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Book Tue Nov 25 2014

An Indian Thanksgiving?

93284100362000L.jpgThere aren't any statistics to back me up, but I'm going to grab part of a wishbone and declare this to be the most stressful week. Thursday's meal is arguably the most difficult that you'll plan this year. That's somewhat hilarious, since chances are you're organizing the exact same menu that you did last year and maybe even the year before. Isn't it time for a Thanksgiving shake-up? If you've been crying out for change, I have an answer for your Turkey Day woes.

Indian for Everyone by Anupy Singla is full of more than 100 classic and popular Indian recipes. The book really does what the title suggests. It offers Indian recipes for any home cook regardless of dietary restrictions, level of expertise or familiarity with Indian food. Singla includes a guide to Indian spices and how to use them as well as suggestions of how to make any of the recipes vegetarian, vegan or even gluten-free.

Indian for Everyone is a beautiful cookbook and is an excellent gift for anyone wanting to learn more about Indian cuisine. If you are looking to spice up your menu this week Singla suggests her recipe for Lamb Biryani. It's an easy one-pot meal that can be made ahead of time. Not to mention if you're not into lamb or tofu, you can substitute chicken or turkey. Maybe your menu is already planned. Not to worry, this recipe can also be made using your turkey and cranberry leftovers. Take your Thanksgiving meal to the next level with Indian for Everyone!

Lamb Biryani

Yield: Serves 4-6

Tools: You'll need a small mixing bowl; a food processor; a large mixing bowl; a heavy-bottomed, 4-quart/ 4-L saut. pan; a slotted spoon; a plate; tongs; a medium stockpot; and a 2-quart / 2-L ovenproof casserole dish with a tight lid (use aluminum foil if you don't have a lid).

Tip: Assemble this dish ahead of time and pop it into the oven 1 hour before dinner. It's a delicious and easy meal, and you'll have time to entertain your guests.

Think one-pot South Asian meal, and typically a good biryani will come to mind. The idea is that while the main protein and rice are partially cooked separately, the culinary magic happens when they come together in the oven. The juices from the meat below blend with the rice layered on top to create something uniquely delicious.

1/4 cup / 60 mL warmed milk
1 teaspoon saffron strands
1 (2-inch / 5-cm) piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1-4 fresh Thai, serrano, or cayenne
chiles, stems removed
1 cup / 20 g fresh cilantro
1/4 cup / 5 g fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons Garam Masala
1 teaspoon red chile powder or cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 cup / 240 mL plain, unsweetened yogurt
2 pounds / 910 g boneless lamb shoulder or leg, cut into 1-inch / 3-cm cubes
1/4 cup / 60 mL plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
3 large yellow onions, thinly sliced in rings
1/2 teaspoon plus 3 pinches salt, divided
2 cups / 370 g uncooked white or brown basmati rice, washed
1/4 cup / 40 g golden raisins
Water, to cover
4-6 fried eggs, for serving

1. In a small mixing bowl, combine the warmed milk and saffron strands and set aside to soak for at least 30 minutes while you prep the remaining ingredients.

2. In the bowl of a food processor, grind the ginger, garlic, fresh chiles, cilantro, and mint leaves into a smooth paste. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the Garam Masala, red chile powder, turmeric, and yogurt, and stir until well combined.

3. Slowly fold the lamb into the yogurt mixture and stir gently until all the pieces are evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to overnight.

4. In a heavy-bottomed, 4-quart / 4-L saut. pan over medium-high heat, warm 1/4 cup / 60 mL of the oil. Add the onions and 3 pinches of the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, until the onions are browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onions to a plate and leave the oil behind in the saut. pan.

5. Return the saut. pan to medium-high heat and warm the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Using tongs, carefully add the marinated lamb to the saut. pan, leaving the marinade behind in the bowl. Reserve it--you'll need it later. Cook for 2 minutes on each side.

6. Reduce the heat to low and add the reserved marinade and all but 2 tablespoons of the onions reserved from Step 4 to the saut. pan. Sprinkle with the remaining ½ teaspoon of the salt. Cook, partially covered and stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. This mixture will stick slightly to the bottom of the pan, but the lamb will also release enough fat to keep it from sticking too much. Just be sure to stir occasionally and add a little water if you need it. Remove from the heat and set aside.

7. Set the oven rack at the second-from-top position and preheat the oven to 450°/ 230°.

8. In a separate medium stockpot over medium-high heat, combine the rice, the raisins, and water to cover the rice by 2 inches / 5 cm and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for 7 minutes. If using brown rice, cook for 12 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside. If too much water remains in the pot after the cooking time, just drain and discard.

9. Transfer the lamb mixture to a 2-quart / 2-L ovenproof casserole dish and layer the rice over the lamb. Tightly pack the rice in the dish and garnish with the browned onions reserved from Step 4. Pour the bowl of saffron and milk from Step 1 over the casserole. Cover the dish with its lid or tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven. You can also make individual servings of biryani in smaller ovenproof dishes--you may need to slightly reduce the cooking time.

10. Serve immediately as a delicious one-pot meal with a fried egg on top of each serving.

Reprinted with permission from Indian for Everyone by Anupy Singla, Agate Surrey, 2014.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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