Ms. Jaffrey’s Weeknight Lamb – Kheema Matar

If you ask me, this is a perfect mid-week meal for the wet, cold, dark season. I admit, it really doesn’t look pretty or delicious. I’m not sure it’s possible to photograph browned ground lamb beautifully. You’ll just have to trust me and Madhur Jaffrey whose recipe this is – or maybe read the ingredients list. I love lamb in any preparation, but combined with garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin – that really gets my attention. Kheema matar tastes wonderful and the aroma is positively seductive. Adults and children will be very happy with this menu.

Don’t freak out about the length of the ingredients list for a mid week meal. Check it out: Once you’ve made this dish once – you’ll see how quickly it comes together. Here are all the ingredients laid out:

Really, how long could such a small amount of chopping possibly take? 10 minutes tops.

Kheema matar

for 4-6

  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 medium sized onion (the size of a tennis ball) minced
  • 6 or 7 medium sized cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
  • 3-4 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1-2 hot green chilies (for children use 1 medium sized jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed; for adults or those who like spicier food use  1 or 2 serranos)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander (from a brand new jar or freshly ground!)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin seeds
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 10 ounces water, divided into 6 and 4 fl ounces respectively
  • 7 ounces frozen petite peas
  • 6 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garam masala (buy small amounts in the bulk section)
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon or lime juice

Begin, by finely chopping the onion, garlic, chilies,and cilantro. Grate the ginger and squeeze the lemon juice. When chopping chilies, it is a good ideas to protect your hand by either wearing rubber gloves designated for the purpose (mine are labelled with indelible marker “beets and chilies”) or covering your hand with a plastic produce bag as shown below:

Keep the onions and garlic separate from the other ingredients as they will be added to the dish on their own. In one bowl, combine the fresh ginger, chilies, ground coriander, cumin and cayenne. In a second bowl, put the peas, chopped cilantro, salt, garam masala, lemon juice and 4 fl. ounces of water. Measure 6 ounces of water in a liquid measuring cup and set aside.

Heat the oil in a wide, heavy saute pan over medium high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and fry until lightly browned. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant – about 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Add the lamb and the contents of the bowl containing the ginger, green chilies, ground coriander, cumin and cayenne. Stir to mix all the ingredients and brown the meat. I like to do this with a stainless steel wire potato masher – it is the best tool for the job. See?

Add the 6 ounces of water and raise the heat until the mixture is simmering. Cover and turn the heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes.

While the lamb simmers, you may want to start some basmati rice and make the green beans. I also bought some naan and heated them in the oven and served some Greek yogurt (about 3/4 of a cup) into which I grated a small clove of garlic and stirred in a 1/2 tsp of sea salt.

When 30 minutes is up, add the contents of the bowl containing the peas, cilantro, salt, garam masala, lemon juice, and the 4 ounces of water. Stir and raise the heat, bringing to a simmer once again. Cook a further 10 minutes. Taste it – you may want more salt or lemon juice.

Serve with rice and steamed green beans. You may want to try the Spicy Green Beans also from Ms. Jaffrey. To be very authentic to her childhood dish, Ms. Jaffrey would have you include a fire-y lime pickle but I didn’t happen to have any.

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