Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Indian Foods, What Delicious Flavors and Aromas

Keema Matar
I made another Indian dish the other night. It is one I have made before, but I tweaked it a fair bit, and we loved it so much, I turned around and made another batch last night! It is a ground meat dish called Keema Matar. It can be made with either ground beef or lamb, as desired. I had ground beef, so that was my choice. This is one of few Indian dishes I have seen that use ground meat, outside of making lamb meatballs on skewers. It is a little bit saucy and is marvelous served over basmati rice. I had brown basmati rice on hand, which takes an hour to cook, but so nice and chewy and delicious.

The word "Matar" (or sometimes spelled "Mattar")in the name means peas, and they are one of the ingredients. "Keema" means minced, I believe, as in a minced sort of meat, like the hamburger. This is one Indian dish that is actually really quick to make. The one item that is not found on just any grocery shelf is black cardamom. Black cardamom does not resemble green cardamom at all, in flavor, having a smoky and heavier note. Leave it out, if you do not have it or cannot find it.

Black Cardamom - Amomum subulatum

Black Cardamom
Black Cardamom, shown many times original size
Black Cardamom or Hill Cardamom is related to green cardamom and are both from the ginger family, but there the comparison stops. The flavors of black cardamom are far different and do not lend to use in sweet dishes. The seed pods are larger and coarser (2 - 3 times the size of green cardamom pods) and have a camphor like flavor and a smoky character from the method of drying over fires. It is commonly used in savory dhal or rice mixtures, and in some northern Indian garam masalas.

Keema Matar

Serves 4
Keema Matar with Lamb

1 pound ground beef or lamb
2 tablespoons oil or ghee
2 onions, chopped fine
2 fresh green chillies, such as Serrano, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 piece fresh ginger about the size of a walnut, chopped finely

1 (3-inch) piece of true cinnamon
2 black cardamom pods, crushed
2 green cardamom pods, crushed
4 whole cloves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 bay leaf
2 dried chillie pods, crushed, optional

1 - 1½ teaspoons salt, or to taste
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes, or 1 (15-oz.) can petite diced tomatoes, with juice
1½ cup frozen peas

chopped cilantro, for garnish

Full Masala Ingredients
In a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil or ghee and saute the onions over medium-high heat, stirring regularly, until they begin to caramelize, about 8 to 10 minutes. The onions should be a deep golden brown. Add the green chilies, garlic and ginger and cook for two more minutes, until aromatic. Add in the ground meat, mixing well until it completely loses its pink color. Sprinkle on the Full Masala (left whole and just crushed, to be authentic, or grind all the spices together) and cook for about 3 minutes more.

Sprinkle on the salt and turmeric and add the tomatoes. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 20 - 3 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Add in the peas, cover and continue to simmer just until peas are tender and heated through. The dish should be moist, but not soupy. To serve, sprinkle with the cilantro.

NOTES: I like to grind the Full Masala Spices, except for the bay leaf. Bay leaves are so sturdy, they tend not to grind fully. It is easier to remove the whole leaf at the end before serving.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.