With the snow finally melted all around me and the cold wave falling to a bearable low, you would think that I’m finally at peace with the weather. But I can only disagree ever so slightly. Now, I’m not much of a difficult person to please, except of course that one particular time when… Ohh, let’s not get into that now, shall we! Sometimes I wonder if a change in preferences defines the epitome of growing older. Well, in many ways, I’m quite sure it does. As I write this, calmly seated at my desk overlooking the big windows in my study, I can’t help but feel nostalgia creep up as I watch the rain pour down.
My fondest memory of rain is of this one particular season, when as a rebellious adolescent, I snuck out of my Mom’s watchful eyes and armed with a bright pink umbrella, tip-toed into our terrace. Terraces are a wonderful gift of many classic Indian houses. With the open space perfect for sun drying large bulks of laundry, it’s also a wonderful go-to for those lovely late night parties with an open feel. Children and adults alike can easily be spotted lazying on cool mats, soaking in the warm sun on fresh spring and summer days. A boon, those open terraces, especially for people like me who love to escape with a bright pink umbrella on a rainy day, if only to dance! And dance did I!
That day brings with it the fond memories of me being soaked despite the umbrella, of Mom catching me doing my jig in the rain and pulling me back into the warmth of our living room, and especially of the aromatic comfort food laid out on the dining table ready to be gorged on.
It’s funny how every fond memory I have of my childhood always has some connection to food. But what’s even more surprising is my craving for particular food at any given time. And while I write this post, looking out the window at the rain washing whatever little is left of the snow on the ground, I can’t help but feel the warmth embrace me through the aroma coming from my kitchen. Yes, it’s almost lunch time, and I hear my plate calling.
SPICED LAMB PILAF
Prep time: 15 min | Cooking time: 30 min | Serves: 2
Special equipment recommended:
1/2 lb boneless lamb, cubed
7-8 black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
5-6 cardamom pods
2 tbsp light cooking oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp parprika
a pinch oregano
salt & pepper, to taste
1 tsp tomato paste
2 cups Basmati rice
1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed
handful of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
water, as needed
Pressure cook lamb with cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon, bay leaves, cardamom and a pinch of salt in enough water to cover it, till tender. Remove lamb pieces from the stock, and set aside to cool.
Heat oil in a non-stick pan and saute garlic and onions till tender and fragrant. Add in cumin powder, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper, and fry for a minute. Mix in the lamb pieces and saute for a few minutes till lightly browned. Add in tomato paste and mix to blend well.
Add in 1 3/4 cups of water, and once it starts to come to a boil, stir in rice and peas. Let it simmer covered, on a low heat till all the water evaporates and the rice is cooked through. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve warm.