Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Comfort food and lamb stew

How do you define comfort food? Its a coversation I've had with multiple people without finding any conclusive answer.

For me the definition of comfort food is something that would bring a smile to your face even before tasting it, something you would crave for when you are depressed or maybe after a long day at work.

One of the foods that has consistantly satisfied the criteria above is lamb stew with khichdi. At home we prefer to call this haleem and that is different from the pakistani version of it.

Its primararily a lamb and vegetable stew dunked into a lentil rice. For the meat i prefer to use lamb neck bones. This cut is cheap ( 2-3$/lb ), easily avilable ( safeway has it in their meat section ) and a pound and a half of meat is enough to satisfy 3 people. I pressure cook this to make it an everyday food but this could very well be done in a dutch oven.


1.5 lb lamb neck
1.5 tb spn ginger & garlic paste
2-3 bay leaves
6 pearl onions peeled
6 small potatoes ( fingerling or similiar ) peeled
8 florets of cauliflower ( this would be half a head of a cauliflower - ea floret being no more than an inch )
40 fluid oz of water.
10 mint leaves
4 thai hot peppers ( can be substituted with other chiles or amount varied to suite your taste ) - roughly chopped or broken
1 tsp of salt
1.5 tsp ground corriander (seeds)

For roux
1.5 tblspn white unbleached flour
1tsp cumin seeds
1tsp garam masala
1tsp black pepper
2tblspns vegetable oil

For lentil rice: Khichri
2cups Sona masuri( find this in an indian grocery or use thai jasmine if not available )
1/2cup yellow Moong daal
1/2cup red lentils ( pink masoor daal )
1/4 tsp tumeric ( haldi )
1 tsp ghee

Wash & soak rice and lentil mixture in water ( until fully covered ) for half hour. Then transfer to a heavy bottom pan or saucier. Remove existing water and add in 3 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil (high heat) and then turn down the heat to a simmer (low heat) for 16-18 mins or until the rice is aldente. Add ghee and fork the rice.

For the soup:
Wash the lamb. Then allow to marinade in salt and ginger garlic paste. In a pressure cooker, add the lamb and the rest of the ingredients ( first set ). Close the cooker, turn up the heat to med-HI and allow the soup to cook for 40 minutes.

To prepare thr roux:
In a heavy bottemed pan ( large ) heat the oil and add in the cumin seeds. Once they start to splutter, add the rest of the ingredients. Allow the flour to brown for about 1-2 mins until the flour changes from a light off white colour to a khaki color. Then add the lamb mixture from the cooker into the roux. ( The roux will burn quickly after it has turned brown, remove the mixture from heat and then add the lamb stew )

Allow this mixture to boil for about 10-15 minutes until it thickens to a soupy consistency. Adjust the salt if needed.

As seen in the picture, it is served up with the khichri. A variation of this would be to add milk in the last 5 minutes of the boiling process.

- posted from my IPAD !

Location:Bandook's kitchen, Germantown,United States

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