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!


BULLSEYE said...

Your blog rocks!!!

Christopher Trottier said...

Yummy food, I must say.

Cerebrum said...

There must be something in the air - Barbara (Tigers & Strawberries) just made a gorgeous looking tart, following the recipe to the letter, even though her gut feeling told her to change some things - and the result turned out to be a concrete-like crust!

Anyways - I like the look of that meat, all dark and well - meaty... Worth making some adjustments to, perhaps!:-)

Cathy said...

Thanks guys!

Hi Zarah - I'm so tempted to email him and ask what the deal is with that recipe. It just can't be right - or maybe I'm not understanding something. Anyway, I do think it would be better if not cooked so long. The meat smelled heavenly as it cooked with the cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, etc. - definitely worth another try!

Cathy said...

Hi AG! - I know, I just don't get it! Regarding following a recipe, you're right and I wish I could say I've learned my lesson and that I will follow my instincts next time! Maybe...

Nupur said...

Wow you are really becoming an expert in Indian food! Thats great :) I am sure the spinach curry will be much better next time once u make a thick paste of the spinach. Go Cathy!

Cathy said...

Hi Nupur! I think you might better call me an aficianado! Thanks for the support - I may turn to you the next time I have trouble!

Anonymous said...

I am sorry you had trouble with the recipe.
WIll have to lay my hands on the book and see why this happened.
I teach across the US and overseas. This is one of the recipes that I teach maybe 70 percent of the times I teach.
Especially when we do hands on cooking classes.
Students never seem to have trouble with it.

Is the photograph you posted from what you prepared that night?

Curious here... let me know.. and I can then tell you more.

And thanks for cooking from the book.

The Corn Curry is another all time favorite, but the spinach and meat recipe perhaps is in the top 5 most cooked recipes from the book across the US.

I am sorry I failed you and the book as well.



Cathy said...

Hi Suvir - thanks so much for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. First, I have to say I love the book and had no trouble with the other two recipes I tried. Also, that corn curry is truly out of this world. I haven't cooked from the book recently, but that has more to do with being busy lately than anything. It is a beautiful book, and one I will definitely cook from again.

It's been over a year since I tried the ground beef and spinach recipe, so my recollection of things is based on my post and rereading the recipe. You asked if the photo was of what I prepared that night - yes it was, and you can see it was a little watery. I really should have known better and not included all that water. My guess is I should have drained the spinach before putting it in the blender.

The spinach and ground turkey recipe which appears to be very similar says "Bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the spinach and stir. Cover and steam until fresh spinach is wilted or frozen is thawed, stirring every now and then, about 5 minutes. Drain, cool under cold tap water, drain again, and then puree in a blender or food processor; set aside."

The spinach and ground beef recipe says "For the green paste, bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the spinach and stir. Cover and steam, stirring every now and then, until wilted, about 5 minutes. Puree in a blender (with any remaining water) along with the cilantro and mint leaves. Set aside."

It's that "with any remaining water" that got me.

By the way, you mentioned that the spinach and beef recipe is among the top 5 favorites in the book, I'd be curious which others are. It's always so hard to narrow the field!