As much as I enjoy exploring various cuisines, I’m a little late to the party when it comes to Indian food. I’ll chalk that up to a childhood spent basically avoiding the food at all costs. When your mother abhors the cuisine, you don’t get many opportunities to try it when you’re growing up. Now I’m doing my best to make up for lost time, and that of course means trying my hand at cooking an Indian dish or two.
The first problem is where to find a good recipe. It seems that for most cuisines there are a few tomes that everyone can agree upon. If such books exist in the world of Indian cuisine, I haven’t found them. Not knowing where to turn, I decided to see what had garnered the most praise on Amazon. One name kept turning up, Madhur Jaffrey, an award winning actress and cookbook author. When I found her book, “An Invitation to Indian Cooking”, I figured it was a good place to start.
With a recipe source in hand, I now had to figure out what to cook. Since I still had some Flying M Farm ground lamb in the freezer, I thumbed to the index to find the lamb recipes. I eventually settled on a Kheema recipe, a dish that Jaffrey says is the “first Indian dish all Indian students abroad learn to make.” So I was set with my recipe for Kheema with Fried Onions, now I could start my foray into the world of Indian cuisine.
As with any recipe, the first step is culling together all the ingredients, and there are a fair number in this dish.
That’s everything and now to explain what everything is. At the top left is a ½ cup of water.
Next is two pounds of Flying M Farm ground lamb.
With all the ingredients at the ready, I now start preparing my first Indian dish.
Now the onions are fried and set aside, so I can start building this Indian version of Chili con Carne (sans the chili powder)
Next the coriander, cumin, and turmeric are added to the pot. Previous to this step, there was a no real smell that indicated that this was an Indian dish. Once the coriander, cumin, and turmeric were introduced, there were no more misconceptions.
Now it’s time to add the yogurt.
After a good 8 or so minutes of frying & stirring, the lamb has brown up and this dish is really starting to take shape.
The ½ cup of water and the last spice mix of mace, nutmeg, salt, and cayenne are added to the pan. The whole concoction is brought to a boil, turned to low, covered and simmered for an hour.
Of course, you just can’t leave this dish to its own devices. Jaffrey recommends stirring every 10 minutes, but after an hour, the dish looks like this.
Served over nothing but well cooked basmati rice, I finally tasted my first try at Indian cooking and I was quite happy. You would think that with so many flavors, it would be a mud puddle of flavors. Instead, everything worked in perfect harmony to create a simple, yet hugely satisfying dish. I can see why this is the first dish Indian students make away from home.
Now I can only hope my further explorations into Indian cuisine are as successful, but with Jaffrey’s recipes, I see smooth sailing ahead.