October 27, 2010

Keema Mattar, or Quick Make-Do Indian

I ended up coming home early from work yesterday due to a really unpleasant sinus headache.  I didn't feel well enough to do much of anything, but we still needed to eat.  I really didn't feel like shopping, so I checked our fridge, freezers and pantry to see what I could toss together with a minimum of fuss.  Among other things, my search turned up onions, ginger, green chilis, cans of diced tomatoes, a package of ground lamb and half a bag of frozen peas, and it occurred to me that those things go together in some basic Indian dishes.  Once I got that idea, the rest of the dish came together pretty easily.  

Except for one thing.  A spicy minced-meat curry would almost always either incorporate some yogurt, or be served with a raita (a relish of yogurt, cucumber and other cooling ingredients)... and we, unfortunately, had no plain yogurt.  We had plenty of containers of flavored yogurt, but that wouldn't work here.

We did, however, have some sour cream, and while sour cream isn't exactly a traditional Indian ingredient (at least not to my knowledge), I figured sour cream and yogurt were enough alike (soured milk products) that the sour cream would do in a pinch.  And, as it turns out, it worked wonderfully.  Served up with some naan, this simple lamb curry made for a great meal.  Juli gave this dish five stars.  Pretty good for something I threw together in a pinch.

Best of all, this dish was quick to make.  Due to the headache, I was moving kind of slowly and was less organized than usual, and it was still done in just a little over a half hour, so under normal conditions it should take less than a half hour. 

Jeffrey's Keema Mattar with Tomatoes

Yield = 3 servings if served with just a bread, or 4 if served with a side dish.

2       tablespoons sliced almonds
1 1/2 tablespoons butter or ghee
1       small onion, chopped fine
1       two-inch piece of ginger root, peeled and grated
1       teaspoon minced garlic
2       fresh green chilis, chopped fine
1       teaspoon ground cumin
1       teaspoon ground coriander
1       teaspoon garam masala
1/2    teaspoon turmeric
1       pound ground lamb
1       14 ounce can of diced tomatoes
3       tablespoons sour cream or plain yogurt
1       tablespoon lemon juice
1       cup frozen peas
2       tablespoons cilantro, chopped + a few leaves for garnish
1/2    teaspoon salt
         additional sour cream or yogurt to garnish, if desired

Heat a small skillet over medium heat.  Dry fry the almond pieces, stirring frequently, until they turn golden brown.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter.  Add the onion, ginger, garlic and chilis and fry until the onion is softened and transparent, about 5 minutes.  

Stir in the spices and cook until fragrant (about 40 seconds), then stir in the ground lamb and cook until the lamb is no longer pink.  Add the tomatoes and cook until all the liquid has cooked off, about, approximately 10 minutes.

Stir in the toasted almonds, sour cream (or yogurt), lemon juice, frozen peas, chopped cilantro and salt.  Cook until most of the liquid has cooked off.  Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve with naan or other Indian bread, and with sour cream or yogurt, if desired.

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