Thursday, April 7, 2011

Another Indian inspired meal

Tonight I cooked another Indian inspired meal.  The recipes are from the tv show 'Aarti Party' on the Food Network (my favorite cooking show!).  Not only is her food amazing, but she is so fun to watch! 
Last time I cooked an Aarti meal, my kitchen was a disaster and it took me forever to clean up...not something I'd do every day, let alone every week.  But the combination of recipes that I cooked tonight were very easy and didn't leave a huge mess.  Its definitely something I will cook more often!  

Here are the recipes:

Goan Beef Curry with Vinegar: Beef Vindaloo


Wet Masala (Spice Blend):

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 (1-inch) pieces cinnamon bark
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 4 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (more if you're feeling feisty!)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon Ginger Garlic Paste, recipe follows, or 6 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped and 1-inch thumb fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced very thinly
  • 1 serrano pepper, sliced in half
  • 2 pounds boneless beef top sirloin, trimmed of all excess fat, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


For the wet masala: In a small skillet over medium-high heat, toast the cumin seeds, cinnamon bark, cloves, and peppercorns until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour into a spice grinder and process until powdered. In a small food processor or blender, combine the toasted spice mix and the rest of the wet masala ingredients. Process until smooth.
Place a large (preferably nonstick) pot over high heat and add the oil. When the oil is shimmering, add the onions and serrano pepper. Stirring frequently, saute the onions until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Don't let them burn! Turn the heat down to medium-high if they're starting to burn.
Add the ground wet masala, taking care because it will sizzle wildly and steam up your glasses, if you wear them. Stir quite vigorously and turn down the heat if it's bubbling too furiously. Don't wash the food processor bowl yet. Keep stirring, with short pauses, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the masala comes together as one mass, about 2 minutes. Also, you may see little droplets of oil on the perimeter of the masala. That's a good sign!
Quickly add the meat and stir, coating the meat in the masala. Stir and cook about 5 minutes until the meat browns.
Remember that dirty food processor bowl? Fill it with 1 cup of hot water (from the tap is fine), swirl it around so it picks up any leftover masala, and pour that into the pot. Add salt and pepper, stir, bring the curry to a boil, and then turn it down to a simmer. Cover and cook 30 minutes. Then cook with the lid ajar for another 10 minutes to thicken the gravy slightly. Check the meat at the end of the cooking time; it should be tender and not chewy at all. Adjust the salt if you like, and serve over rice or with chapatis (whole wheat griddle bread).

Ginger-Garlic Paste:

  • 1/2 cup cloves garlic, whole
  • 1/2 cup fresh ginger, peeled, 1/2-inch slices
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
Throw the garlic, ginger, and canola oil in a mini-food processor and let it go until it forms a semi-smooth paste. There will still be tiny little pieces in there, but overall, it should resemble a paste.
Save what you don't use in a small glass jar. It should last in the fridge for 2 to 3 weeks. It's a delicious addition to marinades, pasta sauces, stir fry sauces, slow-cooker recipes, gravy etc. We always had a jar of this stuff in our fridge growing up.

The second recipe that I made that went really well with the beef dish is:

Cucumber and Yogurt Salad: Cucumber Raita


  • 2 cups plain whole milk or low-fat yogurt
  • 2 cups grated English or Persian cucumber (unpeeled)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 sprigs fresh mint, leaves only, minced finely
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Whisk the yogurt until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients, plus a little freshly ground black pepper if you like. Stir, chill, and serve.

The yogurt recipe is so simple that it gives you time to focus on the beef dish.  I made the yogurt earlier in the day so it was all ready for dinner when the beef was done.  

It was fun cooking the beef, and part of the reason is that when I got to the point of adding what Aarti calls the 'wet masala' (the sauce) it started burning my nostrils.  My husband Johnny and our cousin Hunter were in the other room and even their eyes were watering.  It was so funny!  
Anyways, the beef is very nice and tender, and it has just the right amount of heat and has a very fragrant flavor to it...if that makes sense!  I served it over a bed of white rice and spooned some of the cucumber yogurt over the top.  The heat of the meat dish and the coolness of the yogurt/cucumber/mint combination really complimented each other.  And I loved when I would randomly taste a little sweetness from the raisins in there.  It was deeeeeelicious!!!!!
"This tastes as good as the food at Epcot in Disney World!" -Hunter Trimble