As cold as it is in Chicago in winter, there are some advantages to living in a place colder than a meat locker. One of my favorite sights is a winter sunrise on a shatteringly cold, clear morning. Sunday was just such a morning, and I raced out of bed and into my coat just in time to catch the last of the perfect golden sunrise. The sun shimmering on the wall of ice in front of our building was just stunning.
I think that our cold, gray winters are a gift to introverts like me. I don’t mind winter all that much, even on the extremely cold days – I know how to stay warm (thanks to LL Bean), and there’s a beauty to the snowy winter landscape – especially living on the Lake. The many moods of the Lake are beautiful to watch, and none more beautiful to me than when the ice rolls in from far out in the lake, and the water comes crashing up against the ice berm that forms on the beach. As the waves slap the ice, the water sprays high into the air and the sound of the crashing ice against waves is the best bedtime lullabye.
Without good weather and sunshine every day, I don’t feel guilty for wanting to curl up with a good book and cup of tea to spend an afternoon on the couch. The social calendar slows down as the weather grows cold and allows me to recharge my social batteries…and sometimes that means spending a quiet morning making the perfect lamb curry.
This curry requires quite a few steps, but the final product is so worth it – this curry has the depth of flavor I’ve only tasted in Indian Restaurants. I learned from Sabera
that the secret to a truly authentic curry is to make your own curry paste…and she’s right. The time it takes to stir the spices, onions and tomatoes to develop the curry paste is what makes a flavorful gravy for the final dish. I tried to keep the calorie count under control by minimizing the amount of oil used, and eliminating the dairy in the recipe – it doesn’t need it anyway. Give this curry a try next time you want to spend a morning meditating at the stove.
Lamb Curry with Potatoes
2 1/2 cups yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1″ pieces
1 lb lamb stew, trimmed of most fat and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 onions – one grated (or blitzed in the food processor), one sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 T fresh grated ginger
2.5 T safflower oil, divided
1 14oz can fire roasted crushed tomatoes
2 T tomato paste
2 cups chicken stock
1 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
4 cardamom pods
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 jalepeno, seeded and sliced
kosher salt to taste
cilantro for garnish
serve over brown rice
- In a mortar and pestle, combine the mustard seeds, cardamom and cumin. Bash the spices around a bit to create a coarse grind. Pick out the husks of the cardamom pods and set the spice mixture aside.
- Preheat the broiler and set a sheet pan in the oven while it preheats. Peel and cube the potatoes into bite sized pieces. Place the potatoes in a small mixing bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon of safflower oil and a sprinkle of salt. When the broiler is preheated, remove the sheet pan from the oven and spray lightly with oil. Spread the potatoes onto the pan in one layer and broil for 6-7 minutes to par-cook the potatoes – they should not be cooked all the way through, just get a head start on cooking, and the quick roast will help them keep their shape instead of getting water-logged. After 6-7 minutes under the broiler, remove the potatoes and set aside. While the potatoes cook, sear the meat.
- Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat. While it’s heating, sprinkle the cubed lamb with a bit of salt. Add 1 T of the safflower oil to the pot, and when it’s shimmering, add about half of the meat to the pot in one layer – don’t crowd the meat. Sear for 2 minutes without stirring, then turn the meat pieces and sear for 1 more minute on the other side. Remove the lamb from the pot and set aside in a bowl. Add the last half of the meat and sear on both sides, then set the meat aside.
- Keep the pot on medium heat, and remaining tablespoon of oil and grated onion. Saute for 3-4 minutes, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan, and allowing the onions to turn golden and begin to caramelize. Next, add the tomato paste, jalepenos, garam masala, mustard seeds, cumin, coriander, black pepper and garlic. Stir for a minute until fragrant. Add the can of crushed tomatoes and stir. Allow the mixture to cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally – the mixture will cook down into a thick, flavorful paste.
- After cooking the curry paste, add the chicken stock, sliced onion, lamb and potatoes. Stir to combine. Cover the pot and simmer on low for 30-45 minutes, until lamb and potatoes are tender. Season with salt as needed. Serve over brown rice and garnish with cilantro.
383 cal per 1 1/4 cup, 130 cal from fat, 14.8g fat, 90mg cholesterol, 400mg sodium, 780mg potassium, 31g carb, 3g fiber, 8g sugars, 31.3g protein
I really enjoyed the curried quinoa salad I made a couple of weeks ago, so I wanted to do something a little different with curried quinoa this week. I made up a batch of quinoa with curry powder early Sunday morning, cooled it quickly in the fridge so that it would be ready for a quick brunch.
I can make a decent fried rice at home, but there’s no way to achieve the wonderful almost charred taste of fried rice that you’ll get at a Thai restaurant. For one, I’m working on an electric range, which offers less control over heat than a gas range. Asian restaurants also have special burners for woks, that directly apply the gas flame to the bottom of the wok, providing unparalleled heat that you just can’t replicate at home. So my attempts at fried rice will always be somewhat lacking compared to take-out, but I can still put together a comforting bowl of fried rice or quinoa that is full of veggies and flavor.
Curry Fried Quinoa
Serves 7 as a main course
2 cups dried quinoa
3 T hot curry powder, divided
3 eggs, beaten
2 T fresh grated ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 large carrot, sliced thin
1 red bell pepper
1 jalepeno, seeded and sliced
1 T oil
1 tsp tamari (wheat free)
handful of cilantro, chopped
Cook the quinoa in your rice cooker with 2 T of the curry powder. Let quinoa fully cool before making this dish – day-old quinoa is best.
- Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Spray skillet with olive oil, and pour the beaten eggs into the skillet. Quickly scramble the eggs, chopping them up into small pieces with your spatula when they are almost done. Pour cooked eggs into a small bowl and set aside.
- Heat large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 T oil, and when oil is hot and shimmering, add the onion, carrot, bell pepper and jalepeno. Saute for 4-5 minutes, until onions just begin to caramelize.
- Add garlic and ginger to the pan, and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the quinoa to the pan, and stir. Cook 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add tamari and stir again. Add eggs and cilantro to the pan, then cook 1 more minute and serve.
Quinoa is a gift to the gluten-free people of the world. This tiny, earthy protein-packed grain is as open to inspiration as the other main grain in my life – rice. The ladies I work with are also quinoa lovers. Betsey eats quinoa and ghee for breakfast most mornings, Lori makes a veggie stir fry with quinoa, and I adore this spicy quinoa and black bean salad. Last week, Jen jumped in with her own quinoa recommendation for this curried mango quinoa recipe – and I knew I had to make it. WOW. I think this may be my new favorite spring salad – especially while the mangos are so good.
This recipe is simple to prepare, and completely delicious. I made some alterations from the original recipe (of course), adding carrot and cilantro, and making more dressing than the recipe originally called for. The resulting salad has the tang of the yogurt and limes and a nice heat from the curry powder, and the mangos are a perfect cool counterpoint to the heat. We’ll happily be eating this for lunch the rest of this week.
For lunch-storage purposes, I’ll add the mango each morning before I leave for work, so the fruit doesn’t get all soggy from being mixed into the salad for days at a time.
Mango Curried Quinoa Salad
Serves 6 as a main course
6 Weight Watchers Points per serving
1 cup greek yogurt, 0% fat
1/3 cup fresh lime juice (from 2-3 limes)
3 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cup quinoa
2 ripe mangos, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks (2 cups)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 carrot, scrubbed, then grated
1 fresh jalapeño chile, seeded and minced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
- Optional protein garnish – saute a few shrimp with a dash of curry, minced clove of garlic with a little olive oil, and top the salad with the shrimp.
- Rinse quinoa in a bowl using 5 changes of water, rubbing grains and letting them settle before pouring off water (if quinoa does not settle, drain in a large sieve after each rinsing).
- Cook quinoa in rice cooker along with 1 tsp curry powder, using appropriate amount of water for your cooker. Set aside cooked quinoa to cool. If you don’t have a rice cooker, cook quinoa on the stovetop according to the package directions.
- Whisk together yogurt, lime juice, 2 tsp of curry powder, ginger, salt in a measuring cup. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking until combined.
- In a large bowl, combine the cooled quinoa, bell pepper, jalepeno, cilantro, carrot and cilantro. Drizzle about half of the yogurt dressing over the salad, and mix with a spatula. Add the rest of the dressing, and mix thoroughly.
- When you’re ready to serve, top with the diced mango, and optional shrimp.