Tag Archives: rice

Julie Sahni’s Gosht Kari

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I’m not big on cookbooks.  I know, I know, it’s the same complaint we all have.  I love looking through them, and I daydream about having bookcases filled with cookbooks.  But those daydreams generally go like this: leisurely flipping through a couple of cookbooks while enjoying a late morning cup of coffee and Tartine croissant, and then casually spending the rest of the day shopping for and cooking whatever I picked out that morning,  then upon serving the meal to friends and loved ones, having it gushed over and praised to high heavens during a cozy family meal. Not exactly reality.

The reality is that when I check out a cookbook from the library or actually purchase one and bring it home, I rarely make it beyond flipping through the pages and reading the headnotes.  I’ve been known to make a list of the recipes that look good and copy down ingredient lists and instructions in shorthand out of library books, usually when the book is already 2 or 3 days past due and I’m feeling guilty about not cooking from the book in the last 3 weeks, let alone returning it on time.  Or when I’m feeling guilty about the books I’ve bought and never actually cooked from, I’ll bust out the little sticky flags and mark what looks good- but I usually don’t try more than one or two recipes, even if they’re great.

What’s the deal? I’ve decided I’m stuck in a vicious cycle, one that  most of us find ourselves in now and then: kitchen comfort.  We become content with the repertoire of meals we’ve amassed that not only fall within our resource constraints but that our family will readily eat.  We’re secure in the same list of the ingredients to add to the unwritten weekly shopping list, the ability to fall-back on old favorites on a Wednesday night when you walk in the door late and everybody’s hungry already.  Cooking becomes easy.  As the wife of a picky eater and a woman who refuses to eat most prepackaged and processed “foods,” I’ve struggled over the last few years to expand my List of Acceptable and Realistic Suppers.  Picking up a cookbook and flipping to a new recipe might entail ingredients I don’t already have in the cupboards or that we won’t eat, or flavors that we might not like.  I’ve become lethargic, and who wants to cook when the words “supper” and “boring” become synonyms?

So in this context of boredom and hesitance, thank goodness somebody mentioned Julie Sahni.  Seriously.  I’ve been hugely lacking in cooking inspiration and motivation, and this woman delivered exactly the swift kick in the you-know-what that I needed.  I picked up Classic Indian Cooking at the library last week and spent a few evenings flipping through the pages, trying to pick out a recipe or two to try over the weekend.  I wanted to stick with something fairly basic, which is always hard to discern from looking at ingredient lists for most Indian cooking – so many spices and aromatics!  The first one I picked was Gosht Kari, or meat curry, which boasts a relatively short list of ingredients, all things I knew I could easily get.  I made a quick trip for ground coriander and fresh cilantro, but otherwise had the rest of the ingredients already.

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The recipe starts with familiar actions: browning of beef, chopping of onions, mincing ginger and garlic.  “I can handle this,” I told myself, feeling a boost of confidence at the rhythms of the familiar.  As onions turned from white to pale to golden, I measured out fragrant spices.  As the dish started to come together, the smell was almost breathtaking.  These were smells that I’d never had coming from my own kitchen!  While the braise simmered on the stovetop, I peeled potatoes, sipped a glass of wine, soaked the rice.  Before I even tasted it, I knew it was going to be amazing.  The mix of confidence and novelty was coursing through me.  I was excited.  And better yet, I was salivating.  It smelled delicious.

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It also didn’t hurt that the meal was utterly fantastic.  Warm and hearty textures and a complex flavor profile.  I had to have more.  The next day, I flipped open the book again and settled on Mughalai Korma, or Moghual braised chicken, with saag to accompany (pictured above).  The mix of ginger, cardamom, cloves, and coriander in the chicken sounded intriguing and delicious.  Again the process felt comfortable, and again the smells from stovetop were phenomenal.  It goes without saying that all three dishes were great.  Honestly, the saag was my least favorite; I’m not a huge fan of cooked spinach, but the combo of cumin seed and garam masala was quite nice, and the potatoes were decadent.  In any case, two out of three keepers is hardly failure!  Both the chicken and the beef dishes will be made again in very soon order, and this book is going to be added to my bookshelf pronto… only this time, I don’t intend to ignore it.

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Julie Sahni’s Gosht Kari
very barely adapted from Classic Indian Cooking

Serves 6 as a main dish with rice, or 8 with side dishes

8 tablespoons ghee
3 pounds boneless beef or lamb, trimmed well and cut into 1-inch cubes
2-3 meaty beef or lamb bones (I used the bones I cut out of my roast along with an oxtail)
4 small onions or 2 large onions (about 4 cups chopped)
4 cloves garlic (about 4 teaspoons minced)
3-4 inches fresh ginger (about 3 tablespoons minced)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1-15 oz. can diced tomatoes, or 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 pound of potatoes, about 4 medium-sized
chopped cilantro for serving

Place a heavy-bottomed pot on medium-high heat with 4 tablespoons of ghee.  While the oil is heating, pat the meat cubes dry to help browning.  Once the oil is very hot, brown some of the meat cubes, being careful not to crowd the meat (this will cause steaming instead of browning).  Brown the meat in batches, removing browned meat to a plate with a slotted utensil.  Once the meat is browned, add the bones to the pot and lightly brown them as well, then place them on the plate with the meat.  While browning the meat, finely chop the onions.

Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of ghee to the pot and scrape the bottom to release the stuck on bits of meat.  Add the onions and brown them, stirring frequently to avoid burning and sticking.  While browning the onions, mince or grate the garlic and the ginger, and measure out the cumin, coriander, turmeric, and red pepper into small bowl.  Put a kettle with about 5 cups of water on to boil.

When the onions are a dark golden brown, add the garlic and ginger and fry for a minute, stirring almost constantly.  Add the spices and continue to fry and stir vigorously for about 30 seconds.  Return the browned meat and the bones to the pot, pouring in any juice that the meat had released onto the plate.  Also add the tomatoes, salt, and 4 cups of boiling water; stir to combine.  Bring to a boil; then cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally

While the dish is simmering, peel the potatoes and cut into quarter (for medium potatoes), or approximately 2 x 3 inch pieces.  (If serving with rice and forgoing the resting time, this is also a good time to rinse/soak your rice.)  After 90 minutes, add the potatoes and stir; then recover and continue to simmer for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes and meat are both tender.  Julie says to let the dish rest for at least 30 minutes but preferably 2 hours; I was starving by the time it was ready and let it rest for a mere 15 minutes and it was fantastic as-is.  Before serving, remove the bones and check for salt, then reheat to a simmer.  Serve with rice and/or bread and chopped cilantro.  Leftovers are even better in the following days, though Julie suggests freezing if not eating within 3 days in the refrigerator.

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Filed under Clean Eating, Fall, Gluten-Free, Main dishes, Winter

asparagus risotto

 

This is not just a risotto with some asparagus pieces thrown in at the end- oh no.   This is a risotto swimming in miniscule flecks of asparagus, fully immersed in green and spring.  It’s my favorite kind of asparagus recipe- the kind that embraces the use of the entire stalk.  Instead of throwing out the tougher ends of the stalk [or adding them to the finished risotto to be picked around and pushed off to the side], we cook them a bit and then puree, producing a bright-green bubbly liquid.

Then this asparagus puree is stirred into the risotto, alternated with the traditional chicken stock, stirring and coaxing each little grain of rice to absorb as much of the asparagus- its flavor, nutrition, color- as it can.   A very asparagusy risotto indeed! 


Asparagus risotto
adapted from Mario Batali

Serves 4-6 as a side; 2 or 3 as a meal

1/2 to 3/4 pound asparagus stalks
3 to 4 cups chicken stock
1 shallot, diced
1 T. butter
2 t. olive oil
1 cup short-grain rice
3/4 cup white wine
salt and pepper
freshly grated parmesan for serving

Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Meanwhile, wash asparagus; trim off tough ends and discard.  Chop into 1-inch pieces, setting aside the tips and the pieces from the top two-thirds of the stalks.  Once the water is boiling, toss in the pieces of asparagus from the bottom third of the stalks.  Boil for 4-5 minutes; drain all but 1/4 cup water.  Puree aspargus and 1/4 cup of water in a food processor or blender; set aside.

Place chicken stock in a small saucepan and keep over medium heat.  In a heavy-bottomed skillet, melt butter and oil over medium heat.  Sautee diced shallot for 1 minute, then add raw, unrinsed rice.  Sautee for 4-5 minutes, then increase heat to medium-high.  Add wine and stir while reducing. Once wine is mostly absorbed, add the hot stock in 1/2 cup increments, stirring almost constantly.  Wait to add more stock until the rice has absorbed nearly all of the liquid.

Once 2 cups of the stock have been added and absorbed, alternate adding 1/2 cup of the asparagus puree and 1/2 cup of chicken stock, again allowing the rice to absorb almost all of the liquid before adding more.  At this point, check the rice frequently, wanting it to be cooked but with a bit of an al dente bite.  Once the risotto is creamy and the rice is fully cooked, season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with parmesan.

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Filed under Clean Eating, Gluten-Free, Main dishes, Side dishes, Spring, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Arancini

Arancini, or arancini di riso, are leftovers combined with street food.  Sure, they’ve got a “fancy” name, they’re a perfect appetizer or small plate for a dinner party or holiday gathering, and they taste complex with an exciting, cheesy surprise in the middle.  But in reality, arancini are the most effective way to use up leftover risotto.

One night in the fridge can turn creamy, delicate, filling risotto into a sticky, goopy, nightmare.  That’s all it takes.  And when you’re cooking for one or two or making it as a side, the fact that it makes horrible leftovers is a huge deterrent from spending the time it takes to make a good risotto. 

Which is probably why I like arancini so much- it helps me justify the 45 minutes spent making delicious risotto instead of putting my clothes away or cleaning off the dining room table, because I know that in a few days I can use up the leftovers for crispy, cheesy arancini.  Win-win, people.

I’ve made and enjoyed “traditional” arancini with ricotta or mozzarella in the center and coated in bread crumbs, but I prefer a stripped-down version with a bite of cheddar.  For this batch I used a cheddar that was made in our backyard (not literally)- Cow Caviar of Chippewa Falls, WI, who buys milk from small organic family farms in the area to make their cheese!  This cheese really exceeded my expectations, and it melted wonderfully in the arancini.  I think that any creamy, melty cheese would work fantastically in arancini, be it untraditional.

Arancini
adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

2 c. leftover, cooled risotto
2 eggs
1/2 c. flour + 1/2 flour for rolling
1/2 c. grated parmesan or romano
2 oz. cheese, such as mozzarella or a creamy cheddar, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 T. oil
salt and pepper

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs to blend. Add the risotto, flour, and parmesan, and mix well to combine (I use my hands).  Place the 1/2 c. into a wide shallow dish.  Roll about 2-3 tablespoons of the rice mixture between your palms; insert a cube of cheese into the ball, and then roll in flour.  Repeat until all the balls are prepared.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high until hot and shimmery, and reduce heat to medium.  Add the rice balls in batches and cook until golden brown and heated through to melt the cheese, turning as necessary.  (Mine get a bit flatter- almost like crab cakes- but that’s okay with me!)  Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and let rest on paper towels.  Serve warm with marinara for dipping (optional- we eat them plain).

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Side dishes

Leek Risotto

Yes, leeks are a spring food.  But they’ve got a fall season, too.  (This makes me automatically love leeks, and rhubarb and spinach too- I get them on both ends of the growing season.)

Until this summer, I had never cooked with leeks.  Sheltered, I know.  My first leek experience was to saute some of these in butter, sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper, and splash some white wine over the top. The sweet, grown-up flavor was shy yet undeniable. Leeks are the middle child, stuck between well-rounded, know-it-all onion and spotlight-loving and spicy garlic. They’re refined, quieter, gentler.

I ate leek risotto throughout late May and early June.  And when I found leeks at the very last farmer’s market of the season, I was thankful- one last leek risotto before hibernating for winter.

Leek Risotto
adapted from Daily Unadventures in Cooking

Serves 4

4 T. unsalted butter
3-4 small, tender leeks, cleaned
kosher salt and pepper
1 c. arborio rice
1 c. white wine
4 c. chicken or vegetable stock
2 T. lemon juice
1 c. grated parmesan (I used parm and romano)

Clean up your leeks: trim off the bottoms and the dark leafy green tops, and cut in half lengthwise. Run each half under cold water, making sure to rinse out any sand or debris in between the layers of the leek. Shake and/or pat dry, and then cut into small semi-circles, about 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick.  Loosly separate and lay on a towel to try out a bit.

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat; add leeks and stir lightly. Keeping heat at medium or lower, cook the leeks for about 5 to 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes until they barely start to brown.

While the leeks are cooking, pick over your rice for debris. Place your stock in a medium pot, cover, and heat over medium, just to bring the temperature up but not necessarily boil. (If it simmers, that’s fine, but it doesn’t need to- we just want it warmer than room temperature, as it will help make a faster and creamier risotto.)

Once the leeks are wilted and beginning to lightly brown, add the rice and stir. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook at medium-high, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes.  Add wine and bring up to a simmer. Continue stirring until the wine is reduced almost completely.

Add a large ladle of stock, between 1/2 and 3/4 cup. Bring the mixture up to a simmer and continue stirring almost constantly.  Cook until almost all of the liquid is absorbed or evaporated before adding another ladle of stock. Continue this process until the rice is cooked al dente (with a slight bite to it) and most of the stock has been added and evaporated. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and cheese.

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Filed under Fall, Main dishes, Side dishes, Spring, Vegetarian