Beef Korma with Pooris

Between traveling and convalescing, I haven’t had the time or energy to cook a Madhur Jaffrey recipe in a while.  I’ve been looking forward to getting back to it.  I finally managed to do a beef korma last night, although my cooking skills were rusty– it took a while to get back into my comfort zone!  I’m going to try to do fewer heavy meat dishes like this… but I’m only human, and korma is good.

I thawed stew meat with the intention of making beef roganjosh again, but when I got home from work I realized I was missing a few key ingredients, and of course the store was already closed.  Joe had prepped ingredients already, so I decided to do beef korma, which uses similar ingredients.  It worked, mostly.  I also decided to leave the little metal spoons in their drawer.  I haven’t done this precise dish before, but I have done it with chicken, so I have some familiarity with the process.

The recipe has you brown some onions for garnish, then remove them and brown the meat in the onion-flavored oil, then make the sauce and put the meat back into it to simmer.  You’re supposed to chop the onion into half rings for browning, but Joe had prepped for roganjosh so the onions were very finely chopped.  I decided to go ahead and brown them, which worked beautifully until it came time to take them out of the oil.  I had a really hard time catching them all and fishing them out before they could burn– important, because you don’t want burnt onions all through your meat.  I ended up pouring a bit of hot oil on my hand and then dropping an entire bowl into the pan!  Yeah.  Off my game, people, seriously.  Don’t ask me to operate any heavy machinery.

After I got the sauce ready to go, I added the meat back into the pan to simmer.  At this point, Jaffrey says to simmer it for half an hour, add the almond-pecan paste, and then give it another 25-30 minutes.  But I’d halved the recipe; I was using beef rather than lamb; and I was hungry and ready to watch Eureka, so I decided to play the simmering time by ear.  I ended up simmering for 20 minutes, adding the nut paste, and giving it another 10.  The beef ended up a little tough, though, so I guess I jumped the gun a bit.  The sauce, however, turned out really delicious.

Joe made poori dough while I was at work, so after I got things simmering, he started heating the oil and I started kneading the dough.  We learned last time we made pooris that it’s best not to roll them out too thin– about four inches, five at most, does the trick.  This time, we learned that speed is key during frying.  If you aren’t quick enough at turning the pooris once they puff, they’ll overcook and become crispy.  Joe mastered the technique about three pooris in, and this was probably the best batch we’ve made since the first time.  I’m totally amazed at how well certain dishes are complemented by specific breads.  Eating pooris with a beef dish like this has an effect similar to eating a good piece of cheese with just the right wine– the flavors of both are enhanced more than you’d ever suspect. 

Lessons:

-If you’re going to use stew meat, the simmering time matters.  Hmm, I know it works for dal but I’m not sure about beef… would this be a job for our friend Mr. Pressure Cooker?  Or would he do strange things to the meat?  I’m totally inexperienced with pressure cookers.  Readers?

-Speed matters when frying pooris.  Don’t hesitate to flip them the second they puff.

-Try not to spill hot oil on yourself.  Also, avoid dropping things into hot oil.

-Do not grab at things randomly and accidentally cause balls of dough to scatter everywhere, or your wife will become cranky.  Right, Joe? 🙂

-Pay attention to food/bread pairings.  It’s been my experience, in my limited explorations of Indian cuisine, that people have strong opinions and traditions about which breads go with which dishes.  Those pairings exist for a reason, and serving the correct bread with a dish really does make a difference to the flavors of both.

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