Tuesday, October 2, 2012

IHCC: Welcome Madhur Jaffrey!

Madhur Jaffrey has been a frequent visitor in our kitchen for years now, starting first, I think, with her World of the East Vegetarian Cooking, which I must have gotten when it was quite new. After we moved to the Netherlands, I discovered Indian Cooking after catching a few episodes of the related TV series on the BBC. Jaffrey's been a favorite author ever since then. I have seven of her books listed at Cookbooker, but there may be others that I've not yet added, and, undoubtedly, some new ones will appear in the next months.

Starting this month, I'm going to join I Heart Cooking Clubs for six months of weekly, cooking-with-Madhur-Jaffrey themes. I'm hoping this challenge will help me to expand my repertoire of Jaffrey recipes beyond the "old standards" and to try more of her recipes from other Asian areas. This week's theme welcomes Jaffrey to our kitchens.

When I started looking for something for the welcome theme, what started out to be a simple roast lamb and potatoes dinner for friends turned into a full Indian meal. I found a lamb dish that would use the shoulder I was planning to cook, then planned the meal around that. Except for the lamb, the other dishes are ones I've made repeatedly. Most, but not all, of the dishes are Jaffrey's, coming from my three most frequently used books.

For a starters, I made Onion Fritters (Pyaz ki Bhajia) (Q&E, p20). I wanted to make Fresh Green Chutney (Q&E, p113) that is advised in the headnote. This is very much like one of our favorite restaurant chutneys that's often served with onion bhaji, as we were very pleased to find when I first tried this recipe. But there was no mint to be found either in the shops or in the garden, so instead I made Tamarind Chutney (from a non-Jaffrey recipe), which is another simple chutney we like a lot. [N.B.: the codes in parentheses following a recipes are by own personal shorthand for referring to my cookbooks. The links lead to a corresponding page at Amazon.]

We don't do much deep-frying around here, but onion bhaji are a treat we enjoy every once in a while. They are quick and easy to mix up, but the frying takes a bit of time, so it's a bit questionable to find this recipe in a "quick and easy" cookbook. There's a problem with this recipe: it doesn't tell you how much water to add to the batter. I use a short half cup to make a workable batter.

For the main course, I chose Lamb with Onions (Do piaza) (MJ1, p46), a dish I've never made before. The recipe (like many of Jaffrey's recipes) calls for what seems like an extraordinary amount of oil (10 tablespoons). I started with half that amount for frying the onions, and added bits more as required while browning the meat. I used the largest amount of cayenne shown, and the dish was spicy but not at all "challenging." This a good company dish because you can do all the preparation early. It simmers without much attention for a long while and isn't fussy about exact timing at that point. Not to mention that it's delicious, with tender chunks of lamb in a tasty sauce.

I served this with Rice and Peas with Garam Masala (Matar Aur Sooay Ka Pullao) (SpiceKitch, p65), one of many nice rice dishes in Jaffrey's books.

With the lamb and rice, I served Yoghurt with Cucumber and Mint (Kheere ka Raita) (MJ1, p162), which is my go-to recipe for raita. I made about a half recipe for four people, and we had a dab leftover. Milk-based dishes are nice to serve with spicy things, since the milk helps cool the burn.

I saw Jaffrey make this raita on the TV. She decorated the dish by sprinkling on an X of sweet paprika and floating mint leaves in the spaces between. These tiny leaves were about the last bits in my garden. The paprika spread out quite a bit as I carried the bowl to the table.

For dessert I made no-cook kulfi (a recipe I found on the web quite a while ago) and froze individual portions in custard cups. To serve, I turned these out and surrounded with chunks of mango.

All that to welcome six months of cooking with Madhur Jaffrey and to entertain our friends. I'm really looking forward to joining this project!


  1. That is one delicious dinner! I only have one of her books, but that will soon change! Last week was the first time that I've tried her recipes and now I'm totally a fan of MJ! It is going to be a delicious six months!
    Hope you have a great weekend ahead!

  2. Wow - what a beautiful feast you made! I tried the fritters too - delicious!

  3. What a fabulous feast, Kaye - a great welcome for Madhur Jaffrey. I'm really looking forward to this next 6 months - I'm sure my cookbook collection is going to grow!!

    Love that idea for presentation of the raita too - I have to try that.

  4. You went all out! What a wonderful feast. Everything looks so good. So glad to have you with us cooking Jaffrey's recipes.