GOURMET of the day

Lamb Curry with Pumpkin and Buttery Saffron Rice

I’ve had a busy and exciting week. My friend Allison had her first baby late last week, a beautiful little girl who has been a blessing ever since her parents found out she was on her way into their lives. And while there really isn’t quite a comparison to the magnitude of the first news, it’s also been an exciting week because the San Francisco Giants are playing in the World Series! The company of baseball and friends have made life so blissful lately.  It’s the simple pleasures that give life so much meaning.

The brisk fall chill has made it comfortable again to turn on the oven and have several pots simmering on the stovetop. These days I’m enjoying being able to braise again, experimenting different stews and curries. I encountered a recipe that was perfect for the fall weather, one that used mild spices and chunks of buttery winter squash to cozy comforting flavors. For this recipe I used kabocha squash, which is sweet, dense and nutty.  However if you prefer, butternut squash can be substituted in a cinch.

Lamb Curry with Pumpkin (Gosht)
From Savoring India, by Julie Sahni
Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons grape seed/vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. lean lamb shoulder meat, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 black or green cardamom pods
  • 2 cassia or bay leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 cup fresh tomato, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cups chicken stock or water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1-lb of fresh pumpkin such as kabocha or butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions

  1. In a large, heavy, cast iron pan or dutch oven, warm 2 tablespoons of the oil. When hot, add a few pieces of the lamb and sear until they are lightly browned but not cooked through, roughly 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with the remaining lamb.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-high and add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the baking dish. When hot, add the onion, cardamom and cassia leaves and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in the ginger, garlic, coriander and turmeric.
  3. Return the lamb to the baking dish along with the tomato, tomato paste, stock and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the meat is tender when pierced with a fork, about 2 hours. Alternatively, place the covered baking dish in a preheated 350ºF oven for 2 1/2 hours.
  4. About 20 minutes before the meat is done, stir in the pumpkin, cover and continue cooking until the lamb and pumpkin are tender and cooked through. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Transfer the curry to a warmed platter, taking care not to crush the pumpkin. Sprinkle with the garam masala and cilantro and serve over buttery saffron rice.

Buttery Saffron Rice
Ingredients

  • 1/8 teaspoon saffron strands
  • 2 cups boiling water, divided
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice, unrinsed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3-inch cinnamon stick (optional)

Directions

  1. Boil 1 cup of water. Steep the saffron in the boiling water for 5 minutes
  2. In a saucepan roughly 1 quart in size, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Stir in the rice and salt. Continue stirring until the rice begins to absorb the butter and becomes opaque, but do not brown the rice. This step will remove some of the starchiness of the rice.
  3. Take the saffron water, add more water until you reach 2 cups total. Pour water onto the rice. Add the cinnamon stick, if using. Cover immediately, reduce heat to low, and cook 20 minutes, or until all of the liquid is absorbed. Do not remove the lid while the rice is cooking. Remove the cinnamon stick prior to serving.
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