I haven’t posted enough food diaries lately, so here’s a thread for protein-rich main dishes. I love my carbs, but I’ve been trying to eat less pasta, rice and other grains.
After the jump you’ll find the recipe for tonight’s dinner, which I adapted from “Ground Meat in Cashew Nut Sauce with Chick-peas” in Julie Sahni’s fantastic book Classic Indian Cooking. I highly recommend the cookbook if you want to make Indian food at home. Although it includes chapters on meat, there are plenty of good recipes for vegetarians here. I used Sahni’s book for about 10 years before I ever tried any of her meat dishes.
Please post your own favorite high-protein meals (with or without meat) in the comments.
Sahni’s recipe called for more onions and two pounds beef or lamb, a larger can of chick peas, and more salt. I use one pound of ground grass-fed beef from Wallace Farms, partly because grass-fed beef is so much leaner. The Iowa Food Cooperative carries locally produced meat from many other sustainable farmers.
1 large onion, chopped finely
2 large garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 Tbsp fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped finely
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 bay leaves
1 pound ground beef or lamb
1 tsp salt
tomatoes to taste (Depending on what I have available, I use a few fresh tomatoes, peeled and diced, or 1 undrained can chopped tomatoes or 1 can/jar tomato paste plus some water, or 12 oz strained tomatoes.)
3 Tbsp cashew butter (Sahni warns not to overdo it on the cashew butter)
1 15-oz can chick peas, drained and rinsed
2 tsp garam masala
Heat about 4 Tbsp vegetable oil in a large pan and saute the onions. This part takes a long time, so I start the onions and assemble the other ingredients while the onions are cooking. I measure all the dry spices and put them in a small bowl or cup so I can add them quickly later.
Stir the onions frequently over medium heat until they are caramel brown. This can easily take 20 minutes.
Add chopped garlic and ginger, and cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid burning. Add dry spices and bay leaves, and stir a few times. Then quickly add ground meat. Break it up and cook until it’s well-browned. If you use lean grass-fed beef or lamb, you won’t have extra grease to drain from the pan.
When the meat is browned, add salt, tomatoes, nut butter and chick peas. Depending on how many tomatoes you use, you may need to add a little water to get the thickness you like. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes. Stir a few times during this period. (It’s fine to leave it simmering for a lot longer than that, or to make this dish a day ahead and reheat.)
If the dish seems too thin for you, you can turn up the heat and boil off some of the extra liquid, but stir occasionally so the bottom doesn’t burn.
Just before serving, stir in garam masala (another option is to dry-roast 2 tsp of cumin seeds and grind them in a spice grinder).
You can serve this with any Indian bread. We usually serve it over warmed tortillas. If you’re cutting back on carbs, just pour it into a bowl and eat it with a spoon.