when flabby, but not here, and not in another garlic-pepper preparation. The skin should be well-cooked and almost disintegrated. And yes, this works very well in an oven, without scorching, and on a foil-wrapped pan, without mess.

                                                                              Note I have not added any chiles! I should love to experiment with the lovely yellow-orange aji amarillo of Peru [C.Alden Spices, great prices!] or some mix of anchos, etc. I am done with the flavors of the few Indian chiles I know, in their ripe, dry forms. Of course, I treasure the inimitable flavor/aroma of the Bengal soil and the fresh green chillies of certain varieties.

                                                                          2. re: luckyfatima

                                                                            For Tavegyl and LuckyFatimaji,

                                                                            Found some interesting clues on bereshta color from Hyderabad Deccan here:

                                                                            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PxdIu...

                                                                            A demo from the Hotel Bidri, part of a chain, at Hyderabad.

                                                                            I confess to a mild onion-obsession, simply because the Indian cookbook authors are either so cavalier or so wrong in their techniques in teaching neophytes from other cultures in the flavor principles of North Indian cookery. And then these new and eager students either get indifferent results, or derive a skewed taste for their home-cooked meals.

                                                                            I do appreciate Fatimaji's puting her foot down that American yellow onion's take at least 25 minutes to "brown" and not 12 minutes; the quick browning creates a coarse, ugly taste to any subsequent "curry" which a "newbie" might not realize is not the desired end result. Of course, there is a "danedar" effect, but that is for later and more advanced stages, later explanations of various traditions and styles, but not in the beginning.

                                                                            Most true shallots do have thinner bulb leaves and brown beautifully in a short period of time, but not the US yellow onions which paradoxically have very high solids and high sugar content for long storage. e.g. the cultivar Copra.

                                                                            The reason that "Bajia" gives her fried onions a quick turn in the pressure cooker is to "melt" them for her gravies, and is a direct corollary of her frying them fast and hot!

                                                                            I have this suspicion that crisp and crumbly bereshta and US yellow cooking onions, or even spanish onions are not made for each other. This arises out of experiments with oven-roasting US cauliflower [very good results] versus deep-frying or even shallow-frying, 2 very important procedures for different purposes in West Bengal. Cannot be done with the US product, not ever!

                                                                            With the Indian cauliflowers up to the 1980s, owing to the local genetics, the methods of cultivation, and the relative paucity of chemical fertilizers/irrigation which promote the expansion of cell size and uptake of water without a commensurate increase of dry mass/photosynthate, cauliflowers tended to be dense and very firm in their peduncles/flower stalks.

                                                                            When deep-fried, the flower-stalks turned a bright green and remained firm and intact, while the florets turned crisp and deep brown. Cut into small florets with long stalks, and fried in this way, mixed with fried golden cubes of potato, this was an important first course with rice and split red lentil dal in many a West Bengal/Rarhi lunch during the winter. That is not possible to duplicate with US cauliflower, nor is it possible to cook them in most West Bengal styles without their disintegrating or otherwise behaving in the most contrary fashion. Same with eggplants and tomatoes (and much else that look superficially familiar!). How exasperating! So why should onions be any different?!! lol

                                                                            1. re: GTM

                                                                              GREAT video. I thoroughly enjoyed. Thanks for sharing. I especially loved seeing the potli for the potli ka masala infusion. Kapoor kachri, dried galangal, khas/vetiver, sandal powder, dried rose petals, and a few other things, but what really gives that potli its heady perfume is pathar ka phool or lichen/stone fungus.

                                                                              http://hephziskitchen.blogspot.com/20...

                                                                              Very cool ingredient.

                                                                              I have cooked successfully with yellow onions but they produce a much sweeter result than pink desi onions, and the birishta talofying process takes a very long time, especially because I tend to fry my onions in large batches and keep them in the freezer for use. The pre-fried ones at the desi store are coated in some powder and don't break down well in food. Also, some people say that they are made of rotting onions that need to be used up. Anyhow, the American onions produce food with a slightly different taste, but as you say, all of the vegetables are different when it comes to Here versus There. I know some desis also use American purple onions because they have that strong, almost harsh taste of the desi onion, but they are also huge and watery. The garlic here is larger and less potent, too.

                                                                      2. re: GTM

                                                                        Generally speaking I've seen the second onion cooked till translucent, not browned or raw. Also, I'd cook the spices first till fragrant and till oil separates from them, then add ginger and garlic. Ginger burns easily.

                                                                        1. re: FoodDabbler

                                                                          Dabbler,

                                                                          I write about what I know and understand, just as I do about adding yoghurt in a certain way to various hot foods. You are free to add your own experiences or views, but I offer great detail and stand by them, having cooked these things with success [sometimes professionally]. As they say, YMMV. BTW, I do not dabble in meat cookery but take it seriously, and have taken years to perfect certain dishes under tutelage.

                                                                    2. Minced Lamb with Mint
                                                                      Jaffrey, p. 14

                                                                      I'm surprised I'm the first one reporting on this, because it caught my eye immediately. We thought it was delicious and unusual. The fried, crumbled meat reminded me a bit of Mexican carnitas.

                                                                      You saute cardamom pods, whole cloves, and onions in oil, then add a spice paste of onions, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and cayenne. Add the minced lamb and fry, then turn heat to low and let it cook/fry in its own juices for 25 minutes. Finally stir in chopped mint, lemon juice, and a touch of garam masala. You end up with very flavorful crumbled meat. Eat it as is or use it to stuff vegetables (she suggests stuffed tomatoes. Would be great in pita bread.

                                                                      Now I have to admit that I cut the recipe way down, from 2 lbs of lamb to 1/2 lb, and I wasn't terribly exact with the other measurements, aiming for something in the 1/4 to 1/3 or original range. It would change the recipe to make the larger amount, and I'd be tempted to use a larger frying pan than she specifies, because I really liked the extra browning all the meat crumbles got. I didn't managed to gather as much mint as called for -- even 1/4 of 2 oz of mint is a lot of mint! I could have used more, because the flavor wasn't overwhelming.

                                                                      We ate it with chard (that I sauteed with fennel and mustard seeds), brown rice, and yogurt. Simple, yet flavorful and satisfying.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                                                        Minced lamb with mint (Prudine wala kheema)
                                                                        Jaffrey page 59

                                                                        Not sure why my page number is so different than Karen's, but don't have time to ponder this question for long.

                                                                        I made this as a half recipe. I was inspired by shear amount of mint out in my garden and the ground lamb from my freezer. [I will get my next whole lamb at the end of the summer so we have to finish this year's animal before then.] But, I didn't want cooked, crumbled meat tonight; I wanted koftas or meatballs.

                                                                        As Karen describes above, one browns onions, with cardamom pods and cloves, then adds a paste. I let this paste almost dry out and then tossed it in the freezer to cool down. Once cool, I added the paste to the lamb along with the full 1/2 cup of mint and the garam masala. One pound of lamb produced 7 short sausage-shaped loafs which I sauteéd in olive oil. Though Jaffrey cautions about removing the lamb fat as the meat cooks, my lamb is so lean I knew that the oil was required. I totally forgot to spritz the lamb rolls with lemon before serving. I was starved and dinner was late!

                                                                        To eat, we put the lamb rolls in a Boston Lettuce leaf, drizzled with the yogurt salad. So very good. Absolutely would eat these anytime!

                                                                        Served with Cucumber and Yogurt Salad [Shani page 343], Stuffed Summer Squash [Plenty page 69], sitting on fresh Boston lettuce with some diced tomatoes.

                                                                        1. re: smtucker

                                                                          What a great idea to make koftas with this yummy mixture. I was thinking of picking up some ground lamb today anyhow. I see Indian kofta in my future, probably grilled.

                                                                      2. Lamb with Spinach - Dilli ka saag gosht
                                                                        Jaffrey pg 49

                                                                        This was a tasty dish. My only problem with it was that my lamb wasn't the highest quality (that's what I get for trying to be frugal), so there were some bones and bits in there I could have done without. Next time I'll buy better lamb, cut it smaller, and brown it better before adding the spinach and starting what adds up to a long simmer. I had to add a little more cayenne to make it to my taste, but with all the whole cloves, peppercorns, garlic, and ginger it was plenty flavorful. I brought it to a potluck, where it was well-received, though a little strange served alongside guacamole & fruit salad. Gotta love the potlucks :-) An easy and tasty recipe overall.

                                                                        1. Red Lamb (or Beef) Stew, Pg. 70
                                                                          Indian Cooking, Madhur Jaffrey

                                                                          Loved, loved, loved this! DH was worried that the lamb he brought home was not going to be tasty enough...the butcher had chopped up some bone-in pieces. He needn't have worried, they were wonderful.

                                                                          Make a garlic and ginger paste in the MP with a few tablespoons of water. The meat is browned in hot oil then removed from the pot (I used a Dutch oven). cardamon pods, bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns (Tellicherry), a small cinnamon stick are put into the hot oil and stirred. After a few seconds chopped onions are added and stir-fried till medium brown. The ginger-garlic paste goes in next and stirred then
                                                                          coriander, cumin, salt and a combo of paprika (Hungarian half-sharp) and cayenne are added then the meat. When the meat has cooked for a few seconds 6 T of yogurt is added 1 T at a time, blending to create a sauce with each addition. A cup and a quarter of water is now added, brought to the boil, covered and cooked on low for an hour. We took advantage of the option to bake the stew in a 350F oven for the same length of time.

                                                                          We served the stew with leftover Rice and Peas and dry-fried green beans with Indian seasonings.

                                                                          The stew was very flavorful. Frankly I thought it was more a meat dish with gravy rather than strictly a stew but it was Delicious and I'm glad we made the full recipe instead of a half. I am definitely going to make this again!!

                                                                          8 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                                            This recipe and the Lake Palace eggplant (and the spiced basmati rice) are the recipes I have made countless times when cooking from this book. This dish, with lamb, is by far my favorite of all the meat/poultry/seafood dishes in the book. We just love it.

                                                                            And, wow, Gio, you are really a trooper in this COTM project. I had to take a break this week, but I'm going back to Indian cooking next week to try to finish up the month with a bang. But I'm impressed at how many dishes you've made.

                                                                            1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                              Innit? I think we should rename her Gi-affrey, at this rate.

                                                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                Well, I just can't help myself... the recipes are so easy and as long as DH agrees to do this we'll continue. We've cooked more recipes from Jaffrey than any other COTM. Possibly BAY'A comes in a close second.

                                                                                Tonight it's the Turkey Kebabs again with a variation of that sensational (LOL) cilantro chutney.

                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                    Are you buying ground turkey or grinding your own? This is on my list of recipes I really want to try.

                                                                                    1. re: smtucker

                                                                                      SMT... I buy ground turkey at Tendercrop Farm in Newbury, (MA). It's free range, all natural..etc., etc., etc. I mix dark and white meat. So far so good and tasty.

                                                                              2. re: Gio

                                                                                Red Lamb or Beef Stew (Rogan josh)
                                                                                5 stars (on a 5 star scale)
                                                                                Indian Cooking, Madhur Jaffrey, p. 70-71

                                                                                Very good: well worth the significant preparation time. I used lamb cut from the shoulder. It ended up pretty tender. I had to de-bone the lamb myself, which was a bit of a hassle.

                                                                                Although I had some trouble with the recipe, somehow everything worked out and we were all very pleased with the results.

                                                                                First, my blender had trouble blending the ginger, garlic, and water because most of it ended up sinking below the blades. I kept having to push things around to get it to puree. The result was a mixture of liquid and pulp: not quite a paste.

                                                                                Second, the onions took about twenty minutes before they began turning brown, not the five the recipe said ought to be necessary to get them medium-brown. After twenty minutes, though they were not really yet what I'd call medium-brown, I moved on.

                                                                                Although the recipe suggests using paprika that is "fresh and has a good red color," the paprika I used was probably two years old and reddish-brown. Nonetheless, it seems things turned out all right.

                                                                                After the period of covered simmering, the dish still had too much liquid. I boiled it more, uncovered, for about thirty minutes. It didn't end up as thick as I wanted, but I was hungry and stopped then. Next time, I'll simply add less liquid (than the 1.25 cups the recipe says). The juices must've congealed overnight, as the leftovers had the perfect consistency.

                                                                                Pictures: http://indian-cooking-recipe-reviews....
                                                                                There are also a few more comments there too.

                                                                                [I've been cooking my way through this book for quite a while.]

                                                                                1. re: Mark P

                                                                                  I cook often from Jaffrey's book, and my experience is that she almost always calls for too much water, whether in making "pastes" or adding to stews. For the pastes, I never worry about it, just throw in the liquid w/bits of pulp, but when adding to stews or dishhes that need to cook down, I reduce the amount of water by 1/4 to 1/2 c., depending on the recipe.

                                                                                  But you're right: it's hard to mess up this rogan josh. Made w/lamb, it is the recipe I make most often and it is our favorite lamb recipe in the book though we are fond of several others. I think this is a great beginner recipe for Indian cooking novices. It's easy, and everyone always loves it.

                                                                              3. Lamb with spinach (dilli ka saag gosht), Jaffrey p. 67

                                                                                To make this dish, I first put 1/4 tsp. black peppercorns, 7 each cloves and cardamom pods, and a couple of bay leaves into hot oil in an enameled cast iron pot. After a few seconds, I added chopped onions (2), garlic, and ginger and cooked until onions started to brown. Then I added the lamb, 2 lbs. cubed (from a boneless leg), 2 tsp. ground cumin, 1 tsp. ground coriander, 1/2 tsp. cayenne and 1 tsp. salt and cooked for a couple of minutes. Then I added 5 T. yogurt (Fage whole milk), one at a time, stirring about a minute between each. When yogurt was incorporated, I added another teaspoon of salt and two boxes (10 oz. ea.) of thawed frozen spinach. (The recipe calls for 2 lbs. frozen spinach; last time I made this dish, I used 2 lbs.; it was too much, we thought, and the dish looked more like Spinach with lamb. This reduced amount was perfect, I thought, and the finished dish looked much more like the photograph in Jaffrey's book.) After the spinach was incorporated, I covered the pot and simmered for just under an hour (instead of the 70 minutes called for in the recipe). The lamb was plenty tender. I then uncovered it, stirred in a 1/4+ tsp. garam masala, and cooked another 5 minutes or so.

                                                                                Served with spiced basmati rice, Goan-style chicken with roasted coconut, Lake Palace Eggplant in the pickling style, Whole Green Lentils with Onion and Garlic, (restaurant-bought naan and onion pakoras), and for dessert, pears baked in cardamom-spiced cream.

                                                                                1. Cocktail Koftas (Chhote kofte)
                                                                                  4 stars (on a 5 star scale)
                                                                                  Indian Cooking, Madhur Jaffrey, p. 47

                                                                                  Perhaps because the meatballs were slightly overcooked / a little dry inside, I liked the sauce better than the meatballs. This worked out fine, as there was lots of sauce--barely any liquid boiled off. This surprised me, as the recipe implied that most, if not all, the liquid would boil off, and that the sauce would be thick, not thin. Because the dish came out looking so different from what was intended, I'm tempted to try making it again. In this instance, this wasn't a four star dish, but I have high hopes the sauce will be thicker and the meatballs not overcooked next time.

                                                                                  As for the preparation, there are many things to do, but the steps aren't hard. The only confusion I ran into was that the recipe said that after adding the paste, to cook until browned. But everything's already brown!

                                                                                  Regarding leftovers, the leftover sauce wasn't as good, but it was still decent. Also, the refrigerated leftovers had a layer of congealed fat on top of the dish. (I don't recall what I did with it when I reheated the dish to eat.)

                                                                                  Pictures: http://indian-cooking-recipe-reviews....

                                                                                  [I've been cooking my way through this book for quite a while.]

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Mark P

                                                                                    Dear Mark,

                                                                                    If you go to a good Indian store or online, in the snacks section you will find DRY ROASTED WHOLE BLACK CHICKPEAS in 14 oz packs. Please get a couple of these & reserve for ALL kofte or meatball preparations. Rub the chickpeas between your palms & hull them thoroughly. Now carefully powder the shiny golden grains. What you will get is much better than the roasted besan or raw chickpea flour usually prescribed,

                                                                                    Now, the meat should have some fat, be it poultry or red meat. Ground turkey is 23% fat already, quite close to ground beef, something people don't often realize!! Lamb is even fattier.

                                                                                    For 500 grams ground meat, 50 gm chickpea powder, 1/2 cup water, 1 tsp ground white poppyseed as thickener, 3 Tb ground fried onion, GG paste, peppercorn, fresh ground cumin, green papaya or kiwifruit, bit mace & nutmeg, bit black & green cardamom, paprika or green chili to taste, mint or cilantro, grind with as much water necessary to make tender balls.

                                                                                    Fry in ghee very carefully in non-stick pan and cook in sauce that is at least as much fat as watery stuff like tomatoes or dairy. Move very little, shake only. ONLY then will you have SILKEN KOFTE, GUARANTEED, PROMISE!!!. You need to see this technique done right in front of you.

                                                                                    1. re: GTM

                                                                                      GTM, I am so happy to see your posts. My sister-in-law is from Kolkata and reading what you write is just like talking to her mother. Thank you very much.

                                                                                  2. Beef in Fragrant Spinach Sauce, Sahni, pg. 179

                                                                                    This was really labor and time intensive but it's well worth the effort. My suggestion is to do all the prep the day before (cook greens and chop the meat, onions, garlic, ginger, and chile pepper). My mistake was to make this the day off and it just about took all day.

                                                                                    I used leftover greens from my CSA for the "spinach." First, you brown the meat (cube steak and rump round or something like that, leftover CSA miscellaneous meat). Remove the meat and place it into the baking pan. I used a 4.5 quart Le Creuset. Then use Sahni's methods to brown the onions over low heat (minimum of 20 minutes). Add ginger, garlic and spices (cumin, tumeric, coriander). Then add chopped tomatoes and the chiles. Cook until done. Lastly, add yogurt, stir and then puree. Add all this to the baking pan.

                                                                                    The directions than call for a cheese cloth packet of cardamon pods, cinnamon, bay leaves and cloves. I didn't have cheese cloth so I just threw them all in. Then you are supposed to add 4 cups of boiling water. What I did was to add water to my browning pan and I scraped up all the brown bits. Then I poured this all into the baking pan. I did wonder if I could have boiled the water with the tomato paste/sauce but decided to follow the directions. Cover and place the whole thing in the oven for 2.5 hours.

                                                                                    After it's cooked, take out the spice bag and then add the cooked greens and garam masala. Stir everything and then place it back into the oven for 5 minutes. Turn off the oven and let it sit for 10 more minutes.

                                                                                    This was so good. It had so many different flavors going on that my taste buds didn't know what to think. And, the meat came out really tender and it just worked really well with the greens. It's definitely worth trying this recipe, especially if you have miscellaneous greens and meat in your fridge and freezer.

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                      When I"m out of cheese cloth, I use one of those little mesh balls for tea.

                                                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                        Oooh. Excellent idea. Thanks MMR.

                                                                                    2. Beef [Lamb] in Spicy Tomato Gravy
                                                                                      Sahni, page 172-174

                                                                                      Delicious!

                                                                                      I didn't notice that this was not one of the masalas that was for beef or lamb until it was so late. I chose it because it is one of the few meat dishes that you also throw in the bones, and I had bones. No question, lamb is beautiful in this.

                                                                                      I used lamb shoulder and spent a lot of energy trimming the meat. I may have ended up with a tiny bit less than the 2 lbs indicated.

                                                                                      The ginger, tomatoes [I used the canned option]garlic and yogurt are put into a blender to turn into a paste. Dry the meat, and then brown in batches in vegetable oil. remove the meat, add more oil, and cook 2 cups of onions until caramel brown, about 20 minutes. Add cardamom, cloves, turmeric, red pepper and salt and fry for an additional minute. Add the tomato yogurt mixture, and continue frying until you have a paste. Add the meat back to the pot, stir to coat, and then add water and stir again.

                                                                                      This all goes into a 325º oven. Sahni says to cover with foil and then the cover, but I instead opted for Steven's parchment paper with cover. Cook for 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.

                                                                                      Due to changing plans, I ended up slipping this into the fridge overnight, and then serving tonight. Though it is called spicy, it isn't hot spicy, but highly spiced. Lots of sauce for rice on the side, and a very subtle and lovely flavor. The lamb was tender and all four people at dinner loved this.

                                                                                      Served with steamed basmati and Everyday Lentils from the same book.