Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Saag Gosht (lamb and spinach curry)


(4 servings)

Olive oil
1/4 ts black peppercorns
6 Whole cloves
2 Bay leaves
6 Cardamom pods
1 tbl paprika
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ground cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 Medium onions finely chopped
6 Garlic cloves chopped
1 Inch cube of ginger chopped
1kg cubed lamb
2 tsp salt
250g frozen spinach chopped
1/4 ts garam masala


Fry the meat until brown on the outsides, remove and then fry onions slowly until brown. Add the spices, 1 tsp salt, garlic and ginger and fry for about 1min until aromatic. Return the meat and heat until frying again, and then add the spinach. Once this has melted/wilted add about 2 cups of water and simmer for about 40min, or more.
Just before serving add Garam Masala.

Major flavour: I dont know, salty and spicy because its a curry, however the spinach sweetens it quite a bit and its generally a sweet curry. So ill go with sweet on this.

Discussion: This turned out pretty good, but it was lacking something and im not sure what. Other recipes suggest that 5 tbl yogurt can be fried into the onion spice mix, and another suggests adding tomato paste. Ill try the yogurt tomorrow night. I think this is why this didnt work, I was missing the key sweet ingredients of Garam Masala, yoghurt. I cannot get Garam Masala here in franceand I used dried ginger and joke chilli (old Cayen pepper) pretty much it was a massive slapup job :-)

EDIT: Adding yogurt did the trick with this recipie. Ill edit it later.

Hints and tips

This section will have little gems of information I have learnt, or want to learn...


'It is an ill chef who cannot lick his own fingers'
William Shakespear.

One thing that everyone should do is taste their food, firstly thats how you learn and secondly you will get the food poisoning before your guests. Its the gentlemanly thing to do.

Spyder taut me something that has made all the difference to me with tasting. We were preparing a smallish feast (40 people) with a Arabic theame. She said that each dish should contrast in the meal, something sweet, something salty, something hot, something cold, something sour, something spicy. And from this she said, taste the dish and forget what the dish is and just say "what flavored dish is this, and does it have enough of that flavour?" Does my salty dish need more salt, does my sweet dish taste sweet enough. Its so simple, but just thinking like this cuts away all the other complex flavours you are tasting and allows you to see what you should.

So items to add:
Sweet: Sugar, sugar syrope, fruit, jams, dried fruit
Sour: Lemon, vinegar (careful but), lime
Spicy: Cumin, cindamon
Salty: Salt (duh wha?), stock (vegitable is my favorite, but beef or chicken is good too), bacon, olives
too bland: This is an odd one ive often found the following are really great items for fleshing out a flavour: Corriander (leaves, not powder), stock (powdered), oil, salt, garam masala (for indian), sugar (for thai)
Crisp/fresh: Lemon juice
Hot (chilli): Chillies, pepper, vinegar (or other acid)

My meat is too dry!

Well id suggest you see a doctor!
I once cooked a stew from pork I think. I couldnt undertand it. I bought loverly meat, cooked it until it was falling appart and it still tasted dry, I had no idea. The secret is oil. Oil lubricates the fibres of the meat and will make it that loverly soft texture that we all know and love. Anyone wonder why rabit is often cooked with bacon? and its not because bacon is the universal ingredient (after garlic), its because rabit is so lean that it cannot cook properly.

Balls out there food

"WHATS THIS ALL ABOUT?" I hear you say.

This is my style of cooking and eating, 10 years as a chemist (the white lab coat kind, not a pharmacist) has effectively killed me tastebuds and sense of smell. So basically I have a very poor sense of taste. As such all the food I cook has strong flavours and marvelous aromas. I have largely found that alot of food is a bit more middle of the road than im after so im collecting recipies that over time i and others have cooked.

This is about the smells, the colours, the flavours and the passion for food.

And one of these leads to another, the smell of a fine spice mix will gets the saliva flowing like nothing else and this inspires. Something also never to forget is the appearance of food. There is no reason why a meal should ever go out without a garnish, or splash of colour. Its how we are inspired to cook, by looking at the pretty pictures in books.

Anyway, so here it goes. Just remember, im no expert, if you poison your friends with my advice, then be it on your own head myfriend.