Over the weekend Intern and I tested some of our newly acquired Indian cooking skills, by inviting over a chef, and her partner for a little dinner party. Nothing turns on the heat like making a two-time tested recipe (along with a handful of untested ones) for discerning guests. Although we did sweat it a bit before our guests arrived, they were of course very gracious and wonderful to have over to our home. We served a selection of snacks to start: namak pare, papadam, tamarind and mint-cilantro chutneys, along with mediocre pakoras, haleem, and store-bought coconut ice cream to finish.
When we were back in Seattle, Intern’s mom finally gave in to my pleading, and taught us how to make haleem. Haleem is a hearty Indian porridge, made with barley, lentils, an army of spices and beef. Making haleem is a multi-step process starting the evening before, then slow cooked all day, to achieve a thick stew consistency. After 6-8 hours of cooking, the beef is removed and shredded by hand, while the stew is blended a bit, and the beef returned to the pot. The best part of haleem may be the toppings though: grated ginger, fried onions, diced green chili, lime and cilantro. It is quite possibly the most comforting and satisfying dish during the winter, though we did have some disagreements over there was room in the menu for some fresh vegetables. Apparently, there was not. The haleem was a hit, although I will be the first to admit my vegetable pakoras should have been tossed out. They were crap. Everyone was nice enough to eat them anyway.
Our arsenal of competent indian recipes is growing thanks to the help of Intern’s mother. We’re slowly branching out from our standard daal and keema recipes, and trying out new chutneys, achar and cooking methods. We finally visited Jai Ho Indian Grocery on Filmore, and were pretty pleased with the selection. Get in there if you haven’t been before, and say hello to the nicest Auntie and Uncle working behind the counter.