Saturday, February 12, 2011

"Indian" Beef

Once again, I'm taking liberties with food and culture and tradition.  But aren't we supposed to take recipes and ideas and make them our own?

Chances are, most practicing Hindu Indians would not be cooking beef.  Goat?  Sure.  Lamb?  Of course!  But I have a lot of ground beef, and usually do, so that's what I use.  I also have no idea if tomatoes and peas would be found in a dish like this, but they look pretty and taste good, so why not?

This recipe came to me from a friend, and she called it "Indian Lamb and Garlic."  My friend raises sheep on her farmette and they have plenty of ground lamb in their freezer.  Me?  Not so much.  I'd sure love some, though.

So at the Sassy house, we use beef.  I've upped the amounts of many of the spices because they are so good!    I added a few more, along with more of this and less of that, and there it is - my recipe!

We serve this with some sort of middle-eastern flat bread, such as pita, naan or lavash.  There's a great bakery in our area that makes all of the above, and I can get most of them at my store any old time I want.  Another essential component of this meal is chutney!  Now that's Indian, for sure.  You can buy many different kinds of chutney at the grocery store, but I like the traditional mango type.  Major Grey is just fine.  Spicy or mild, whatever suits you.  Of course you can make your own chutney, and I have, and it's easy as can be.  There are plenty of good recipes on the web, or you could make the cranberry chutney I make at Thanksgiving.  Tangy, sweet, spicy, piquant - those are the flavors you're looking for.

Then there's raita.  That's the cucumber yogurt sauce found in India, and in other parts of the Middle East or Mediterranean it might be known at tzaziki.  I decided I liked flavors from both, so my final product is hybrid of the two.  It's a typical cooling sauce to offset the spice and heat found in Indian cooking.

This is not a traditional "curry" but most of the curry spices are found in the recipe.  Please, please, PLEASE taste this as you cook and decide which flavors you like more of, and then ADD THEM!  I personally don't like too much cinnamon, but prefer more turmeric and chili powder.  You decide :)

Tell your kids "no forks tonight" and enjoy eating this meal with your hands.  Use the bread to scoop and mop and sop, lick your fingers and then lick your plate.

And if you're like me and about half of the country right now, you may find some relief from your head cold or flu or sinus infection as you hunker over a plate of this delicious, nutritious and fragrant food.  This recipe makes plenty of food for 6-8 people (if some of them are kids!).

Indian Beef

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 very large or 2 regular yellow onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon each of the following spices (and this is just a starting point in terms of amounts):
ginger, ground
cumin, ground
cinnamon
turmeric
chili powder
coriander
salt
black pepper
mustard seed
coriander seed
cumin seed
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup frozen peas

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat butter and oil.  Add onion and garlic and cook until starting to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add ALL the spices and let them toast and heat for a few minutes.  Add the beef and cook, breaking up and allowing to brown all the way.  Drain off some of the fat if you must, but it surely isn't necessary.

Add the lemon juice and tomatoes.  Simmer for a few minutes and taste for seasoning.  Now is the time to add more heat or salt or whatever you feel it needs.  Add the peas and stir to heat through, just a minute or two.

Serve with flatbread, raita (recipe below) and chutney.


Raita

2 cups whole milk yogurt
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
large pinch of salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
several mint leaves, chopped

Stir all ingredients together.  Taste and add more salt if needed.  Allow to sit, covered, in the refrigerator for a couple hours before serving if you can.





 The raita


 I like when they do this on cooking shows!



All done and ready to serve.

My plate.  MINE!

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