Monday, April 28, 2008

Lamb and Lentils....Indian Style

I rarely go out to eat for a few reasons....I can cook most foods myself using higher quality ingredients, as well as knowing exactly what's going into my food...I can grocery shop for a week with the same money as a good meal would cost.....and I'll have leftovers. If I do go out to eat it's more about the experience of having time with friends...and it has to be a good restaurant! So when I look at the menu I always look for the foods that I might not cook myself, I mean why anyone would order chicken at a restaurant, especially a good restaurant, seems crazy to me.

Lamb used to be one of those foods that I didn't cook much, and I would chose when eating out, but lamb is just as easy as anything else, and with my pressure cooker lamb shanks and lamb shoulder cuts are fast too! Another food that I wouldn't cook at home is any recipe for Indian food. Too many ingredients, and ingredients that I might not already have in my pantry or spice cabinet, until I came accross this one....

This recipe, adapted from The Complete Meat Cookbook, one of my kitchen bibles, appealed to me because, after looking at the list of ingredients I knew I already had all of them, no need for a special trip to the grocery looking for crazy spices I might not ever use again. I made this 3 times, the first using full fat coconut milk, the second, no coconut milk just chicken stock, and lastly "lite" coconut milk. The first two times I used lamb shoulder cuts, (with bone), and the third I got a leg portion (the top portion) on sale @ Whole Foods (5.99 lb), which I boned, cut into big chunks, and threw the bone in the pot with the rest of the ingredients.

The full fat coconut milk version was the most "Indian flavored", with the lite coconut milk coming in a close second. Without the coconut milk it was still good, but in my opinion, nothing special. The difference in calories? 140 cal per serving, full fat coconut milk, 7 servings per can = 980 cal versus 40 cal per serving, lite, 7 serving per can = 280! 0 calories in chicken stock. I think I can sacrifice a little flavor! Also the leg cut was much less fatty than the shoulder cuts, again a little less flavor,(fat = flavor) but less time in the cooker.

Indian Lamb and Lentils

2-3lbs lamb, shoulder or leg, cut into chunks
1/2t. ground cumin and coriander
2 t. salt, 1 t. pepper

Coat meat with seasoning and let marinate for up to 2 hours at room temp, while prepping the rest of ingredients.

In a food processer, mix to a paste,

2 med onions
2 inch piece of fresh ginger
8 garlic cloves
1 c. mint leaves

Brown lamb pieces in oil, remove, and add onions, ginger, garlic, mint paste to pot and cook 5 min., scraping up browm bits on the bottom of the pan. Then add,
1 t. ground cumin

1 t. ground coriander

1 t. ground cradamom

Cook for 1 minute longer. Add browned lamb back to pot, along with,

1 14oz can coconut milk (your choice of full fat or lite)
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
1 c. water or stock
2 Tbl. tomato paste
1 c. lentils

If using a pressure cooker, bring to high pressure and cook for 20-30 min (20 for leg pieces, 30 for shoulder pieces). If using dutch oven, cover and place in a 325 degree oven for 1-1/2 hours, stirring once or twice, and adding water if the lentils seem too dry.

I shredded fresh spinach and spooned lamb and lentils on top. I always have to include more veggies, especially greens!

One more thing about the lentils I used. The first time I used red lentils. I loved the color, but the pressure cooker obliterated them and they lost their shape completely. Next I used the small green lentils...I think they're called french lentils...not as pretty, but they held their shape.

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