I've told you folks before about quinoa - the miracle South American grain. It has such a high protein count (12%-15%) that alone it is considered a complete food. Throw in high fiber, low fat and calories and loads of vitamins and you've got yourself a winner. It's also pretty cool to say out loud. It is pronounced "keen-wa", which sounds like a Hawaii surf instructor.
Throwing it into a stew or a soup is a perfect way of cooking it and last night with the weather being so sh*t, and the favourite sister visiting, I decided to try and use it in a curry to be a bit different.
What you want to do is pour it in towards the end of cooking and let it simmer for about 30-40 minutes or until it has soaked up some sauce and the grains have plumped up a bit.
Okay, stuff you'll need to feed 4 people:
- About 850g of lamb-knuckle
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- 500ml of chicken stock
- 250g of dried apricots, roughly chopped
- one onion, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons of curry powder
- 1 tablespoon of cumin
- 1 tablespoon of turmeric
- 1 tablespoon of crushed cumin and fennel seeds (this is not absolutely necessary, but it will make a big difference so try and get them if you can.)
- A teaspoon of grated ginger
- Two cloves of garlic, crushed
- A big handful of frozen peas
- A handful of chopped coriander
- A cup of quinoa
Okay, what to do:
1. Preheat the oven to 140 degrees celsius. In a large pot, brown the lamb in olive oil and set aside.
2. Add the onion to the pot and cook gently for about 3 minutes. Add the spices, the ginger and the garlic and cook for about 1 minute more. Add splashes of water/olive oil to prevent anything from sticking. Add the lamb back to the spices and cook for 1 minute more.
3. Add the tomatoes, the apricots, the chicken stock and a large glass of water. Bring to the boil, take the pot off the hob and place in the oven, with the lid on. Cook for 4 hours. I know this seems very long but the meat will be ridiculously tender once you have done this. If you want, you can even do this in the morning on your way to work. Put the oven at 100 degrees celsius and leave it in the whole day.
4. With about an hour until service, take the pot out the oven, place on a gentle heat on the hob and remove the lid. Cook for 30 minutes and then add the quinoa. When the quinoa is ready (about 30 minutes, depending on the heat of the hob) add the frozen peas. Serve in deep bowls and garnish with coriander.
This is another slow-cooking dish but I just can't help but be drawn to this style of cooking when winter sets in. I find it so easy - once everything is prepped, you can basically just forget about it for hours. It is also a well-known fact that curries taste better the next day so if you're planning a dinner party cook this the day before, chuck it in the fridge and then re-heat it for the party. The flavours will have intensified and the meal will be a show-stopper. Plus, you can concentrate on the more important things when guests arrive. Like...how long until we can do the worm?