Yesterday was my kid brother's birthday. He lives and works pretty far away from where I live, so all I could do was wish him over the phone. I would've loved to have been able to bake a chocolate cake for him and completely embarass him by delivering it myself to his workplace, because that's what older sisters are for! My brother is aware of this, and I'm pretty sure that's the reason he would rather work in polar bear country than be anywhere within driving distance from me. Clever, mon frere.
Even though he just hit the whopping old age of 24 (!), in my head he is still around 10. I think he's under the impression that he's the man now, making his own decisions, earning his own money blahblahblah. But I wonder if he knows that no matter how old he gets, I'll always be around to remind him of the days when he was this snaggle-toothed, knobbly-kneed little brat with a crazy imagination (which he used purely for evil - in particular to terrorize me)? He'd want me to forget all about his early childhood phobias, to say, homework and showers (why do little boys always reek the same way?!). Nor would he want me to mention in front of his peers about the many times where he had to wear girly make-up to go on stage for our old school's annual functions. And I'm almost positive he doesn't want me to resurrect this old picture.
I suppose right now would be a good time in my narrative to say something like, "he may have been a little monster when he was a kid, but I always loved him, and always will". Awwww. That's probably what my mother would like. But that's not going to happen, folks. Personally, I would rather gag on my own vomit.
So birthday or no birthday, my baby brother and I will continue our love-hate relationship, and be completely happy and comfortable with it. But don't feel bad. Y'see, like most siblings, we always come together in times of need, for instance, when we need to gang up on our parents and annoy them to tears.
Today I wanted to make something with spinach in my brother's honor. Ever since he was a kid he has always loved spinach. I think it was thanks to Popeye. So I thought I'd put my own spin on his love of spinach and make Palak Qeema (Ground Beef with Spinach) but with an interesting twist.
Ground Beef with Spinach and Mint (inspired by Chef Suvir Saran's recipe in his excellent cookbook Indian Home Cooking)
1 lb ground beef
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed
1/2 cup cilantro
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
3 tbsp canola oil
1 inch cinnamon stick
3 green cardamom pods
1 garlic glove, minced
1 tsp ginger paste
1 onion, sliced thin
2 hot green chillies, finely sliced (less if you don't want it hot)
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup plain yogurt, whipped smooth
1. Make a paste by pureeing the spinach, cilantro and mint in a food processor, with a tbsp or two of water. (don't go overboard on the mint otherwise the whole paste tastes bitter)
2. Heat the oil on medium and throw in the cardamom pods, cloves and cinnamon stick. After 1 minute add the onion and saute till golden-brown.
3. Then put in the green chillies, chopped garlic and ginger and cook for another minute.
4. Stir in the beef, red chilli powder, ground cumin, garam masala, ground black pepper, salt and cook on medium-high heat for 10 mins, stirring often.
5. Add half of the yogurt and mix well till incorporated and cook for another 2 mins.
6. Put in all of the green paste, mix well, and simmer for 10 mins.
7. Stir in the rest of the yogurt, cooking the whole thing for a further 5 mins. Taste for salt. Serve hot with parathas!