In the middle of Pennsylvania, we fight hard for spring. We endure a long winter that only reveals itself in shades of black and white (and sometimes brown) — so when I start to see the mint sprouting up in my backyard, I become a happy person. Mint is a crazy perennial grower — plant it wherever you want nothing else to grow. It takes over. But I love nothing better than snipping a whole bunch for a salad, or fruit, or mint jelly, or mojitos. Especially the mojitos.
Last night I had some lamb sausage from the wonderful Blue Rooster Farm and some sprouts of mint that caught my attention. Add to that a few cucumbers in the fridge and all I could think about was Indian food. I would have been ready for takeout after a long day, but I talked myself into cooking when I thought about those wonderful ingredients. Buying your food locally puts such a different spin on cooking — it seems like so much less of a chore and so much more of a creative challenge.
Enjoy this dish with whatever type of protein you like. Shrimp, tofu, or chicken are great … as are chick peas for a vegetarian version. And given this takes about 50 minutes to cook (less if you aren’t using brown rice), you can have this cooked in less time than it takes to get delivery. And you can make a mojito while you’re at it.
Lamb Tikka Masala with Brown Basmati Rice
1-2 cups of brown basmati rice (and water according to package directions)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 t salt
2 t coriander
1 t cumin
1 t freshly ground pepper
1 t ground ginger
1/2 t cardamom
1/2 t ground cloves
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t chile powder (heat level according to taste)
1 t paprika
1 lb. of lamb sausage, or other protein of your choice
1 large onion, diced
Juice of 1/2 lime
3 t tomato paste
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1/2 cup of plain yogurt
1/2 cup of water
1/2 t salt
Chopped Fresh Mint
1. Start brown rice according to package directions. (It usually takes about 45-50 minutes to cook — when rice is done, it is important to remove the lid, fluff it, and let it steam dry for a 5-10 minutes by simply letting it sit on the stove. This makes it less sticky.)
2. Prepare masala spice mixture by combining chopped garlic, chopped fresh ginger, salt, coriander, cumin, pepper, dried ginger, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, chile powder, and paprika. (Alternatively, you can use a prepared Garam Masala spice mixture if you like.)
3. Rub lamb or protein with about 2 teaspoons of masala spice mixture and brown in a bit of olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan (you don’t need to fully cook it, just brown it on all sides well). Remove to a plate and wipe out skillet of any burned spices.
4. In same pan, heat a bit more oil and saute the diced onion over medium heat with 1 teaspoon of the masala spice mixture. Cook about five minutes until softened.
5. Deglaze the pan with the juice of 1/2 lime. Add tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes.
6. Add cream, yogurt, water, and salt and whisk to make sure everything is incorporated. Slice or chop lamb/protein and add back into pan of sauce. Simmer all until slightly thickened — about 10 minutes. Taste and season with salt/pepper if necessary. When ready to serve, stir in chopped fresh mint and serve over brown basmati rice. A simple cucumber salad dressed with olive oil, lime juice, and mint is a great side dish.