8 October 2011

Keema Mutter (Minced lamb with green peas), with vegetable curry & rice

I had a good feeling about this recipe, right from the word go - or from the first time I read it.

I found it on the goodfoodchannel.co.uk website and the recipe is attributed to Monisha Bharadwaj - so thank you, Monisha, for a great dinner!

For all that it seemed to have a fairly long list of ingredients, I could easily see how those ingredients would all meld together to make a really yummy - and different - dish.  There were two question marks over it - what one did with the 10 black peppercorns (did you just leave them there, or fish them out, or what?  I left them there and apart from a crunch with accompanying burst of pepperiness every now and then, didn't notice them) and whether the dish really needed EIGHT tablespoonfuls of tomato puree (which it did!).

For days before, I was contemplating serving it with simple white rice as an accompaniment.  Then, purely because I was getting nervous about how little vegetable matter was passing our lips and not because of any concerns over the Keema Mutter, I decided to accompany it with a plain old vegetable curry as well as the rice.  I am so glad I did, as the sweetness of the mild vegetable curry was the perfect foil for the hot chilli spiciness and intense flavours of the Keema Mutter.  Without the veggie curry being there, I doubt very much whether the Keema Mutter would have been received as well as it was.  I didn't source a recipe for the veggie curry, as I've made enough curries now that I felt a vegetable version was well within my range.

I suppose, giving the matter a bit of thought in retrospect, that it makes sense.  Very rarely do you find an Indian dish that is intended to be eaten in isolation.  Whenever you see (on the t.v., so one can't always believe it to be true) Indian families eating, there are usually three or four different dishes that make up the meal.  I suppose it's rather like Western families eating roast beef with yorkshire pudding, carrots, peas and gravy.  Each of those might very easily be seen as a different dish, coming together on the one plate.

I was a bit concerned that having three pans on the go at the same time might prove a bit unmanageable (bearing in mind that I can't run from pillar to post), but it actually proved to be a simple matter of doing all the chopping and peeling first, then getting on with the cooking.  I just left the coriander chopping until the last minute, as I didn't want it to wilt as it waited.  Apart from the fact that I very nearly forgot to do the coriander (just realised in time!), it all went beautifully well - and in a perfect timescale too.

The real accolade came from hubby, who declared that the entire dish (Keema Mutter, Vegetable Curry and rice) was better than any takeaway and could we have it again tomorrow.  Now that was a first!

I have given the three recipes below, so that you too can cook the entire ensemble.  It would be a shame not to - as they all went so well together.

KEEMA MUTTER (minced lamb with green peas), VEGETABLE CURRY and rice  (serves 3)

Ingredients for the Keema Mutter :

6 tbsp sunflower oil (I used vegetable oil)
2 bay leaves
10 black peppercorns
2 onions, finely chopped
2 tsp ginger, minced (I used ready-ginger, from a tube)
2 tsp garlic, minced
8 tbsp tomato puree (seriously!)
500g minced lamb
150g frozen garden peas (use fresh, if you've got them)
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground garam masala
sea salt
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves.

Ingredients for vegetable curry :

A knob of butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, minced

2 tsp madras curry powder
half a tsp ground coriander
half a tsp ground cinnamon
half a tsp ground cumin a handful of new potatoes, quartered or 1 potato, peeled and diced small
a handful of chantenay carrots, top & tailed, then halved or 1 medium carrot, peeled & diced small
half a small swede, peeled and diced small
a handful of mushrooms, quartered
400ml vegetable stock
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves.

Ingredients for white rice :

3-4 cups of basmati rice
sea salt.

Method :

1.  Firstly, turn your attentions to the vegetable curry as this needs time for the vegetables to cook.  To begin with, in a deep saucepan, melt the knob of butter and add the vegetable oil.  Then add the onions and a pinch of sea salt and fry until softened and just beginning to turn golden.

2.  Add the garlic and continue to fry, whilst you add the spices.  Stir to combine and continue to fry gently for another 1-2 minutes or so.

3.  Add the vegetables and stir well, continuing to fry, until the veggies are all coated in the spices.

4.  Add the vegetable stock, stir to combine.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook (with a lid on the pot, but at half-mast, so that steam can escape) until the vegetables are tender and the sauce is reduced and thickened so that it coats the vegetables.  This should take around 15-20 minutes and you should be able to leave it to its own devices - with just a stir every so often to ensure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan - for the duration.

5.  Next, put a saucepan of salted water on to boil, for the rice.

6.  While the water is heating, you can begin the Keema Mutter.  So, in a deep frying pan, heat the oil and add the bay leaves, peppercorns and onions.  Fry, stirring often, until the onions are golden - which takes around 10 minutes.

7.  Once the water for the rice is boiling, reduce the heat to a minimum, to keep it ticking over until you're ready to add the rice.

8.  In the Keema Mutter pan, add the ginger and garlic and fry, stirring now and then, for 1-2 minutes.

9.  Mix in the tomato puree and fry until you can see the oil definitely separating.

10.  Add in the minced lamb, chilli, turmeric, garam masala and a pinch of salt.  Do not be tempted to pre-cook your lamb, as the fat generated therefrom is an integral part of the dish.  No, this isn't one for weight watchers!  Cook over a low heat, stirring now and then, until the lamb is cooked through - and about half-way through, add the green peas.

11.  Now back to the rice.  Pour the dry rice into a sieve and run it under a warm tap until the rice stops releasing starch and the water runs clear.

12.  Put the rice into the water and increase the heat to get it boiling.  Stir the rice from time to time to make sure it isn't sticking to the bottom of the pan.

13.  Once boiling, reduce the heat to an active simmer and cook for 7-9 minutes.  Test the rice, which should be softened all the way through but retaining its shape and with a little bit of bite.  You don't want it to be crunchy, nor do you want it to be so waterlogged that it is flabby and beginning to lose its shape.

14.  Once done, drain the rice immediately and give it a good shake to remove all the water.  Return it to the pan and thereafter only ever stir it, should you need to, with a fork.  Spoons are too good at breaking it up into mushy little pieces.

15.  Finish both the Keema Mutter and the Vegetable Curry by adding the chopped fresh coriander leaf.  Stir to combine, then serve.

You can also see this recipe on Very Good Recipes.com.

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