I am sure some of you are wondering how we are all sleeping around here. Before I get the whine on, let me just say I have wonderful children who are improving a lot. Alex is basically sleeping through the night in her room every night (albeit on the floor). Sammy has slept through the night the last 2 nights—we put a sweatshirt on her and now I cannot help but wonder if maybe she was cold before—although she still howls like a banshee for at least 10 minutes if not longer upon being put to bed. She has actually developed a rather throaty drawl as a result.
But I am still not sleeping well.
My bio-rhythms are at odds with the world. In my ideal world I would be up very late every night, sleep in very late, and take an afternoon siesta. In a good world, I go to bed around midnight and get up around 8, and occasionally get an afternoon nap, which is what I was doing right before the move. But that kind of sleep schedule takes a lot of time and effort on my part to force my body into accepting, and it all went out the window when I was up so late with the kids after moving. And yes I know soon I will be living in a not so great world, where my kids get up earlier still to go to school. But let me live in this world as long as I can, won’t you? But back to my recently disrupted schedule.
I am back to staying up to late, feeling restless and un-sleepy before 1:30 am or so, and bleary-eyed in the morning. Blech.
I am embarrassed to admit that one of the reasons I could not sleep 2 nights ago is because my copy of 660 Curries: The Gateway To Indian Cooking finally arrived and I was up perusing it until the wee hours of the morning. Ooops. But, wee-hoo!
I am loving this book. If you like Indian food, it is economical, enticing and encyclopedic (how’s that for alliteration?). Run out and grab yours now!
Anyway, John has recently gone back on Weight Watchers, something we both did before our wedding. It was successful in the sense that we lost weight, but it was not so successful for me in that I spent a lot of time resenting the structuring of my diet around a diet if you know what I mean.I am not diet material.
But John is doing it again. When we did Weight Watchers, we always took the weekend off (and we were still quite successful, as I say). So he has asked that I try to make meals he really loves on the weekends—and IF I am thinking of making a less than healthy meal, maybe I could make sure it happens on the weekend.
So I knew when I got Raghavan Iyer’s book I was going to cook from it this weekend. And probably not something vegetarian. I decided on 2 dishes—3 if you count the chutney, but it is my recipe—one of which is vegetarian, but is meant as a side dish, and one of which is a kheema, made with ground meat. I’ll share the vegetable dish in another post.
I love kheemas.They are easily my favorite meat-based Indian dishes.To my knowledge, they are not usually found in Indian restaurants in America.A kheema is any (I think anyway) Indian dish made with ground meat (not into meatballs, but just crumbled ground meat).In my experience, different ground meats can be subbed in depending on your taste and diet considerations.I frequently see them made with ground lamb, but I almost always sub in ground beef since I prefer it.My favorite kheema is actually a recipe from Nigella Lawson, although I have liked all of them that I have tried.
Iyer’s recipe grabbed my attention not just because it was a kheema, but because, as a beef-eating Indian, he agreed with me that beef was a fabulous meat for kheemas. There is just so much flavor in beef. He recommends using a lean ground meat, but I used chuck because when buying local you frequently don’t have a lot of choices in that regard. Although grass-fed, free range chuck is probably leaner than grocery store chuck, now that I think on it.
His kheema differed also in that most of the kheemas I have seen had some tomato and some dairy (milk or yogurt). His is a bit drier—and truth be told, although I really enjoyed it, I enjoyed it with the chutney. Not sure if I would have liked it as well without the chutney. I also realized that out of habit I used a large skillet instead of the medium saucepan he suggests, which may have caused me to lose moisture as well.
A note on the spices: this post is getting too long, so I will expand on this more next time, but Iyer is keen on using the same spice in different ways in the same dish, so it is not a typo that the recipe requires both whole cumin seeds and ground.
Kheema Mutter (Spicy Indian Ground Beef)
660 Curries, Raghavan Iyer
2 T canola oil
2 t cumin seeds
1 small red onion, thinly sliced (I used 2)
3-5 fresh green Thai, cayenne or Serrano chile peppers (I used one long Thai because of the kids), to taste, finely chopped. He says to leave the seeds but I removed mine.
3 large cloves garlic, minced (I used 5)
2 T minced ginger
2 3” cinnamon sticks
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
1 lb lean ground beef
2 t coriander seeds, ground
1 t cumin seeds, ground
2 t kosher salt
1 t ground turmeric
1 cup frozen or fresh peas (I used 1 ½ cups)
2 T chopped cilantro
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add the cumin seeds and cook briefly, until they sizzle, turn reddish brown and are fragrant, about 5-15 seconds. Immediately add the onion and stir fry until limp and golden, 5-10 minutes.
Add the ginger, chile pepper, garlic, cinnamon sticks and bay leaves. Cook until caramel-brown, about 5 minutes.
Break up the ground beef and add it to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beef is browned. Sprinkle in the coriander, ground cumin, salt and turmeric and stir to coat the meat evenly. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover the pan, simmering for 10-12 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of water and let the meat simmer for 5-8 minutes. He adds the peas and cilantro at this point, but I like the green of fresh cilantro and I despise overcooked peas, so I waited to add mine until, just before serving, I heated them through (I used frozen).
Serve with basmati rice and, if you wish, a chutney. I also served with additional chile pepper flakes on the side for the adults.
Rhubarb, Apple & Raisin Chutney
1 T canola oil
2 t brown mustard seeds
1 t cumin seeds
2 small red onions, thinly sliced
2 T minced ginger
2 T minced garlic
Zest of one lemon
Juice from 1 ½ lemons
1 lbs (about 4 small) tart apples, peeled, cored and diced and stored in the lemon juice to prevent browning
1 lbs rhubarb, diced
1 cup plus 2 T dark brown sugar (start with one cup and then taste—different apples will need more or less sugar)
1 cup large raisins
1 ½ cups cider vinegar
Pinch of salt
1 t warm garam masala (warm in that it has a good percentage of warming spices like cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, etc)
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When it is hot, add the mustard seeds. When they start to pop, add the cumin seeds also. Stir to keep from burning. When the mustard seeds stop popping, add the onion and cook for 5-10 minutes, until limp and golden. Add the ginger and garlic (I would add chile peppers to taste here if I did not have kids) and stir fry another 5-10 minutes, until turning a reddish brown.
Add the lemon zest, apples in lemon juice, rhubarb, raisins, brown sugar, salt and cider vinegar. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and leave to simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and scorching, especially in the beginning. The rhubarb should nearly dissolve and the other fruits swell and soften, becoming almost mushy. The liquid will also reduce by quite a bit and become quite thick. It won’t be the prettiest stuff in the world, but yum is it good. Halfway through, taste for sweetness and add more sugar if it is too sour. At the end of the hour, add the garam masala and set aside to cool.
At this point, in addition to serving it, you can also freeze it.