Among my guilty pleasures is “The Next Food Network Star,” which I have found to be a fairly interesting look at what makes someone a good TV host (not simply a good cook, like on Top Chef). I like the judges and find their discussions of the business of TV fascinating. And last season I loved one contestant from the very first episode on: Aarti Sequira, who went on to win the whole shebang with her combination of warm TV persona and delicious-looking Indian twists on familiar foods.
We watch her show, Aarti Party, regularly, and it’s the only cooking show aside from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie at Home that has ever inspired me to actually look up the recipes online and try them. A few weeks ago Aarti made Kheema, a beef dish that she described as ultimate childhood comfort food. (She was raised Catholic, so beef isn’t an issue in her cooking; my friend Kabir is from a similar background and came over shortly after I’d made this; he apparently loved kheema as a kid and was more than willing to eat up the leftovers.)
This recipe is VERY easy. I’m enjoying my new forays into Indian cooking; the technique is very different from what I’m used to: recipes (from Aarti and elsewhere) tend to start with slowly browning onions and then combining them with spices to make almost a sticky paste to which you add liquids and additional ingredients.
Pretty spices at the ready (coriander, paprika, garam masala, cumin, cayenne):
Onions get going:
Lots of garlic and ginger–by far the slowest part of the recipe is prepping them; easily avoided by having Aarti’s ginger-garlic paste (“recipe” at the end here) on hand in the fridge–join the browned onions:
Cook in the spices:
Add a pound of ground beef:
Cook it through, then add water, salt and pepper, tomato (and peas):
Simmer briefly, add some cider vinegar for kick and cilantro if you’re more organized than I am (also I hate cilantro) and you’re done.
We ate it rapidly, with naan.
I know that doesn’t look like much but it really was a very comforting, warm dish. I need to make it again, this time with something green added at the end–maybe parsley in place of the cilantro?
By the way, I think I’ve nailed down another reason I haven’t been blogging. We got recessed lights put into our kitchen last spring, and while the light is now much, much better for cooking, it’s horrible for photos–shadows no matter where I go, harsh light that makes everything look greasy and gross. Blah. I wonder what the solution is for kitchen lighting that works for cooking AND for photos: So much everywhere that the shadows aren’t a problem?