May 10, 2010

Success: Beef Tenderloin with Black Cumin Curry, with Long Green Beans and New Potatoes in Mustard Seed Curry

Both of these recipes are from Vij's: Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine, our favourite Indian cookbook from one of the best Indian restaurants anywhere (which happens to be in Vancouver). We've made the beef tenderloin part before, but on that occasion the black cumin curry was disastrous because the very first ingredient - the black cumin seeds - were rancid. But we didn't know that until we tasted the resultant curry sauce and found it inedibly bitter. So this time we stuck with green cumin seeds and roasted them first. But I digress!

Recipes and more photos after the jump!

Black Cumin Curry
1/2 cup ghee
2-1/2 cups finely chopped onions (2 medium to large)
1 Tbsp roasted black cumin seeds
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1Tbsp ground coriander
1 cup finely chopped tomatoes (1 large)
5 cups chicken stock
1 cup water

Melt ghee in a medium pot on medium heat. Add onions  and cumin seeds and stir.  (And here's how that looks.)

Sauté onions for 10 minutes, then add flour, stir well, and reduce the heat to low. Stirring regularly, cook flour for 6-7 minutes. The flour will darken.  (And it does, see?)

Add salt, cayenne, ground cumin, coriander, and tomatoes, stir well, and cook for 5 minutes. The masala will be quite doughy.  Add chicken stock and water, and increase the heat to medium. Stir well. Bring to a boil, uncovered, then turn off the heat.

To serve: Arrange a steak on each plate. Ladle curry over each serving.

And to go with, something with a little more fire. The black cumin gravy is a nice cool counterpoint to this vegetable dish.

Long Green Beans and New Potatoes in Mustard Seed Curry
9 oz. new potatoes
1/2 cup canola oil
1-1/2 Tbsp cumin seeds
3 cups pureed tomatoes (6 large tomatoes)
1 Tbsp ground black mustard seeds
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp crushed cayenne pepper
1 tsp turmeric
4-1/2 cups water
9 oz. green beans, strings removed, cut in half

Thoroughly wash the potatoes, then cut each one into 4 to 6 slices.

In a medium pot, heat oil on high for 1 minute. Sprinkle in cumin sees, stir, and allow to sizzle for about 30 seconds. Reduce the heat to medium and add tomatoes, mustard seeds, salt, cayenne, and turmeric. Stir well and cook this masala for 5 to 8  minutes, or until oil glistens on top. Stir in water and bring to a boil on medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the curry still seems very runny and watery, boil for another 5 minutes. The spices and the water should be very well mixed together at the end of boiling.

Turn down the heat to medium-low. Add potatoes and cook at a medium boil, covered, for 5-8 minutes. Add green beans, stir well, and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
To serve: Serve piping hot in six individual bowls.

I have to thank my internet friend Helen, who sent me this brilliant link to the Cook's Thesaurus's Indian Spices page, which reassured me that toasted green cumin would be fine in place of black cumin (which we couldn't find), and that if we hadn't found black mustard, yellow would have done just fine (black's yellow inside anyway.)

The curry sauce for the veggies is really watery, and I'm sure I cooked it down longer than 15 minutes. If I were making this again, I would cut back on the four and a half cups of water. To maybe two and half. And see how that went. I think I'd also cut way back on the vegetable oil. Even though most of the sauce will get thrown out, I still think this recipe would work with about half as much oil.

If you like Indian food, and are not fortunate enough to live close enough to pop in to Vij's restaurant any time you please, I highly recommend this cookbook. Everything we've made from it has been fantastically tasty. Both chefs really know their spices and how to combine them and in what proportions, to bring out the flavour of food without necessarily adding heat.

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