Tuesday, March 31, 2009

PACE Food Swap Day Three: Indian food

well, it was my turn for the food swap, so I made something simple that I could make in bulk: turkey keema, cauliflower & scallions with mustard seeds and urad dal, and cucumber-onion-lemon salad. some parathas fried up on the side rounded out the meal.

for the salad, I broke out my mandoline and sliced red onion into paper-thin circles. I repeated the procedure with a Meyer lemon, and then peeled a seedless cucumber and cut it into thicker circles (I didn't want them to pickle completely if they were too thin). A simple dressing of a little bit of vegetable oil, a splash of cider vinegar, some salt, and some Meyer lemon juice rounded it out. I was worried about convincing the others to eat the lemon slices rind and all, but they gamely did so without complaint. it was pretty good! Prado hates cucumbers and he even nibbled at it.

I have made cauliflower & scallions dozens and dozens of times, and I think I get a little better each time (in terms of determining the proper tenderness of cauliflower, size of the florets, amount of oil and salt and pepper, etc.). this batch came out very well--I went all out, including kari leaves (although mine are getting a bit old and not-flavorful...). I skimped a bit on the chiles, but I think nailed a hotness level that pleased everyone.

I figured I'd do a step-by-step of the keema, because it's so easy to make and I always end up telling people how to do it. this is NOT the way Priya's mom makes her keema--I think she uses a masala, and peas, and hers comes out moister, and...well, this is a different keema, ok?

start with everything ready next to the stove, for ease of use. nasty-looking ground turkey (I made 3 pounds for 5 of us and we still had a bunch left over), around 2 cups of onions per pound of meat (I like a lot of onions), and a hefty amount of garlic, ginger, and green chiles all chopped up together (maybe 2tsp garlic per pound of meat, and a tbsp or more of ginger per pound, and as much chile as you want). I use the jarred ginger and would happily use the jarred garlic as well. I also made a little dish of turmeric and kosher salt (a decent pile of salt, and maybe 1/4 to 1/2 tsp turmeric per pound).

put a few tbsp of vegetable oil in a pan over medium-high heat, let it get pretty hot, and then add the onions. stir constantly until quite brown, like you might think they are about to burn and get dry and twiggy (but not quite there yet). maybe 10-20 minutes, depending on your quantity of onions.

add the garlic/ginger/chiles and cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes or so, until they are starting to soften. the onions are browning even more by this point:

add the ground meat (chicken, beef, or turkey all work great--even Quorn grounds) and mix up until browned. This will take a while and be very annoying, because you have to keep breaking up the chunks of meat.

add turmeric and salt, stir to mix; then add some water (1/3 cup? or so? really, you have to eyeball it), mix more, then cover and reduce heat and simmer until done (15-25 min?). near the end take off the lid and make sure the water has all cooked away--if not stir until it's gone. it should be pretty dry.

when you're done, splash in some lemon juice, a lot of garam masala, and some chopped cilantro. stir it all up.

tear off pieces of bread and eat! or you can roll it up into Indian burritos (maybe adding some yogurt or mango chutney if you need a topping. Prado pioneered adding the cucumber-lemon salad to his Indian burrito. I didn't try that).

oh, this was not part of the food swap meal, but for dessert the night before the swap, I had a sapodilla from the coop...grainy like a pear, eaten with a spoon out of its tough nasty skin like an avocado, extremely sweet/sugary but with a pretty light/shallow flavor...decent, but not amazing.


p-nut said...

masala just means the mixture of onions, garlic, and ginger you cook forever to use as the base, so i think yours starts with a masala too...
but ours is different b/c it contains yogurt, tomatoes, and several different spices... as well as the peas! technically what we make is called keema mattar (mattar=peas).
the pic of your lemon/cuke/onion salad is making my mouth water...
did you use the digital camera for these? maybe you should set it at a lower resolution -- it's making the site load much slower...

alex said...

I used the new Yearbook camera for this and it was set at super-huge high-res. I reconfigured the pictures and it should load a lot faster now.

oh I thought the masala involved the pureed/finely chopped onions, as differentiated from the slices I use...cool!