Mother has arrived in London. In true Basu style, she ignored my pleas about every spice being available here and brought a lifetime’s supply of Kashmiri Masala and Kasuri Methi. Her mission, two-fold. To fatten her darling children. And to be the grandma with the mostest to the toddlers.
Now mother is more used to being fabulous than chopping onions. Far better at directing than doing. This is the star of the silver screen cum drama therapy practitioner that has most adults quivering with her fierce gaze and sharp words. Frankly, I’m just hoping she never reads this blog post. I may end up in a naughty corner myself.
But she is here to respond to a higher calling. I have a new job starting in November, which means I have the rare privilege of enjoying the brief life of a lady of leisure. The man and I are off to Phuket in Thailand for a dear friend’s wedding. And we are leaving the kids behind in the firm grip of mother, with nanny K and little sis ably assisting.
Preparations for the trip have started in earnest. Mother has successfully caused a short-term weight gain, while she masters gadgets and the toddler military regime. I have ordered a pair of denim shorts, checked into a kettlebells class and slowly started contemplating the reality of a week without the darling terrors.
Truth be told, I am about as worried about them as I am about mother turmeric staining my pristine new quartz worktop.
While strong women rule my roost, I am also missing the annual tryst with Ma Durga, the fierce Hindu warrior Goddess. I am not religious but this yearly celebration of good versus evil is our way to reconnect with London’s Bengali society. I will miss this, while sunning myself on a beach with a pina colada. Although I will be back in time for Halloween, Bonfire night and Diwali.
In anticipation of these important events, and in celebration of the strong women in my life, I made a Bengali moist lamb saute with no onions and garlic made specially during religious festivities called Niramish Mangsho. This translates to vegetarian meat which, of course, is an oxymoron. But the bottom line is that it tastes sublime and sports a thick and rich masala coating that I ended up licking off the empty pot. The key here is to use lamb or goat meat on the bone.
Have a fantastic festive season everyone. Say a prayer for my kids and the worktop, will ya?
Roast the whole cumin on a warm frying pan for a minute until you can smell its aroma. Then powder using a coffee grinder or pestle and mortar. Grate the ginger. Then marinade the meat in the spices powders, the ginger and the yoghurt. I left this overnight in the fridge as I was going to be back late from work, but a couple of hours will be enough.
Take the meat out of the fridge well before you are ready to cook to bring it to room temperature. In a large pot, warm the mustard oil on a high heat. When a wooden spoon sizzles when it touches the oil, drop in the whole spices. As they sizzle up in seconds, spoon in the meat with it’s marinade. On a high heat, viciously mix the meat browning it evenly as you go along for five minutes. Nest, lower the heat to medium, pour in two cups of water, cover and cook the meat for half an hour.
You need to make sure you are stirring the meat every five minutes to prevent it from getting stuck or burning. After half an hour, take the lid off and let the curry bubble away, while the meat cooks. remember to keep stirring. While this is happening, make a cashew paste. I put the cashews in a hand blender with two tablespoons of water. In the last 15 minutes of cooking. mix this into the meat, then lower the heat to medium low and let the oil ooze to the top of the pot.
The meat takes a good hour of cooking to become really tender, and it may take you more. If you are going to pressure cook this, I would definitely recommend marinating to get the best flavour.
Serve this with lime wedges, cholar dal and steaming hot rice for a festive meal. Or just with some ready store parathas for an easy supper like I did.