Friday, September 25, 2009

Old School Cooking Never Goes Out Of Style

Amen to that! It's so true though. We've seen a resurgence of old school style cooking in recent years, for instance when that movie, "Julie & Julia", came out. It rekindled the love for Julia Child in all our hearts, for one thing. It also served to remind us that there's no shame in serving beef bourguinon or chicken provencale at a dinner party. We also see how popular TV chefs like Paula Deen and Ina Garten are, mainly because they do such a smashing job of serving up the basics with elegance and charm (ok, Ina's laugh is wee bit creepy, but she grows on you!). And remember that scene in my favorite animated movie, "Ratatouille", when the impossible-to-please food critic met his match in the shape of a perfectly executed plate of old-school ratatouille, a simple peasant dish?! It all goes to show, that our forefathers knew what they were doing when they came up with the classics. I love seeing brave chefs push the envelope with new and fancy styles of cooking, and give them props for it, but I bet even they know that sometimes nothing beats the comfort of going old school in the kitchen.

Now that's a perfect segue into talking about my Lamb Korma! (they should really come up with a "sarcastic" emoticon)

Korma is a dish common to almost all Muslim households in India and Pakistan. There are probably a million variations of it. You can make it with chicken or lamb or beef or whatever rocks your boat. It can be an everyday kind of simple dish (like my Chicken Korma Lite), by toning down the spices and richness, or it could be pumped up and become the dish your dinner guests rave about for weeks. DH's favorite version is the meat korma served at almost every wedding buffet in Pakistan - super rich, very oily, pretty spicy, and with huge chunks of tender meat swimming in it. Some of you may not get that, but it's a childhood memory thing for DH, so let's not take it away from him! It's hard to re-create that (and I don't really want to because just thinking about all that oil makes my arteries clog up), but I think I came close in flavor with this version of korma. This one's special, folks, and is meant to impress.

Lamb Korma (adapted from another brilliant Suvir Saran recipe, from his cookbook Indian Home Cooking)
Serves 4

Click here for printable recipe

Ingredients for spice paste:
10 black peppercorns
6 green cardamom pods
3-4 whole cloves
10-12 fresh curry leaves (kadi patha)
1 whole dried red chile
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup blanched almonds

Ingredients for curry:
1.5 lbs boneless lamb (or veal or goat or even beef), cut into chunks
1-2 tsp of meat tenderizer powder (optional)
2 onions, finely chopped
3 tbsp canola oil
2 tsp garlic paste
2 tsp ginger paste
1 heaping tsp ground coriander (dhania powder)
1/2 - 1 tsp red chilli powder (per your taste)
1.5 tsp salt
1/2 cup plain yogurt, whipped till smooth
1/2 tsp garam masala
3 cups water
1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
Chopped cilantro or mint to garnish

1. For the spice paste, combine the ingredients in a spice grinder and grind to a paste, using a little water if necessary. Set aside. Sprinkle the meat with the tenderizing powder, if using, and set aside for 45 mins (I did, but just because I had it on hand).

2. Heat the oil on med-high in a large saucepan, and saute the chopped onions till golden brown. Then add the ginger-garlic pastes and saute for another minute.

3. Now add in the spice paste, along with your meat. Cook, stirring often, until the meat begins to brown, 6-10 mins.

4. Follow this with the ground coriander, salt and chilli powder, stirring for another 1-2 mins. Now slowly add in the yogurt, a little at a time, incorporating it well by continuously stirring the mixture and getting all the meat coated.

5. As this mixture starts to stick to the bottom, add in the garam masala, and top the whole thing off with water. Stir well. Turn the heat down to medium. Cover and cook till meat is tender - about 30-40 mins.

6. Taste for salt! Add in a drizzle of cream just before you turn off the heat (this helps to thicken the korma, make it smoother and richer, as well as take some of the edge off the spices). Garnish with lots of chopped cilantro or mint before serving with hot naan or parathas.
Got this cute little serving dish as a birthday present from a friend - thank you Sadia!

Verdict: Deep, dark, rich, earthy and meaty. Suvir Saran very rarely disappoints with his old-school Indian cooking with a twist. I couldn't find boneless lamb, so had to go with the bone-in version, which I didn't mind, but it would've been much MUCH better with a boneless cut of meat. Next time I'll go with boneless veal, because I think that will be best. But this recipe is a keeper, because it has such lovely and complex flavor profiles, that are really easy to put together. It's satisfying and homey, while still being fancy and elegant. Ah .. regal .. that's the word I was looking for!


Sophie Sportende Foodie said...

I love a good lamb korma,..


Foodiewife said...

Wow! I am inexperienced in cooking with cardamon, but I would so love to have a taste of this. What a beautiful and aromatic blend of spices! Truly, this is a beautiful dish that I would imagine makes the lamb taste out of this world. Wish I lived closer so I could show up at your door.

Jennifer said...

Wow that is a beautifl dish, I just recently found that I like lamb!

Doppelganger said...

Oh we know what you're talking about! Korma! I can just imagine how amazing this must have smelt; the aromas of the spices mingling with the lamb. I'm definitely giving this a try. So far none of my korma-making efforts have been rewarded, but I have a feeling this one could be a winner! It doesn't have that awful step of goldening the sliced onions and taking it out and then adding it in later, blah blah blah. And the serving dish is very pretty! You have lovely friends. :)

Amna said...

The serving dish is pretty! Do try the boneless veal...Ive used it many times, and it comes out great!
How was the movie though? Did you watch it yet?

Kerstin said...

Oh wow, this looks amazing! I love all the ingredients and layers of flavor!

Duchess of Tea said...

Darling, I came by to wish you a lovely and sunny weekend.

Love & Hugs

Joanne said...

I love korma - it is definitely one of my favorite Indian food dishes. Alas, I still have not gotten around to trying my hand at Indian food yet (tsk tsk to me). This is enough of an incentive! And yes, there is definitely something nice about cooking tried and true dishes that people have cooked for decades. There must be something to them if they have stood the test of time.

Parita said...

So true!! I love to have simplicity and elegance in my food, julia and julie is really an inspiring movie and after seeing it i felt alive!

Cathy said...

Beautiful dish Muneeba! I made a lamb korma last year that was just so-so...I'll have to try your recipe.

Malar Gandhi said...

What a wonderful preparation, can't wait to try this the color. I hardly find lamb wish to try the same with chicken. Will let know, how it turned out to me.

Anonymous said...

Excellent recipe for lamb korma! I can't wait to try it!

Duchess of Tea said...

How did I miss this post on Friday? Darling, this dish has all my favourite spices, cardamom, cloves, curry and chili and of course lamb. Yummy. Any left my luv? Darling, have a lovely day.

Love & Hugs

Erica said...

That is a great recipe! I don't like lamb, but I think could be delicious with beef.

Sweta (My Indian Dietitian) said...

That's such a mouth watering korma-now I only wish I could get lamb easily out here.
I remember back in India,we used to wait eagerly for the biryani's, mutton curry's and the other yummy goodies that would arrive from our friends and neighbours places on Eid. We used to get so much that my mom never had to cook for two days!!I miss all that now.

desperate.viz said...

Hi, I'm Viz, I came here through Tastespotting.

This recipe is great, I love lamb! I hope to try this soon!

See you soon