I am an Air Force Brat! And proud of it! From the time I was 3 ’til I was 18 we never lived in one place longer than 6 – 10 months at a time. We did stay in one house for two years and it felt very odd. Wonderful, but odd!
During all that time we lived most of my childhood somewhere in Germany or England. And during that time we traveled everywhere we could: Spain, Italy, France, Switzerland, Scotland. And everywhere we went we tried new foods. Many of them completely new to us. The bread and Sausages of German. Bangers and Mash. Treacle Tart. I even remember trying tongue (once ONLY!!) and my Dad had Steak Tartar. We’ve had eels, seaweed, squid in it’s own juice (BLACK!), lamb, goat. Nothing escaped us! I was just a child for most of it but I do recall numerous delicious, and not so delicious, dishes. It wasn’t until I was grown, married, retired (and learning to actually cook) that I thought back to those days and wanted to replicate some of those meals. Usually Indian. Because I remember visiting Veraswami’s in London several times. I know they have changed since the 1950s but many of their menu items are still the same. Like
2 1 inch cubes fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
8 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 cups) water
10 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 lb lamb cut into 1 inch cubes
10 cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons bright red paprika mixed with 1/4-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons plain yogurt
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
Freshly ground black pepper
Put the ginger, garlic, and 4 tablespoons water into the container of an electric blender. Blend well until you have a smooth paste.
Heat the oil in a wide, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Brown the meat cubes in several batches and set to one side. Put the cardamom pods, bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns, and cinnamon into the same hot oil. Stir once and wait until the cloves swell and the bay leaves begin to take on color This just takes a few
Add in the onions then stir and fry for about 5 minutes or until the onions turn a medium-brown color. Add the ginger-garlic paste and stir for 30 seconds. Then add the coriander, cumin, paprika-cayenne mix, and salt. Stir and fry for another 30 seconds. Add the fried meat cubes and juices. Stir for 30 seconds.
Add 1 tablespoon of the yogurt. Stir and fry for about 30 seconds or until the yogurt is well blended. Add the remaining yogurt a tablespoon at a time as before. Stir and fry for 3-4 minutes.
Add 275 ml (1’/4 cups) water if you are cooking lamb and 425 ml (2 cups) water if you are cooking beef. Bring the contents of the pot to a boil, scraping in all browned spices on the sides and bottom of the pot. Cover, turn heat to low and simmer for about an hour for lamb and 2 hours for beef, or until the meat is
tender. (It could be baked, covered, in a preheated 180°C/350°F oven for the
same length of time or until tender.) Every 10 minutes or so, give the meat a good stir. When the meat is tender, take off the lid, turn the heat up to medium, and boil away some of the liquid. You should end up with tender meat in a thick, reddish brown sauce.
Spoon off the fat.
Sprinkle garam masala and black pepper over the meat before you serve and mix them in.
I served this over Basmati rice.
I am sure it isn’t as good as Veraswamy’s but as far as memories go, it brought back quite a few. I had a chance to go back in 2000 but you know what they say about best laid plans. One day. Until then I will dream of the little bowls of delicate licorice tidbits, the fragile crystal glasses (one of which I broke), the colorful regalia worn by the doorman and the wait staff.
I am pretty sure this recipe is from Madjur Jaffrey, but I’m not sure.
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