Saturday, February 24, 2007

A large Indian meal vaguely described

A large dinner for eleven of us tonight - good friends, new friends, and friends-t0-be. The cold outside called for warming curries. For once, I made a variety of them - not just meat but also vegetables.
First, the alu ki sabzi - potatoes cooked (uncovered) with thickened yogurt and spices - from Smita and Sanjeev Chandra's lovely, historically deep Cuisines of India: The Art and Tradition of Reginal Indian Cooking. Boil potatoes until tender, then cool them and dice them; heat grated ginger and whole cumin, add a mixture of ground cumin and coriander seeds, turmeric and cayenne, then pour in thickened yoghurt (I used the labneh we buy at Fairway and usually have at breakfast), then add some garam masala some salt, some water, and the diced potatoes; boil briefly, reduce heat, cook 20 mn,m add garam masala and coriander at the end.
While the potatoes were first boiling, I sauteed onion for gajar mutteer, peas and carrots with cumin, from my bible of Indian cuisine, Camellia Panjabi's 50 Great Curries of India. Once brown (ish), I added to them green chilli, garlic and ginger, then coriander and cumin seeds, and red chili power (forgot cumin seeds), then some tomato; then peas (frozen) and diced carrots. The whole thing cooked a while, covered.
And the simplest curry of all, also from Panjabi, cabbage with mustard seeds: pop mustard seeds, add chilli, ginger and curry leaves, then shredded cabbage (in the length), some salt, a tiny bit of sugar - cook uncovered. The mustard seeds and curry leaves - even though they were no longer fresh, indeed had dried - conferred on the cabbage an earthy, smoky taste.
It took about two hours to make these three curries. Last, I made the kaalee mirch cha mutton, lamb with herbs and black pepper, not the first time I cooked that. Came out exquisite tonight, partly because I used fresh coconut, which Marcello opened with a large hammer. There are dozens of ingredients, and the recipe is too long and too precise to write out now and here. But in fact it is easy enough to make, and only took an hour to prepare.
While it cooked, and after I'd changed, I soaked the rice - with a bit of turmeric and saffron - and made two raitas, one with cucumber and one with spinach.
To drink: too many different wines, rhough all excellent (from a Cotes du Rhone at aperitivo, to a Brunello di Montalcino, a Pic Saint Loup, and a Costieres de Nimes).
A fun, pleasant evening - and, yes, rather delicious.