Sunday, July 24, 2005
A Second Helping of Indian Home Cooking
Tonight I prepared two dishes from Suvir Saran's Indian Home Cooking: Ground Beef with Spinach and Fresh Mint (Hara Keema) and Cucumber Raita (Kheere Ka Raita).
I especially enjoyed the Raita and found that it was quite easy to prepare. I used nonfat Greek Yogurt which has a wonderfully creamy consistency that I hadn't thought possible in a nonfat yogurt. The sizing of the yogurt was a bit of a puzzle to me, though. The 500g container claimed to have 3 1/2 cups in it. I needed 2 1/4 cups for this recipe, but when I measured the yogurt using a measuring cup, I found that I actually had only 2 cups or so.
I had a little trouble with the Ground Beef and Spinach recipe. It instructs you to bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Ordinarily I wouldn't think twice about that type of vague directive in a recipe, but in this recipe a subsequent step calls for you to puree the spinach in a blender "with any remaining water". I agonized over this for a while and finally decided to put just one inch of water in my 3-quart saucepan. When it was time to puree the spinach, I had serious misgivings about putting all that water into the blender. I should have followed my gut and put the spinach and just a little of the water in the blender. But no, I had to slavishly follow the recipe. So instead of a green paste I had a watery green soup. The recipe says to add the green paste to the beef mixture and simmer for 5 minutes. Since I was adding green soup instead of green paste, it was clear I would have to cook it much longer in order to cook off all that water. I'm not sure how long I actually did cook it, but it was more than half an hour and maybe as much as an hour. The end product was still a little watery, but it was well after 10:00 and I needed to eat!
I enjoyed the dish, but not as much as the corn curry I made last week. I wonder if the long cooking affected the flavors of the dish. It was spicy hot, but the more subtly flavored spices weren't very noticeable - though I did get a blast of cardamom when I bit into a pod! I would think that long cooking of the greens in the green paste - spinach, cilantro, and mint - might have killed their bright fresh taste. Ah well, at least I know how to fix it next time!