Savor The Earth

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kebabin’ July 24, 2009

Filed under: Indian,meat — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 1:18 pm
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I love the convenience of ground meat and find a number of local options at our farmers markets.  From Loncito’s Lamb and Thunderheart Bison at both Sunset Valley Farmers Market and Austin Farmers Market, goat and lamb from Premium Lamb at Austin FM, to pork, beef and longhorn beef vendors at both markets, you’ll enjoy plenty of choices.

Here’s an Indian-inspired kebab recipe. You can use lamb (my first choice), goat (very mild), or beef.   The ingredient list is long, but these juicy, aromatic  morsels will transport you, if not to India itself, then to your favorite Indian grocery store.  Mine’s MGM in Rich Creek Plaza at 7429 Burnet Road.  I don’t get north much so I buy what I can at Fiesta, but I relish the occasional foray into this friendly resource.  Sometimes they’re selling curry bush transplants.  I bought one at least 8 years ago and it grows great here.  It’ll die down in our “winter,” even with a sheet over it. Each spring I worriedly inspect the branches, searching for green signs of survival, and to my relief the plant always comes through.  Sometimes it blooms sweet smelling blossoms and one year it even fruited.  I had no idea what to do with those firm, dark, round berries.  Let me know if you do!

Although these kebabs are moist enough not to require condimenting, they taste extra yummy with some blueberry chutney.

KAKORI-STYLE KEBABS yields 10 finger length chubbies

  • 2 Tablespoons white poppy seeds–If you don’t have these, sesame seeds would probably taste good.  Black poppy seeds probably wouldn’t.
  • 3 Tablespoons besan (garbanzo bean flour)
  • 2 Tablespoons organic coconut oil, ghee, or neutral oil
  • 1 small yellow or white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons organic oatmeal (Whole Foods bulk sells for $1.79 a pound) soaked in 2 Tablespoons yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon garam masala–I always make my own and I’m always experimenting, but you can purchase some from WF or Central Market Bulk departments.
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, precious and optional, crushed with a little salt
  • 3/4 of a hard Texas pear, peeled, cored and finely shredded.  Go ahead and munch the other quarter or put it in your stock scrap bag in the freezer.
  • 1 pound ground meat, preferably local grassfed good stuff

In a small skillet, dry-toast the poppy seeds over medium or so heat until fragrant and darkening.  Add the besan and continue to toast until besan is roasty-fragrant and darkens a bit.  Dump out onto a plate or cake pan (cools faster), let cool and grind up in your spice grinder or mortar.  In your still hot pan, add the oil and onions and cook, adjusting heat as necessary, til they’re goodly browned.  You know what I’m talkin’ about.

Mix all your dry seasonings, including besan mixture, together in a small bowl.  Put the meat, browned onion, oatmeal and shredded pear into a large bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer.  I prefer to use a mixer because not only do my delicate hands get chilly but I can always count on a baby pooping on the carpet or some such disaster befalling my offspring when I’m up to my elbows in raw meat (or bread dough or whatever).  Praise be to KitchenAid®!  Dump in the spices and thoroughly combine all the ingredients however you dare.

Let the kebab mixture rest in the fridge for a while, all day or overnight.  Form the meat with your hands into 10 plump sausages.  An ice cream-style scoop works well to portion it out.  Grill over hot coals til cooked through and crusty brown.  Watch ’em disappear cuz even the youngest guy around here loves these.

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Eggplant Chickpea Pilaf July 21, 2009

Filed under: Indian,rice,vegetarian — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 2:11 pm
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Down at the Sunset Valley Farmers Market, my usual foraging turf, I find a number of local gems.  Ringger Family Farm, located in Bastrop County, makes soap with milk from their own herd of sustainably raised goats and grows beautiful jewel-like little eggplants.  I can’t get enough of their lavender and white striated, friendly-flavored finger-length delights.  And the cute, round, green and white-striped Thai orbs are a crunchy sweet treat when quickly stir-fried.  These folks also grow “tame” jalapenos for those of us whose capsaicin tolerance has been weakened by the proscriptions of our brood.

I could probably eat diced eggplant fried in olive oil almost every day in season.  Thankfully they are not available locally year round—although I anxiously await the first harvest at the beginning of every summer.  Before frying, I toss eggplant cubes with a little salt and some turmeric and let them sit for a few minutes.  After cooking, I refrigerate the used oil for sauteing veggies or brushing onto tortillas for quesadillas.

Here’s a vegetarian meal in a skillet that takes advantage of our local bounty of eggplants:

EGGPLANT CHICKPEA PILAF

  • 1 cup basmati rice–I like the Indian and Pakistani brands in the large fabric bags.

Rinse the rice well in three changes of water, then drain and soak in about 1 1/2 cups fresh water for 10 minutes.  Drain in a sieve, reserving soaking water and adding enough to measure 1 3/4 cups water.

  • 8 small, slim, gorgeously young and fresh eggplants, beheaded and and quartered lengthwise.

Toss the eggplant pieces with about 1 teaspoon turmeric and a generous pinch of kosher salt

  • 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas, preferably organic (Whole Foods and Central Market offer their own brands at good prices), drained.  Don’t bother to rinse the beans.  Jacques Pépin doesn’t.
  • 3 or 4 Tablespoons oil or ghee.  I like organic coconut oil, of course.
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 2″ piece of cinnamon stick
  • 2 black cardamom pods (or 4 green), slightly crushed with the handle of your kitchen knife
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 0r 2 whole dried red chiles
  • 1/4 teaspoon kalonji (nigella), optional
  • 1/2 teasoon asafetida, optional
  • 1 medium-sized white onion, sliced thin
  • 1 whole green jalapeno, optional
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled or ground in a mortar with a pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander (seeds)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 Tablespoons turbinado sugar
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt

Heat oil and whole spices (through kalonji) in a 12″ skillet on medium-high heat.  Fry spices until browning and fragrant, then add asafetida and quickly dump in the onions.  Cook the onions, stirring and adjusting the heat as necessary, until browning agreeably.  Add the eggplant pieces and the whole jalapeno and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the eggplant is browned.  Add the drained rice and garlic.  Continue cooking and stirring until the rice grains separate and lose their translucency.  Add the drained beans and the remaining ingredients plus the reserved water and turn the heat to high to quickly bring the mixture to a boil.  Give it a final stir, turn the heat to low, and cover with a tight fitting lid.  Cook for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes before fluffing and serving.  Don’t eat the whole spices.  Remove them from the pan if you have the opportunity–otherwise just warn your diners.