Saturday, March 26, 2016

Around the World in 80 Dishes: Pakistan

The last chapter of my personal challenge, Around the World in 80 Dishes, involved preparing a main course from India.  The dish was Rogan Josh.  It was a Kashmiri version of the traditional lamb stew or curry; but, the recipe shared one thing in common with other Rogan Josh recipes: it was full of flavorful spices.   

The next challenge does not take me very far, at least geographically.   In fact, it is just across the border from India ... Pakistan.  The two countries are very different, but, when it comes to cuisines, there are some commonalities.  One overarching similarity between Pakistani and Indian cuisines is that there are significant differences from region to region.  The cuisine in the Punjab and Sindh regions is very seasoned and spicy, similar to what you might find in southern India.  The further north you go in Pakistan, just as in India, the dishes are less spicy, but no less flavorful.

Another overarching similarity is that both Pakistan and India draw from some common influences.  The dishes that may appear on the tables in Pakistan, just like in India, draw from Afghan, Persian, and Central Asian cuisines.  Pakistani dishes also draw inspiration from Indian dishes (vice versa).

The challenge in this case is one such example.  The recipe is Karahi Gosht, a very spicy lamb curry that can be found in both Pakistan and India. For this challenge, however, I have to focus on the version of the dish that I might find on the streets of Lahore:

A "karahi" is a thick circular deep cooking pot, like the one in the video above.  "Gosht" is mutton or lamb.  Thus, Karahi Gosht is literally lamb cooked in a pot.  Other meats, such as chicken or goat could be substituted for the lamb.  One could even make a version of this dish with paneer, if you have any vegetarians (like my beautiful Angel) in your family.  I decided to stick with mutton or lamb.  Actually, I went with lamb because mutton can be hard to find in most supermarkets around where I live.   I used a couple pounds of butterflied leg of lamb, although lamb shoulder would probably work just as well, if not better.

As for the karahi, that kind of cooking pot is not one that I have lying around my kitchen (although after making this recipe, I have been looking for one).  I substituted a wide saute pan with curved sides.  While it may not be truly authentic, it worked well nonetheless.

Recipe from Scientific Psychic
Serves 4-8

2 pounds of lamb or mutton, cut into cubes 
3 medium onions, finely chopped
1 large tomato, diced
5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
2 pieces of fresh turmeric (or 1 tablespoon ground)
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 lemon juiced
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon mustard seed
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 1/2 cups of water

1.  Prepare the lamb or mutton.  Put the lamb pieces in a bowl and sprinkle with salt and lemon juice, stir and set aside for 20 minutes.

2.  Saute the vegetables and spices.   Set a pot on medium heat, add the cooking oil and saute the chopped onion,s garlic, ginger and turmeric until golden brown and fragrant (If you are using ground turmeric, wait until you add the spices.)  Add cumin, cinnamon, ground coriander, mustard seeds, garam masala, cloves, allspice and chilies.  Stir until fragrant and well mixed.  

3.  Cook the lamb.  Add the lamb pieces and stir until the spices cover the meat.   Add the water, cover the pot, and lower the heat to simmer for about 45 minutes until the lamb is cooked.

4.  Finish the dish.  When the meat is tender, add the chopped cilantro and tomato and mix well.  Serve with basmati rice.

*     *     *

As with the Rogan Josh, the Karahi Gosht was a success.  It reminded me of why I love South Asian cuisine.  The various spices that went into the dish -- from allspice to mustard, along with the blend of garam masala -- never disappoints my palate.  With this challenge completed, I have made main courses from four countries in the South Asian region: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Pakistan.  That leaves only a handful of challenges from this region, such as Sri Lanka and Nepal.  Those will have to await another day.  It is time to move on to another part of the world for the next challenge.  Until next time ...


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