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. Â Mint is a crazy perennial grower — plant it wherever you want nothing else to grow. Â It takes over. Â But I love nothing better than snipping a whole bunch for a salad, or fruit, or mint jelly, or mojitos. Â 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. Â Add to that a few cucumbers in the fridge and all I could think about was Indian food. Â I would have been ready for takeout after a long day, but I talked myself into cooking when I thought about those wonderful ingredients. Â 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. Â Shrimp, tofu, or chicken are great … as are chick peas for a vegetarian version. Â 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. Â 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 tÂ 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. Â Start brown rice according to package directions. (It usually takes about 45-50 minutes to cook Â — 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. Â This makes it less sticky.)
2. Â 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. Â 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 Â to fully cook it, just brown it on all sides well). Â Remove to a plate and wipe out skillet of any burned spices.
4. Â In same pan, heat a bit more oil and saute the diced onion over medium heat with 1 teaspoon of the masala spice mixture. Â Cook about five minutes until softened.
5. Â Deglaze the pan with the juice of 1/2 lime. Â Add tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes.
6. Â Add cream, yogurt, water, and salt and whisk to make sure everything is incorporated. Â Slice or chop lamb/protein and add back into pan of sauce. Â Simmer all until slightly thickened — about 10 minutes. Taste and season with salt/pepper if necessary. Â When ready to serve, stir in chopped fresh mint and serve over brown basmati rice. Â A simple cucumber salad dressed with olive oil, lime juice, and mint is a great side dish.