Monday, January 11, 2010

Homey Food To Soothe The Soul

Why did I not just ask my doctor yesterday if he could induce me already and get this baby out?! I mean, it's not like I'm getting any sleep now. I toss and turn painfully all night long, and wake up in the morning with bags under my eyes - which sounds pretty similar to what I'll go through after the baby. So why wait anymore? I'm due in another week or so as it is. Ok ok, I need to calm down. Every baby book and website tells me that the hardest part of the ninth month is waiting, and that's simply what I'm going through. No need to jump the gun just yet - baby will be here when the time is right. Can't rush nature.

In the meantime, bloated ol' me can take some solace in puttering around the house at my own pace, cooking whatever I want, therefore eating whatever I want. I can prop up my swollen feet on the couch and watch reruns of Say Yes To The Dress. I can get manicures and pedicures - well, just pedicures in all honesty, because manicures never last more than a couple of days for me so I consider them wasted on moi. I can read and watch movies. And I can guilt DH into giving me daily back massages (who knows how long I can stay on that gravy train, so I'm milking it for all it's worth!). And I can blog, as well as read other blogs, to keep my brain cells from completely disintegrating to mush. I've actually enjoyed my pregnancy till now, so I should just try my best to keep enjoying it for as long as it lasts.

Enter this Koftay Ka Saalan, or Meatball In Gravy, which I adapted from Mona's recipe on her Hyderabadi food blog, Zaiqa. I've been making this dish for a while now, and it's a great one to turn to when it's the middle of the week and all you've got left in your pathetic excuse for a freezer is some ground beef. The flavors are stimulating because the gravy has that hot n sour thing going on, and it's satisfying for the picky meat-eater in my house (ahem, happy now DH?) as well as myself - for me, this dish is like a hug from a favorite old aunt, comforting and nostalgic.

Before I get to the recipe though, I wanted to tell you about this very special spice that I use for this dish. Mona used amchur, or mango powder, to give her dish that sour kick. But I opted for this instead - dear readers, meet anardana, or dried pomegranate seeds!
Aren't they something?! They look almost prehistoric! You should find them in any decent Indian/Pakistani grocery store. Grind them up to make a powder that will add that indefinable sourness to any sauce or gravy. But I know that not everyone will be able to get their hands on these lovelies - so no worries, because you can substitute them for freshly squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest.

Hot n Sour Meatballs In Gravy / Koftay Ka Saalan (see Mona's original recipe here)
Serves 4-5

Click here for printable recipe

Ingredients for the meatballs:
1 lb ground beef/lamb/mutton
2 tsp ground pomegranate seeds/anardana (or substitute with 1-2 tsp lemon zest)
2 tsp red chilli flakes
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
2 slices white bread, crusts removed
Method: Grind up all of the above ingredients together in a food processor, till well mixed. Then shape it into balls, about 1 inch in diameter approximately. Set aside.

Ingredients for the gravy:
2 tbsp canola oil
2 onions, finely sliced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground pomegranate seeds/anardana (or substitute with juice of a half or full lemon)
2 cloves
4 green cardamom
1 inch piece cinnamon stick
2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
2 tsp small green chillies, finely chopped
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
2 cups yogurt, slightly whipped
2 cups beef stock
8-10 curry leaves/kadi patha
Chopped cilantro for garnish

1. Saute onions in the oil over medium-high heat till they are golden. Add in the sesame seeds, cumin seeds, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon stick, ginger-garlic, and green chillies, and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle in the salt, red chilli powder and pomegranate seeds powder (if using).

2. Slowly add the yogurt and keep stirring it for 1-2 mins. Turn off the heat. Once this mixture is cool, puree it in your blender.

3. In the same pan you used, pour back in the pureed sauce. Add in the beef stock and let the whole thing come to a boil.

4. Then lower the heat to medium-low and gently add the meatballs in, one by one. Sprinkle the fresh curry leaves over the top, then cover with a tight-fitting lid and let the whole thing cook away for about 20 mins. Stir it occasionally, but be gentle so as not to break up the meatballs.

5. If you're not using the pomegranate seeds powder, then substitute it with some freshly squeezed lemon juice at the end of the cooking process - how much depends on how sour you'd like it to be, so taste as you go along! You can thicken the gravy by letting it simmer without the lid for an additional 5-10 mins if you want. Garnish with chopped cilantro. This dish goes wonderfully with any kind of bread - to help sop up that amazing gravy - or with hot basmati rice.

Verdict: DH loves this one. It reminds him of all the flavors of home, and I can say the same for myself. Hyderabadis love their khatta (i.e. sour flavors)! And although I'm no poster child for my heritage (far from it, if my mother had a say), every once in a while I really crave and enjoy those flavor combos. They're pretty fantastic actually. Hmm, I still have some of this dish left over in my fridge - why, I do believe it's lunch time! Excuse me, dear readers, but I've got to respond to my baby's hunger pangs (ah yes, another pregnancy perk - I can shamelessly blame all pigging out on the baby! How convenient!).


Donna-FFW said...

Your dish looks fantastic. I am so excited for you. Relax now if u can, you wont be able to much longer:)

Faiza Ali said...

The kofta curry looks tempting and yummmmmy...WOW !! only 1 week to go? I know the last few weeks are very doesn't get to sleep at all and I had the same experience and that too with a baby who was born 9.8 lbs(yes my son was ''9.8 lbs''..I used to find it very had to sleep or even walk in those last 2 weeks. So, just relax and best wishes with you :)

Joanne said...

The baby will come when it wants to...I promise. They tend to have a mind of their own even before exiting the womb. Either that or it's playing hard to get. At least in the meantime you're getting your fill of this delicious comfort food. And lucky thing is - if you breast feed you burn about 5,000 more calories than if you don't and so you will still get to pig out!

Seriously, this recipe looks really good. I would be comforted by it and I'm not even Indian!

Yasmeen said...

Lajawaab kofte,a definite winner on weekend lunch.
These sure are blissful moments despite all the discomforts.My prayers for your natural delivery and healthy baby.hugs :D

Anonymous said...

Delicious meatballs! Hope you get some rest before the baby comes!

sophia said...

lol, I guess look at the bright side of can still eat for two! You'll need that extra boost of hunger and metabolism when you've got that amazing dish lying around! :D

Sophie Sportende Foodie said...

OOOh,...waw!! This dish looks so comforting & so tasty too! fab food!

Still relax now, my dear Muneeba, the baby will be coming soon,...

Maria said...

The waiting is not easy, but the payoff is great! In reality, it all goes by so quickly so savor every moment.

The dish sounds great ... I had never heard of using dried pomegranate seeds. Interesting detail.

Muneeba said...

Thks Sophie .. my mum's coming tomorrow, so I'm definitely just going to kick up my heels and breathe a sigh of relief!

Mona said...

Glad you liked the recipe Muneeba.
All the best and just hang in there. Enjoy it all. My prayers are with you dear!