This was one Saturday I gave up the idea of musing about anything. Life happened! Like a global conspiracy to keep me away from not just my morning musings, but also my small, ordinary kitchen where I enjoy puttering around.
It taught me that this is a day I need to protect – not just for my sanity, but also to recharge my creative juices. I did the next best thing – landed up at a Little India with my daughter. It’s a place every city has and for which I thank the Indians who make it happen. I scarfed down a marvelous vegetarian thaali — Shahi paneer, paalak-paneer, malai kofta, tandoori roti, haree mirch, and an awesome gulabjamun — all made by the ‘Rajasthani’ establishment I discovered just a couple of months ago.
My daughter and I love this one-square kilometer area of “Concentrated India”. But time was short — she was leaving for a Central American country on a school trip to observe some local union elections. And we have to get a few things wrapped up.
So it was Sunday after dropping her off to the airport, that I got around to working, to get my mind off her being away — out of the country! on an exciting trip!
Repeating to myself that I was not going to obsess over her travel and think positive (still working on that) I got back to work. But not without starting to think about what to serve for dinner.
So I got my act together and began on that non-veg Kofta Curry like Maa used to make except with ground extra lean turkey and not mutton. Work with what you have in your fridge and freezer is my motto. A normal kitchen with the usual groceries lasts longer than one thinks, I found. (One of these Saturdays I am going to make Vegetarian Koftas without the malaai).
So here goes Maa’s Meat Kofta Curry-With-a- Difference —
1 lb of extra lean ground turkey (or any other meat you prefer)
1/2 cup of quinoa if you have any (don’t bother to get some if you don’t; replace with one or two slices of bread, of soaked and then squeezed out. I am using quinoa just because by some miracle, there’s some lying around, but also just in case my friend with a gluten problem who also avoids carbs, lands up for dinner.
2 medium onions (chop one finely and add to the keema). Chop the other into blocks and puree with the garlic and ginger in the blender)
1/2 a bunch of hara dhania (cilantro) – or fresh parsley if you have that instead, but it’s okay if you have neither.
1/2 a large carrot, or one medium or small one.
10 pods of garlic (Half for the puree and half for the ground turkey)
1/4 inch of ginger
(If you have garlic and ginger paste, use at least a teaspoon each)
(I like to use different colors of vegetables to get more nutrition and a healthy helping of veges with the meat. If you have red or green bell peppers, finely chop a quarter and add to the ground meat. I didn’t have any.)
3 ripe Tomatoes medium or large. You could do with less.
1 fresh green hari mirch (green chilli). You could use dry ground chillis if you prefer – or neither.
1 egg – if you want to. Maa used to add it to the ground mutton to make it join well when she made the meatballs. So maybe it’s a good idea to add to the ground turkey since that may not bind easily.
1 tbsp of garam masala,
Also keep some Khada Masala (okay, I relent to translate — whole spices) on the side – a few cloves, small piece of cinnamon, black pepper, cardamom.
Salt to taste
1 Tbsp of coconut oil or olive oil, or whatever oil you use. (By the way, last weekend I sauntered into a health food store — not my usual haunt — and the guy there recommended red palm oil for Vitamin E. I got it on a whim. It looks beautiful and I even tried it on toast at breakfast. Superb. So if you have any by some miracle, add a teaspoon of it to the coconut oil while making the onion and tomato saute. It turned out really great for me.)
How to go about it:
Puree one onion, half the garlic and all the ginger in blender
Start your stove on medium and put the oil in it, and when heated, dump the pureed onion into it to cook and simmer. Make sure it doesn’t touch bottom so keep stirring. (This is my Achilles Heel — many a pot I have burnt walking out of the kitchen for something or other. To avoid that, I now carry my laptop into the kitchen to continue working as I try out my own recipe.)
Chop the two tomatoes and puree them as well. Add it to the onion which will probably be cooked in about 5 minutes to a delicate brown.
Separately, put the quarter cup of quinoa in a cup of hot water. Cover and let it cook in microwave for 4 to 5 minutes but keep adding water if it gets too dry. Then drain and keep aside.
Meanwhile, finely chop up the 1 medium onion, the remaining garlic, and the cilantro. Grate the carrot.
Add all this to the ground turkey. Add the cooked quinoa after its drained of excess water. Add the egg, garam masala and the salt to taste.
Mix it all up really well by hand.
Take a small katori and put some olive oil or other oil in it. Now dip your fingers in the oil and grease your palm lightly. Take a ball of the ground turkey mixture and roll a meatball. Do the same with the rest of the mixture, making sure to keep replenishing the oil in the palm of your hand otherwise you will find the meat sticky and hard to round.
Meanwhile, I’m sure you haven’t let the saute burn in the pot, right? When the oil seems to be separating from the mixture, add the Khada Masala. Let it simmer for one more minute.
Now add 1 to 1 1/2 cup of water back into the saute which looks like brown paste. When it starts to simmer, gently drop each meatball into it.
Simmer for 7 minutes or to make sure its cooked through.
Garnish with some fresh cilantro.
Serve with some freshly julienned red onions in a side plate.
Can be eaten on rice or with chapatis or pita or on its own.