beef pilaf


I am setting myself up for more and more projects this month. Last week you heard me mention about the bedroom project. The bedroom renovation process appears to be progressing at a respectable pace for now. The furniture is ordered and all I have to do now is paint the walls, sell the old furniture and deal with the contractor. I am still awaiting that possible snag that might just suddenly pop up. I will deal with that when the time comes and for now I will gladly indulge and enjoy this unusually smooth ride. 


So many exciting things happen in March or rather I begin to look forward to, for one I am happy with all this sunny weather, D.C. is currently sporting. The increasing sun time and the late 60s to mid 70s temperatures is perfect for my daily runs or just sitting outside on the terrace. However, all this sun is making me wish I had more windows in my life. I need more windows at home and at work. Let me explain, my office has no windows so that is a bit of a bother in good weather but kind of nice in winter when the days get shorter. At home, we live in a basement unit, so additional windows would always be welcome but that also means the row houses attached next to us would have to vanish into thin air but that won't happen in this lifetime, so I guess I just need to be outdoors a lot more this year.


This rice and beef pilaf adapted from The Wonderful World of Indian Cookery by Rohini Singh is armed with a cornucopia of aromatic ingredients. Honestly, the beef in my opinion does contribute to texture (lamb might be an equally good substitute) but the spice are surely the stars of this pilaf. It is all about the cardamom and cloves! When you grind the green cardamom and cloves you will smell some wonderful strong oils in the air that are refreshing yet spicy. Last but not least, black cardamom have a similar but stronger scent than their green counterparts but produce an almost peppermint peppery aroma in the rice.


Pilafs are easy, simple and wholesome. Though the original recipe for this pilaf was slightly rich, I cut back on the fat wherever possible. Extra virgin olive oil and plain non-fat yogurt work great and do not compromise on taste in this pilaf while reducing the fat. This pilaf is an excellent addition to a daily meal or a special occasion. You can serve it with a side of plain non-fat yogurt or chilled tomato slices.


beef pilaf

yields: 4-6 servings 

ingredients




6 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seed
4 large red onions, sliced
1lb lean beef cubed (lamb can also be used)
1/2 cup plain non-fat yogurt
5 cups water  
1 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, ground
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 bay leaves
whole red chilies or chopped green chilies
1 1/2 teaspoon salt 
8 green cardamom pods, ground
4-5 cloves
2 pieces of cinnamon
2 black cardamom, ground
1 1/2 " piece of ginger root, cut in fine strips
2 cups long grain basmati rice, cleaned, washed and drained

1. Heat 3 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large saucepan on a medium flame. Drop in the cumin. After a few seconds add the half of the sliced onions and fry till light brown. Add the meat and cook it till the juices dry up. 
2. Beat the yogurt lightly and to it add the next six ingredients. Mix well and add it to the meat along with 1 cup of water. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Then reduce to a gentle simmer and cook for about 45 minutes or till the meat is tender. 
3. In a separate saucepan, heat the rest of the oil and add the spices from the black peppercorns to the black cardamom.  Fry for 5 seconds and add the ginger and fry for another minute. 
4. Add the rice into the pan and fry for a few more minutes till the grain get coated with the oil and spices. Pour the 4 cups of water and  add the salt. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the flame to a gentle simmer. Cook the rice with a covered lid till par boiled. 
5. In a large stockpot layer half of the rice at the bottom of the pan. Add the meat with its liquid over the rice in a layer. Layer the remaining rice on top of the meat. Cover the pot with a tight lid and put it back on a low flame and cook for about 30 minutes or till all the liquid is evaporated and the rice is completely cooked. Before serving, stir the rice and meat gently. Serve garnished with chopped cilantro or lightly fried blanched almonds.


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goan beef and chili stir fry


I apologize for being terrible at posting nothing last week mostly because my final semester of school has finally begun and I took a quick trip to Delaware. The pressure seems to be slowly growing like an invasive vine but I feel ready to be done with classes and completing my thesis. Excuses aside, I can now get back into the swing of things. I did have some exciting news from last week when I super thrilled to find one of my photographs of Lafayette Park on the cover of the DCist. Among other significant events of last week, were the couple of inches of snow that covered up the capital. I think this is probably the first time I may have ever seen daffodils blooming in the snow. The streets of Georgetown always look pretty in the snow even with this year's winter resembling more of a spring. I wonder if we will have a terribly hot summer this year ? 


This is perhaps one of my many cherished childhood meals, spicy meat and potatoes. There are so many wonderful Indian recipes out there but this is by far my favorite. My grandmother cooked this dish every other week and I couldn't wait to eat lunch when I'd go over for on Thursdays at lunchtime. To me this dish represents the Goan version of an Asian stir fry, the beef and the potatoes are stir-fried separately and then mixed together with the garam masala and seasonings. The warm notes of the ground cloves and cinnamon from the garam masala along with the Indian green chilies give this dish its characteristic heat and spicy flavors. Indian green chilies are available in so many different varieties and many of them are way hotter than the habanero. Thai green chilies can also be substituted in this recipe. The more the chili, the greater the heat. Served with steamed rice this dish makes a wonderful complete meal.


goan beef and chili stir fry

ingredients 

2 cloves of garlic
2 large red onions
4 medium sized potatoes
4 medium sized green chilies 
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon grated ginger root
2 lbs cubed beef (stew beef pieces preferably) 
2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 teaspoon garam masala
salt and pepper to taste

1. Peel the garlic, onions, and potatoes. Halve the onions and slice them length wise and keep aside. Chop the garlic and keep aside. Dice the potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes. Slice the chilies length wise (you can leave the seeds in if you want more heat). 
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet on a medium flame. When the oil gets hot, add the potatoes and toss them around to coat them in the oil. Cover with a lid and cook till tender. Add the onions and cook till translucent. Add the garlic, ginger, and the chilies and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the skillet and keep aside. 
3. Now, add the rest of the oil to the same skillet and continue heating on a medium flame. Add the beef cubes to the pan and cook till browned on both sides and tender. This should take about 20 minutes. Add the vegetables back into the pot along with the lemon juice, garam masala and season with salt and pepper. Gently fold all the ingredients together. Cover the skillet with a tight lid and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook for another 5 minutes so all the flavors are combined evenly. Serve hot with rice.