Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Autumnal cooking

In our household, Saturdays are about making the most out of all this city has to offer - movies, art, food, parks, the river. Sometimes Sundays are like this too, but as the weather slips into Autumn and the skies darken, our Sundays become more about taking it easy - staying local, chilling with a DVD or the papers or a novel, going for walks in our neighbourhood and slow cooking.

I love the smells that filter out from our kitchen on a cold Sunday afternoon. Whether it's a roast in the oven or a stew on the hob, nothing signifies a late Sunday afternoon in Autumn better than savoury aromas and the sounds of sizzling, bubbling and frying.

On Sunday, I cooked two dishes for dinner. The first was a slow cook spiced lamb. In a heavy pan I sauteed a diced onion until it was translucent, then added 500g of diced lamb and browned it for a few minutes. I stirred in an inch of diced ginger, 4 cloves of chopped garlic, 2 teaspoons each of ground cumin, coriander and turmeric, a teaspoon of red chilli powder and 3 chopped green chillis. I fried the mixture until the spices had released their aroma, then I added enough water to cover, the diced flesh of 4 vine tomatoes, half a teaspoon each of salt and sugar, and 3 bay leaves, then brought the mixture to the boil and turned the heat down. Covering the pan, I simmered on a low heat for an hour.

After an hour, I added four peeled and diced potatoes and 3 teaspoons of garam masala. I brought the curry to the boil again, then simmered on low with a lid on for another 30-40 minutes. The lamb should be tender and falling apart, the gravy should be reduced, and the potatoes just crumbling.

I served with Basmati rice.

I had never made vegetable upma before. In a heavy pan, I popped a teaspoon of mustard seeds and a teaspoon of urad dal in some oil then stirred in an inch of diced ginger, a dried red chilli, 3 chopped green chilli and half a teaspoon of salt. I threw in a handful each of cashew nuts, frozen peas, chopped green beans and one chopped carrot, then covered with an inch of water and boiled for 7 minutes until the vegetables were cooked. Then I gradually folded in 200g of coarse semolina until the grain had absorbed all the water. If the mixture became dry, I added more boiling water until the upma was dough-like but moist. I was surprised at how quick and easy this moreish semolina dish is. Some people serve with a spoon of ghee on top. I didn't have any, but it was delicious anyway.

And for dessert? M scooped out the centre of a papaya and filled it with juicy blueberries.

It's 7.15am now and I have to set off to work. Usually it takes me 30 minutes to get into work from where I live. Today, if I leave now it'll take an hour and a half to get through the syrupy traffic on the bus. This Tube strike is doing my head in! And I can't even read on the bus.


Silent One said...

Thats it !! I am going to check you blog only after a meal from now on, always makes me hungry otherwise !
I fry the semolina before mixing it in the water.. tastes better and also the semolina doesnt stick together too much then.

Bombay Beauty said...

Autumn? I still want more summer and am still on summer recipes - for me soups, salads, vegetable preparations. Upama - my mother used to make this on Sunday! Must try it myself. Cheers, BB

Olivia said...

Gosh, and I am hungry already right now, thinking of a naughty midnight snack of hot chevda followded by hot chocolate!!!

anyway, yes the evenings are drawing in sooner now, and do you not find your food cravings beginning to change?

Planethalder said...

Silent One - does the upma taste different when you fry it beforehand?

Welcome Bombay Beauty - I have to admit, despite being a Summer baby, I do love it when the nights draw in and the air cools off and the hearty stews gurgle on the hob. I feel snuggled tight when Autumn comes.

Hi Olivia - you stay up far too late ;-)

Olivia said...

I'm a night owl. By the way, I had upama at Sakonis yesterday evening.

What I like most is the bhel puri topped by the dahi with the little semolina cakes in it; and chili paneer. Mmm. And that pudding made with vermicelli noodles, and finally masala tea.

Went indian shopping this weekend, can you tell?

Planethalder said...

Olivia, can't wait to read more about your Indian culinary experiences on your blog!

Joop said...

love really hearty!!! I should try the lamb dish~

Planethalder said...

I hope you blog the results Joop! Thanks for popping by!

Su-Lin said...

Gosh, that lamb recipe does look good - sounds excellent for a chilly autumn evening.

I'm really enjoying your blog - there's lots of new places I'm noting down to try!

Planethalder said...

Ha ha, that's funny Su-Lin - me and my husband were going through your blog last night in my RSS feedreader marking down all the places you'd mentioned that we want to try in London!

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