I really like Indian food. Indian food seems to have just the right amount of spice and complexity and heat to make being stuck inside (for various reasons) on a day that the snow is piling up outside. And Indian food is a lot like American food in that each region is vastly different in the spices and flavorings used.
One of my favorite Indian cookbooks, is interestingly enough the Betty Crocker's Indian Home Cooking cookbook with recipes by Raghavan Iyer. Although Betty Crocker seems an odd choice for an Indian cookbook, but there's all sorts of interesting comments in it, as well as a discussion of the spices and regions of India.
For example, about this recipe, Mr. Iyer says "Mutton, which can be either mature lamb or goat in India, is a delicacy, not only in the North, but also in the south-central city of Hyderbad where many Muslims dwell alongside their Hindu neighbors. The have retained their Moghul influences, as is evidenced by the city's architectural wonders and their spices of choice: cinnamon, cloves and garlic. Along with these seasonings, they have incorporated such quintessential South Indian elements as popping mustard seed and using fresh karhi leaves to create an altogether unique culinary style."
One thing that comes to mind is that you should avoid inhaling a great amount of the vapors from popping the mustard seeds and then when adding the onions, Serrano peppers, and garlic. I still can't smell anything but a scorching burning smell inside my nose. And I think there may be a cloud of mustard gas in my kitchen. Well maybe not mustard gas, but my nose is a running. Other than that this is one tasty dish. I followed Mr. Iyer's subsititutions and used bay leaves instead of the karhi leaves.
And where did I find ground lamb? At that lovely grocery store by my mom's house. There's loads of ground lamb up there.
Ground Lamb with Peas (Mutter Kheema)from Better Crocker's Indian Home Cooking
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp black or yellow mustard seeds
2 three-inch cinnamon sticks
1 cup finely chopped onion
5 medium cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 Serrano peppers finely chopped
3 dried bay leaves (or 10 to 12 fresh kahri leaves)
1 pound ground lamb
1 cup frozen peas
1 medium tomato finely chopped (3/4 cup)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Garam Masaala
1/2 cup plain yogurt (regular or fat free)
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
1. Heat oil and mustard seed in wok or deep 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat. Once seed begins to pop, cover and wait until popping stops.
2. Add cinnamon sticks, onion, garlic, chilies and bay leaves; stir-fry 2 to 4 minutes or until onion is brown.
3. Stir in lamb and peas. Cook 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lamb is brown.
4. Stir in remaining ingredients except cilantro. Cook 1 to 2 minutes stirring occasionally, just until tomato and yogurt are warm. Remove bay leaves and discard. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with cinnamon sticks left in, but do not eat them.
1 Serving: Calories 205 (Calories from Fat 115); Fat 13g (Saturated 5g); Cholesterol 50mg; Sodium 460mg; Carbohydrate 9g (Dietary Fiber 2g); Protein15g