Thursday, October 18, 2012

Cumin-Coriander Beef Patties and Green Tomato Curry

There are very few dishes that I am instantly completely and utterly enamored of.  Dishes that I never want to change in any way.  Dishes that are completely perfect as is.  I had a good feeling about this meal, but I thought it had the potential to go wrong in a big way.  I was fairly certain the Cumin Coriander Beef Patties would be good because those flavors are ones that we are pretty familiar with.  We use a lot of cumin, cayenne and coriander in the apartment and we know they taste marvelous together.  And let's be honest - ground beef is a pretty forgiving medium.  How often have you had a truly bad hamburger?  And they were very tasty - with a nice crust on the exterior and tender and aromatic interiors.  If you look at the picture above you can see the flecks of cilantro and onion in the patties.  Yum.  But the Green Tomato Curry made me a little nervous - I figured it had the potential to either be surprising and delicious, or just plain weird.  But I think Alex's word's said it all, "This... is awesome."  And I concurred.  It was amazing.  The Green Tomato Curry had the most amazingly vibrant combination of tartness, heat and sweetness.  I loved it.  It was funky and delicious.  It had a lot going on, but everything just worked together so... perfectly.  I think this is the first Sri Lankan recipe we have ever attempted at home and it was a smashing success. Yay!  I knew Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid wouldn't let me down.  Strangely enough, earlier this week I had decided to do both of these recipes this week on different nights before I realized that the cookbook actually suggested serving them together.  Pure genius.  They really worked together, although I suppose you could serve the curry with a number of different kebob recipes or serve the patties with a number of different side dishes.  They don't have to be served together; they just worked very nicely together.  We served everything with frozen garlic naan from Trader Joe's, but I think the recipes would also work with basmati rice or roti.  Anyway, I wish there was more to say about these recipes but there really isn't, except to say that if you like spicy dishes, you should make this one ASAP.

P.S.  I know that neither of these dishes look all that impressive, but don't let that dissuade you from making them because they really are stunning.  They just aren't very pretty.

Recipes after the jump!

Cumin-Coriander Beef Patties
Adapted from Mangoes & Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent
By Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

about 1 lb lean ground beef (we used a combination of ground beef and ground lamb because it was what we had)
1/2 cup red onion, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced 
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne (we used 1/2 tsp, but adjust for your heat preference)
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup plain yogurt (we used full fat Greek yogurt)
1 tsp rice vinegar
1/4-1/2 cup coriander leaves, chopped (or 1/4 cup minced mint leaves)
vegetable oil

In a large bowl, mix the meat, ginger (optional), onion, cumin, coriander, cayenne, salt, yogurt and vinegar.  Mix well with your hands, mashing and kneading to blend the flavors and get a smooth texture.  You can refrigerate the mixture at this point, covered, for several hours.  Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.

Mix in the coriander leaves (or mint leaves).

With wet hands shape and firmly press the meat into eight medium patties - either ovals or rounds that are about 3/4-inch thick.  Place formed patties on a plate that has been lightly oiled. 

To cook the patties you have three options - you can grill the patties on a lightly oiled rack over medium heat, turning once after 5 minutes and continuing to cook on the second side until done. You can broil them 5 to 7 inches from the heating element with the door of the broiler cracked open while you broil (turning them occasionally) and cooking for about 8 minutes.  Your third option is to pan fry them in 1-2 tbsp oil over medium-high heat for approximately 3 to 4 minutes on each side.  We pan-fried.


Green Tomato Curry
Mangoes & Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent
By Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped onion
2 green cayenne chilis, seeded and chopped
6-8 fresh or frozen curry leaves
1 tsp Maldive fish, or substitute bonito flakes, finely ground (optional)
1/4 tsp ground fenugreek
pinch of tumeric
1 lb green or semi-ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped (2 cups)
2 tsp salt
3/4 cup canned or fresh coconut milk (we used slightly less)

Heat the oil in a medium heavy pot over medium-high heat.  When the oil is hot, add the onion, chili and curry leaves.  Cook until the onion is light brown, about 8-10 minutes.  Add the Maldive fish or bonito flakes, if using (we used bonito flakes), the fenugreek, turmeric, tomatoes and salt.  Cook for about 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes are very soft.

Add the coconut milk and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes.  

Serve hot or at room temperature.

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