Sunday, August 24, 2008

Beef cooked with whole spices

Forgive the pun, but lately I've been working on "beefing" up my Indian cookbook collection. I'm in one of those gotta-have-it moods and this just happens to be the theme this time. So expect some more experiments when I get the time.

I've always regarded Madhur Jaffrey as THE Indian cookbook authority. It probably has to do with the fact that hers were among the first cookbooks I learned to read for pleasure. My mom had a copy of "An Invitation to Indian Cooking," and I used to read it like a novel. Jaffrey just has a lovely way with words and the way she describes little vignettes from her life intertwined with the recipes is just very engrossing.

Anyway, so even though I have quite a collection of Indian cookbooks, I have to admit whenever I want to try a new recipe, I tend to head straight to Jaffrey's books. I do dabble with and drool over other books, but whatever I've tried from her books have been reliable. Today's recipe is no exception, although I admit I had doubts at first.

I decided to try her recipe for Khare Masala ka Gosht because I was feeling very lazy today and didn't want the bother of slicing and browning onions, ginger, garlic, etc. This recipe is very simple, just calling for meat, oil, lots of aromatic whole spice, salt, and garam masala. When I first looked at the recipe, I was a bit concerned that even with the whole spices and salt it would be bland. I'm used to cooking my beef with lots of garlic, cumin, coriander, etc. But I decided I would try her recipe and try to keep the tweaking to a minimum. I did add a couple shakes of garlic powder and dried minced onion, but that's it! Oh and I had to add potatoes to the beef, nothing better than tender potatoes that have absorbed the essence of the dish. And don't do like I did and go upstairs to check email and forget to check on the beef so that when you do come downstairs you've almost burned the beef. Luckily I was just in time and didn't ruin it.

Khare Masala ka Gosht

Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's "An Invitation to Indian Cooking."

2 tbsp. oil
1 2-inch piece of cinnamon
20 peppercorns
15 cloves
10 cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
1 whole dried red pepper (I used 2)
1.25 lb beef stew meat
1.5 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp garam masala
2 small potatoes, cut into eighths
garlic powder (optional)
dried minced onions (optional)

Heat the oil over medium-high heat, then add the spices in the order listed. Stir for a few minutes, until the pepper darkens, then add beef, salt, and garam masala. Stir to brown all sides of beef, about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water, cover, lower heat to low and cook for 1 hour, checking every so often to stir and add water as necessary so meat and spices don't burn. After an hour, add the potato pieces and add more water if necessary. Cook 30 more minutes until potatoes and beef are tender. There won't be much of a gravy, but if it's too thin, just cook the water down a bit or if you want a bit more of a sauce then add a little water. Taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary -- I added a bit more salt and garam masala.

Should serve about 4 people, but the hubby and I will more than likely eat most of this. :D

Serve with rice or bread, dal, and veggies.

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