There’s something about early mornings. Pitch black outside, not a soul to be found and utter silence inside the house, all around, just the static of the baby monitor sitting next to me filling up the space alongwith the sweet aroma of my ginger cardamom chai brewing on the stove top. For a mom of two little kids, this is the real happy hour. These few golden moments of complete stillness and hush in the morning are much more therapeutic than a retreat.
When I left the room both the girls were sharing the bed, my bed! The little monkey moved from her crib and the butterfly walked in from her room woken up by the sound of my alarm, complaining it’s too loud. Camped on my bed for sometime and dozed off cuddling with each other. Through the baby monitor I can listen to the sound of their breaths still making a little wheezing sound because of the residual cough in the chest. As the sun is slowly coming up and morning light is slowly sifting in through the glass door of my family room, I know it is time to wake them up. Still stalling though as I want to finish my chai in peace before the madness starts in the house. Last couple minutes, golden you see!
When amongst the daily frenzy, my head cannot stay still, I crave for this time in hopes that I will reflect. For some strange reason though and to my disappointment, all I do is think of food. Food that I should test, food that I have tried, food that I liked and many that I did not, some I want to write about and some I will never revisit. Right now when I could write about any thoughts buried in the depth of my heart, I am thinking of dinner I made last night and sitting here writing about it. Mind can be so funny!
This Lamb Tagine recipe I found on epicurious was dinner. And it was a general consensus around the house that it was good. Great infact! The butterfly who if you know her, know that she’s the real food critic in the house using heavy words and matured hand motions to define the flavors in her food, said, well, she’s speechless! I made a few changes in the original recipe because of the absence of a few ingredients but although Moroccan nothing in here, in this recipe is anything out of the unusual from an Indian pantry. If you love robust flavors and comforting stews then you will love this dish. I served it with some saffron infused couscous and a happy squirt of lemon juice.
Ingredients: Serves 3-4 (Adapted from Epicurious)
1 1/2 lbs 1″ cubes of lamb shoulder
Salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (coarsely crushed)
1 can (15oz) organic, low sodium chickpeas
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup red onion (chopped) Feel free to use any variety
3 cloves garlic (2 chopped, 1 whole)
1 1/2 teaspoon ginger (minced)
3 teaspoon Ras-El Hanout
1 cup canned, diced tomato (with juice) Can use fresh as well.
1/3 cup dried Monnukah raisins (substituted for dried appricots)
Add salt and pepper to the lamb. Mix well. Cover. Pop into the refrigerator for atleast 30 mins. (The original recipe moved on to the next step right away. I always marinate my meat for sometime. Helps break the muscles and makes it tender.)
Heat oil in a tagine pan or a cast iron pan if you do not have tagine. Add lamb in small batches, not crowding the pan and brown them from outside. Takes about 3-4 minutes. Fish them out of the pan and into a bowl to be used later, leaving the oil on the pan.
Add onion and salt. Sautee for about 5 minutes or until the onion is golden. Add garlic and ginger. Cook for a minute. Add Ras-El-Hanout. Stir. Add tomato. Stir. Add lamb with the juice and all. Stir. Add water. Bring it to boil on high. Turn the heat to low. Cover leaving a small opening for the steam to escape. Cook for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add chickpeas. Stir. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add raisins. Cook for another 5 minutes, uncovered. Turn off the heat. Garnish with cilantro. Serve hot over couscous.