09/03/2012

Keema Mutter

Mutter? Mattar? Matar?

Depending upon the region of the Indian sub-continent, but we know them as peas, garden peas or petit pois.

Keema? That's minced meat - usually lamb, but in this case beef. Use of beef in India is rare - predominant religious beliefs eschew eating meat, and where permitted, cows are seen as sacred.

Further north, into Jammu Kashmir and Pakistan, beef is eaten. Cows, however, offer so much more than mere meat; dairy, and pulling ploughs are seen as more important than the meat itself - you don't eat your tractor! When available, beef is on the menu.

Curry is not difficult!

I cannot stress that enough. So many people see curry as exotic, difficult to replicate that restaurant taste, too complicated through use of a bewildering array of spices or simply through a lack of understanding of language.

Again, curry is not difficult and this Kashmiri favourite is one I have enjoyed practically my whole life after first enjoying a bowl from The Kashmir, Bradford's oldest and longest established Curry House, at the age of 5?

Let's get currying ...

The quantities listed will do for two people, or one hungry Yorkshireman!

First, onion. Onions are the foundation of any curry and it is the preparation of the onion that is especially important. We want softened, caramelised onions. Pop a generous helping of ghee into a skillet and toss in a shredded onion.

Spicing is important, and I like to put the spices into the onion to develop the base of the curry paste. I simply go with ground coriander, ground cumin, turmeric (or haldi), white pepper and celery salt. How much? Generous tablespoons of cumin and coriander, scant tablespoon of turmeric, teaspoon of celery salt and sprinkle of white pepper.

Other spices can be added here, later or right at the end. Different spice blends produce different curries - we'll keep it simple.

Drop the heat and allow the onions to gently soften and caramelise in the ghee for maybe half an hour. This will be the foundation of the curry paste.

Meanwhile, in another skillet, brown off a pound of minced meat. Lamb is ideal, beef if you like it (as I'm doing here), other ruminants will do as well - even moose, elk, turkey, whatever you want to use. Brown off the meat and allow it to gently simmer in the residual heat of the pan while the onions are still softening and caramelising.

Curry uses much less tomato than you think. Too often people simply chuck a can of peeled plum tomatoes in without thinking and wonder why it never tastes like it does in restaurants. Use little or no tomato. Rogan Josh, on the the other hand, does use tomato - this is the key ingredient in the flavour of the Rogan Josh dish.

Here, I'm going to use one plum tomato, which can easily be peeled by drawing a cross into the bottom of the tomato and immersing it in boiling water for a few minutes.


That one tomato is then lightly chopped and placed into a blending receptacle along with some ginger, three or four cloves of garlic, a couple of chopped green chillies, more if you like it hot: Garam! Garam! and the now softened onion mixture.


Stick blend the lot together - this is your curry paste.

Add the curry paste to the minced meat and finely chopped coriander stalk, reserving the leaves for stirring in at the last minute.


I also added in some dried fenugreek (or methi) because I love the aroma and flavour. Methi is a favourite in the northern regions of India, the Punjab, and in Pakistan.

Add some water - a pint? Stir in a cup of peas (frozen are fine) and raise the heat and then on a good simmer, allow the curry to cook for a good hour, two is better.

I always find allowing the curry to fully cool after this makes for a better experience later. Made the night before or earlier in the day, the curry can sit and develop, ready for re-heating in the evening.

When ready to eat, prepare some white rice, cauliflower rice, whatever it is you want to accompany your curry, bring back up to temperature and cook out all the water. Just prior to serving, roughly chop some coriander leaves and fold into the dish.

Serve out into a nice wide-brimmed bowl, dropping a cube of butter in the middle to melt into the dish giving it a rich, rounded flavour.

Enjoy!

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