Beef with Green Masala uses bright cilantro and fiery peppers to create a complex and herbaceous masala paste that perfectly complements the umami of red meat. A copy of Regional Indian Cooking was sent to me by the publishers for the purpose of an honest review. Affiliate links have been used to link to items I am discussing.
There is a rhythm to blogging and without a doubt my rhythm has faltered this last year. However, unlike, say, exercise, I love blogging so I keep popping in when I can. The fact that I was gone for the last three weeks did not help, but I will talk more about that next time as I do not want to detract from the awesomeness that is Regional Indian Cooking: Simple and Healthy Ayurvedic Recipes [Indian Cookbook, Over 100 Recipes].
The publishers contacted me last fall to ask if I was interested in reviewing Regional Indian Cooking, and I definitely was but I had also just received the thyroid cancer diagnosis so I warned them it would be a while before I got to a review. And alas, it was a while, but guys I loved this cookbook. At this point I must have over 40 Indian cookbooks, so it can take a lot for me to sit up and take notice of one. This book definitely did catch my interest. The recipes are not too simple (“5 ingredient” Indian recipes drive me nuts–the rich complexity of spices in Indian dishes is exactly what makes them so fabulous!) but they are also not too complicated, and there are plenty of flavor combinations I have not seen elsewhere. Like most Tuttle titles, the focus is on authenticity and accessibility, not amazing photographs or binding, but that makes their books all the more affordable.
As a cilantro aficionado, I was immediately intrigued by the Lamb in Green Masala. As originally written, the dish is an appetizer and of course is made with lamb. So my first changes were to double the recipe to become an entree (who has time to make a starter!?), use the cheaper and more easily obtained beef, and add mushrooms just because we are mushroom obsessed as longtime readers know. Otherwise I made this pretty closely to as it was written–and I did write the recipe in starter portions, but you can double it if you want to do what we did.
One other change I made, that I pretty much always make, is to brown the meat first, before working on everything else. I think it gives a savory flavor to the cooking fat that everything else proceeds from and of course it browns the meat better, caramelizing the sugars in the meat. Another predictable change for long time readers is that I subbed out about two thirds of the hot peppers and used yellow bell peppers (to maintain the integrity of the green in the sauce) because my girls would have trouble eating a dish with ten hot peppers! Whatever substitutes you do make, make sure they work with the bright green cilantro. For example, do not use red onions or red peppers, as they will turn the sauce brown.
Closely adapted from Ajoy Joshi and Alison Roberts; double the recipe for an entree curry instead of starter.
- 1 bunch cilantro, all parts roughly chopped including roots if possible
- 1 medium white or yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 4 serrano chile peppers, seeded and chopped
- 2 sweet yellow bell peppers, chopped
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger, cleaned and chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 inch piece cinnamon stick (I used Ceylon)
- 2 green cardamom pods
- 1 t coriander seeds
- 1/2 t ground turmeric
- 1 lb beef stew meat (lamb will work also), cubed
- 1 t coarse sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1 t freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 t ground turmeric
- 1/4 cup ghee (butter can substitute)
- 1 large yellow or white onion, chopped
- 1 lb sliced crimini mushrooms (optional, better if serving as entree)
- 1/4 cup chicken stock
- 1 lime
- full fat yogurt, for serving
- lime wedges, for serving (I used lemons as it was all I had)
For a standard food processor, place everything except the spices into the processor and blend. Grind the spices in a spice grinder and add to processor to blend completely.
If you have something like a wet dry grinder or a high performance blender, place everything into the blender and blend until smooth.
Whisk together the 1 teaspoon of salt and freshly ground black pepper with the turmeric. Rub all over the beef and let sit while you make the green masala paste.
In a heavy pot such as a Dutch oven, add the ghee and melt over high heat. When it is hot, add the beef cubes and brown on all sides, in batches if you have doubled the recipe for entree portions. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Lower the heat to medium low and add the chopped onion with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and golden, about 10-15 minutes. Then add the mushrooms with another pinch of salt (if using) and stir until they have released their water and are starting to brown.
Add the chicken stock and deglaze the bottom of the pan, scraping up all of the tasty browned bits. Add the beef cubes back into the pot including any juices.
Bring the curry to a simmer and then partially cover the pot and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until the beef is tender, about an hour.
Stir the curry. Add the green masala paste and stir to incorporate. Raise the heat to continue a gentle simmer, only this time uncovered, and stir frequently. Cook, stirring, for 10 minutes.
Taste for salt and add the juice of one lime. Serve with yogurt and additional lime wedges.
As a starter, serve just the beef or with flatbread, but as an entree I liked this over Basmati rice.
I was surprised this dish was listed as a starter and automatically doubled it for an entree. It was delicious either way, but would definitely be filling as a starter!
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