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October 2012 COTM: 660 Curries -- Beef, Lamb, and Pork Curries; Fish and Seafood Curries; Paneer Curries

Please post reviews for these dishes in this thread.

Beef, Lamb, and Pork Curries …. 169-234
Fish and Seafood curries …. 235-284
Paneer Curries …. 285-310

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  1. Spicy Lamb w/Yogurt, Cream, and Fenugreek (Dahi Malai Methi Gosht), p. 207

    This is a pretty easy curry, with cutting up and cubing the (boneless leg of) lamb comprising most of the work here. I marinated 1 ¼ lbs meat in a puree of ½ c. yogurt, 1 ½ tsp. kosher salt, ¼ tsp. turmeric, ½ c coarsely chopped red onion, 8 cloves garlic, 6 Thai chiles, and 3 slices of fresh ginger for about 90 minutes. (Iyer suggests anything from 30 minutes to "overnight.")

    To cook, I heated 2 T. ghee over med. high heat (in a lg. skillet) and added the rest of the red onion called for in the recipe (1/2, sliced thinly) and stir-fried it until it started to brown, about 5 minutes. I then added the lamb and its spicy yogurt bath to the skillet and cooked it until the liquid had mostly evaporated and the ghee started to separate. Although the recipe indicates this will take about 15 minutes, it took me more like 30. I then stirred in 1 c. each water and fenugreek leaves (available conveniently chopped and frozen at the Indian market) and brought everything to a boil before reducing the heat to med.-low, covering the skillet, and simmering another 30-40 minutes until the lamb was tender. At the end, I stirred in ¼ c. cream.

    This makes a greenish-gold colored curry, a little tart and slightly, pleasantly, bitter from the fenugreek. We liked it a lot (and I especially enjoyed some of the leftovers rolled into half a piece of naan for a sandwich the next day; I’m happily adding this lamb curry to my short repertoire.
    .
    We started with (purchased) onion pakora and cilantro chutney and then had our lamb curry with Slow-Cooked Creamy Black Lentils (p. 366), spiced rice (steamed w/ a pinch of saffron, a few cloves, and a green cardamom pod), naan, and a cucumber, cherry tomato, onion, and arugula salad. Thus was October COTM inaugurated.

    2 Replies
      1. re: nomadchowwoman

        I just made this Lamb with Yogurt, Cream and Fenugreek tonight as well - delicious! This was my first time cooking with fenugreek leaves and I really enjoyed their lightly bitter flavor. I used coconut oil instead of ghee, but otherwise followed the recipe (I too used the frozen fenugreek - so easy!). The flavor is much more complex than the simple ingredients would indicate, although I'm not sure the long cooking time does it any favors (I tasted it before the 30 minute simmer and I thought the flavors were brighter and clearer at that point). I think when I make it again I will use additional yogurt to finish rather than cream - I feel like it could be just that little bit more tart. A great dinner! I paired it with an improvised vegetable stirfry seasoned with the Maharashtrian garam masala (my new favorite spice).

      2. Peppercorn Shrimp with Coconut Milk (Molaghu Jhinga), p. 268

        This is another easy dish that could be put together quickly on a week night. I started with a pound of jumbos (recipe calls for large, peeled and deveined, w/tails intact) After removing the tails in deference to shell-averse DH, I tossed them w/minced garlic (6 cloves) and ½ tsp. turmeric and put them in the fridge for an hour (recipe calls for anything from 30 minutes to overnight).

        Into a lg. skillet over med.-high heat go 2 T coconut oil (or canola), to which a tsp. of black (or yellow) mustard seeds is added, cooking until they’re all popped out. The shrimp get dumped in and quickly seared. Then, a can of coconut milk is added along w/2 tsp. coarsely crushed black peppercorns, 1 ½ tsp. kosher salt, and chopped fresh curry leaves (recipe calls for ¼ c; I used half as much as that’s all my little bagful yielded once chopped). The curry comes to a boil and shrimp are removed after a couple of minutes (recipe says 3-5, but they can easily overcook, so watch them carefully); curry continues to cook until thickened (took me about 5 minutes longer). That’s it.

        I was very glad that I didn’t have the full quarter cup of curry leaves because I really think their strong flavor would overpower the shrimp and drown out the peppercorns. As it was, my husband thought this would have been better with even less, and next time, I’ll cut the curry leaves back even further. We really enjoyed the combination of coconut and black pepper with the shrimp.

        We ate this with untraditional sides—leftover wild rice tossed w/sliced scallions and carrot shreds; lettuce and cherry tomato salad w/citrusy vinaigrette—and garlic naan.

         
        1 Reply
        1. re: nomadchowwoman

          Molaghu Jhinga (Peppercorn Shrimp with Coconut Milk) Pg. 268

          This dish was very different from anything Indian I have ever tried. I expect this is because it is a dish of Tamil origin, and most of Indian dining has been of the North Indian variety. I unfortunately did not have any fresh curry leaves so I substituted dried. Not wanting to pick out the dried leaves at the end I put them in a little cheesecloth and had them simmer with the sauce for a little longer than suggested. The end result was a little on the subtle side. Not to say that this dish wasn't good, it had good balance and a nice mouth feel, and was quite appealing looking, it is just that the results were a tiny bit one note. I would perhaps go with even more peppercorn next time, and possibly the tiniest drop of acidity (lime, tamarind) to wake up the flavours a bit. The salt called for seems high but it is necessary to help perk up the subtle flavours.
          It does come together quickly, with a minimum of ingredients, and also it has no coriander or cumin, so if you are on overload with those spices this dish might be a good counterpoint.
          Overal pretty good.

        2. Tart-Hot Beef with Malt Vinegar and Cayenne (Gosht Vindaloo0 p.174

          This is indeed tart and hot not overly so. I marinated beef overnight as it was not the best beef because it came from the freezer where is has been hybernating for a while and I was hoping that a long soak will improve the flavour. I had about 3/4 of a pound and reduced vinegar, garlic and chilis accordingly keeping the rest of the ingredients the same.

          I could not bring myself to pour 2T of oil in the pan to fry onions, garlic and dry chilis and used about 2t instead. While onions and garlic cooked beautifully in the time stated, the meat took a lot longer to get dry and never really seared. I proceeded with the recipe adding salt, and corriander and cumin seeds but forgot to grind them! Added 1 cup of water as per instructions and proceeded to braise. The meat was still very tough after stated 45 minutes (as I said above, it was not the best beef) and I proceeded to braise for another 45 min or maybe a bit longer adding another 1/2 cup of water as the sauce was drying out.

          In conclusion, it was OK but I won't be making it again. It was tart and hot as promissed but other flavours did not come through strong enough for me, I did not see the point of using pearl onions that intergrated themselves into the sauce beyond recognition (a good thing) and beef and Indian food just do not go together for me. I've chosen this recipe because I am trying to use up the food in the freezer - not too wise of a choice for this book.

          6 Replies
          1. re: herby

            the grinding of the spices was an important step that would have provided depth - but part of cooking is the fun in trying and learning. Glad you are keeping at it. The cut of beef does make the difference. Also by adding the extra water to braise it longer diluted the flavors further more. Hope the explanation helps.

            1. re: 660 curries

              I would also resist the urge to cut the oil too much in Indian recipes - 2T is really not that much in the general scheme of things and I really think you need that much to properly fry onions etc for these dishes. (For those interested in these things, I did not cut the oil in either of the recipes I've made and Mr GG is trying to lose weight at the moment. I calorie counted the recipes for him and they came out at only around 300 for the chicken dish, and 200 for the cauliflower one.)

              1. re: greedygirl

                Good point, GG; will use the stated amount of oil in the next dish.

                1. re: greedygirl

                  I whole heartedly agree! As a person who has struggled with his weight off and on I used to be very very judicious with my use of fats when cooking, always cutting back on oil and butter and worrying about how much fat was going into something. I have found over time that all this fussing over fats in cooking wasn't doing much but stressing me out and usually hindering my cooking. This isn't to say I don't look pay attention anymore, and that if I see a recipe that calls for 6 TB of butter I won't try and moderate the amount, but just that if a recipe calls for a few TB or less of a given fat I generally go with the suggested amount. I have found on the whole that there has been no effect on my waist line and the cooking process has been more pleasant for me.

                  1. re: greedygirl

                    I agree that 2 tablespoons isn't really that much. It sounds like a lot until you divide it by the number of servings the recipe produces. Even people who are trying to lose weight via Weight Watchers are supposed to have a minimum of 2 teaspoons of "healthy fats" a day to aid in digestion and organ health etc. If this recipe was for four servings, then 2 TBSP divided by 4 would be less than 2 tsp and this dish would fall into the acceptable range for someone trying to LOSE weight. (And of course, someone trying to maintain a healthy weight would probably have a little more leeway.)

                    Of course, you have to be mindful of what other dishes you'll be eating at this meal and throughout the day and how much fat they have.

                    ~TDQ

                  2. re: 660 curries

                    Many thanks for these comments! I am making paneer dish tonight and will follow instructions to the T:)

                2. Cheese Cubes with Spinach and Mustard Seeds (Mathura Palak Paneer) p.297

                  This dish comes together very quickly and anticipating this I had almost all my ingredients measured and chopped. It starts by cooking spinach leaves in boiling water and shocking it as soon as it is wilted and chopping fine. Next mustard seeds are popped in oil, onions and garlic go in next to be fried with tumeric and cayenne. As soon as onions are done spinach is added along with tomatoes, salt, mango powder and Punjabi garam masala (which I prepared a couple of days ago). The sauce is simmered for 5 min and in go cubes of paneer to get warmed up. Then half-and-half is added and the dish cooks for another 10 minutes.

                  This was the best palak paneer that I ever tasted! I think it is the masala that makes it so special and next time I will add a full teaspoon instead of a half. It might spoil the dish but I have to try:) I made the recipe as written - oil and all:) - the only change I made is to use roma tomatoes instead of cherry. My tomatos were meaty and flavourful, and the cherry ones that we get are all imported from far away places and do not taste like much.

                  Now I need to search other recipes that use this addictive masala. Wonder if I can search in EYB - probably can; will give it a try.

                  14 Replies
                  1. re: herby

                    FYI, the recipes that I have flagged as interesting that use the Punjabi Garam Masala are pages 147, 223, 330, 337, 364, 483 and 517. I'm planning on making pg. 517 (a Cremini mushroom dish) tomorrow!

                    ETA - given your glowing review, I am definitely making this - Mr. Bionda won't eat spinach but he's going out of town in a couple of weeks so I know what's on the menu!

                    1. re: biondanonima

                      Many thanks, Biondanonima, for this list! I copied in on a sticky and put inside the book. I am planning to make Makhani Dal and gingered chickpeas sound good. I am travelling Oct 4-16 but will continue cooking when I am back.

                    2. re: herby

                      Wow, that's a pretty amazing result, the best you've ever had! I adore palak paneer but have troubles getting it to taste the way it should. Now I know that this recipe must not be passed by. Thanks for the review!

                      1. re: herby

                        Herby, your dish sounds delicious--did you make your own paneer?

                        1. re: nomadchowwoman

                          I did not - I bought it at my neighbourhood Indian store; they did not make it either - just one of commercial brands but was very good and firm. I've made paneer when I lived in India with lemon juice, not vinegar and it was always delicious and stayed together as it should. I have not successfully made it in NA - it always crumbles and I end up with cheesecakes instead of whatever was planned:) I blame the milk but others had success, so, I do not know...

                          The dish is really delicious and Punjabi masala is a must - very delicate flavour but definitely there.

                          1. re: herby

                            Good to know. Thanks. I think I'll follow your lead on that and get some from our Indian market, which is really well-stocked.

                            1. re: nomadchowwoman

                              Let us know how yours turns out if you make it.

                              1. re: herby

                                Will do; I'm going to try to make it this weekend.

                        2. re: herby

                          Cheese Cubes with Spinach and Mustard Seeds (Mathura Palak Paneer) p.297

                          Following herby's lead, I bought some frozen pre-fried paneer cubes from the Indian Market and then made the "best palak paneer" that now herby and I have ever tasted. But the most surprising fan was my husband, who would never order this in a restaurant and who was a bit skeptical as I was making it--he loved it; in fact he finished the entire recipe (except for two small helpings for myself).

                          I thought wilting and shocking the spinach was a bit of a pain (and I'm always dismayed by how little cooked spinach results from a pound of fresh), and I skipped chopping it, to no detriment. I also upped the Punjabi garam masala (made last weekend) to a scant tsp., based on herby's notes. I had nice grape tomatoes so I used a combination of red and yellow, which made for a lovely-looking dish. I also had no half-and-half, so I finished this (shhh!) with heavy cream, probably a generous 1/4 c.

                          The paneer cubes seemed spongier than usual, but otherwise this was a stellar dish. We had it with crispy duck legs, Gingered Red Lentils w/Garlic (p. 398), and naan. Excellent meal.

                           
                           
                            1. re: nomadchowwoman

                              Finally made a batch of the Punjabi garam masala, for a quick chicken breast dish tonight. But this palak paneer looks like my next one. (I agree -- spinach lies.)
                              I'll be so excited if Mr. blue room likes this -- he'll be skeptical!
                              Thanks to you and herby for the reports.

                              1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                Dunno if it was advised in the book, but you can put store bought paneer cubes (fried or cut from a block or however) into a dish of water and microwave for a minute or two, then strain. Or just submerge them in boiling water with the flame off for a couple of minutes if you prefer not to microwave stuff. This softens them a lot for use and helps reduce the spongy texture. Also, if they are fried, some of the oil will be left behind in the steeping water.

                                1. re: luckyfatima

                                  Thank you lf; I will do that next time. This was the first time I'd bought frozen paneer--and I sure appreciated the convenience.

                                2. re: nomadchowwoman

                                  Cheese Cubes with Spinach and Mustard Seeds p. 297

                                  I made this tonight and we also found it delicious! I used heavy cream too, as it's what was on hand. I increased the Punjabi garam masala to a teaspoon based on herby and nomadchowwoman's notes. I did fry the paneer and chop the spinach, but this still came together quickly after I finally got the spinach cleaned. We had it with some leftovers and some take out for a rather large and jumbled weeknight meal: Cheese/spinach, take-out naan, take-out butter chicken, minty red lentils, rice with cashews and mint, and some random roasted carrots with pomegranate molasses.

                              2. Pan-Grilled Sea Scallops - p. 280

                                I couldn't pass on some fresh sea scallops at the market this weekend. When I saw this recipe added peanuts and spinach to the mix, it made my decision to try it easy. Spinach isn't my boyfriend's favorite, but a few bites into eating, he declared unprompted that the spinach alone would make an excellent side dish. Adding the scallops just made this dish that much better for me.

                                To make, the scallops are marinated with turmeric. Iyer also suggests you can make this dish with shrimp or other firm fish. The scallops are seared on both sides and set aside. Chopped garlic is then browned in the skillet. Spinach is added and cooked until wilted. He suggests baby spinach. I used chopped regular spinach because that's what I had on hand. Kolhapuri masala is then added to the mix along with a little salt. The scallops are returned to the pan and covered with the greens to finish cooking. The scallops are then removed, chopped peanuts are added to the spinach, and the spinach-peanut mixture is spread over the scallops to serve.

                                This is a dish that I can't wait to make again.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: TxnInMtl

                                  That sounds amazing! Scallops are expensive in the UK though - I might have to try it with prawns instead.