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From a mogul emperor to Marin County.

INDIAN-BORN HARISH LAL hails from Delhi, where he trained to become a chef, a trade he now plies in Mill Valley, California. His repertoire of dishes includes some favorites handed down from a precolonial Mogul emperor famous for his interest in subtle and complex dishes. Shahi Korma, a delectable, spicy lamb stew thickened with ground cashews, stems from this source.

Chef Lal's stew is nicely exotic even without the seasonings he has made optional for your convenience. But he suggests that cooks willing to trek to a well-stocked Indian food store (his favorite--in Berkeley, California--is as good as ones back home, he reports) will find it rewarding to make the dish as recorded by the emperor. Items that you may not have on hand are garam masala, a spice blend with many variations (pick one that smells good to you); methi, or fenugreek (a seed, ground and often included in curry powder blends and in Moroccan dishes); and aromatic black cardamom, which is used whole.

Shahi Korma
2 large (about 1 lb. total) onions
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon salad oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon cardamom seed
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 whole cloves
1 to 1 1/2 pounds boned and fat-trimmed lamb shoulder,
cut into about 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon garam masala or curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons methi (ground fenugreek, optional)
1 whole black cardamom pod (optional)
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads (optional)
1 cup unflavored yogurt
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup salted, roasted cashews
6 cups hot cooked rice
 About 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro (coriander)

Chop onions and put in a 5- to 6-quart pan with garlic, salad oil, ginger, cardamom seed, cumin seed, peppercorns, and cloves. Cover and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are limp, about 15 minutes. Uncover and turn heat to high. Stir until onions are slightly browned, about 15 minutes longer.

In a blender or food processor, whirl onion mixture until smoothly pureed. Return to pan and add lamb, raisins, garam masala, methi, black cardamom pod, saffron, yogurt, and cream. Bring to boil on high heat; cover and simmer gently until meat is very tender when pierced, about 50 minutes.

As meat cooks, whirl about 1/4 cup of the cashews into a fine powder in a blender or food processor.

When meat is tender, stir ground and whole cashews into the pan. Ladle onto cooked rice; sprinkle with cilantro. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Per serving: 593 cal. (32 percent from fat); 25 g protein; 21 g fat (8 g sat.); 76 g carbo.; 154 mg sodium; 77 mg chol.

SCOTT MALCOLM CALLS his one-person, one-dish fish dinner Ruffy Simplisticado. We think of it, in our faux Spanish, as Roughy Sophisticado. The fish, simply sauteed, is cradled by romaine and onion warmed with cream. Not-so-strange bedfellows are carrots and basmati rice.

We're flattered to be numbered among those who receive Malcolm's sporadic circular letter titled The J/Scott Food-A-Month Club, the source of this recipe.

Ruffy Simplisticado
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 small (4 to 6 oz. total) carrots, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 fillet (about 7 oz.) orange roughy, rinsed and patted dry
2 tablespoons whipping cream
 About 3/4 cup finely slivered rinsed and crisped romaine
 About 1 cup hot cooked basmati rice
 Chopped parsley
 About 1 tablespoon finely chopped roasted, salted
macadamia nuts (optional)
 Salt and pepper

In an 8- to 10-inch frying pan, combine onion and 2 tablespoons water. Stir onion often over medium-high heat until water in pan evaporates; pour the onion into a small bowl.

In pan, combine carrots and 1/4 cup water. Stir often over medium-high heat until water evaporates; pour carrots into another small bowl.

Place frying pan over medium-high heat; add oil. When oil is hot, lay roughy fillet in pan and cook until edges turn opaque. Turn with a wide spatula and continue to cook until fish is opaque but stiff moist-looking in center of thickest part (cut to test), about 9 minutes total. Transfer fish to a plate and keep warm.

Wipe pan clean, set on high heat, and add carrots and 1 tablespoon water; stir until carrots are hot. Pour beside fish.

To pan on high heat, add onion and cream; when cream boils, stir in romaine until wilted. Spoon rice beside fish and pour vegetable mixture over both. Sprinkle with parsley and nuts; season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes 1 serving.

Per serving: 728 cal. (36 percent from fat); 38 g protein; 29 g fat (6.8 g sat.); 78 g carbo.; 184 mg sodium; 73 mg chol.
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Title Annotation:Chefs of the West: Adventures with Food; recipes; Indian cuisine in Mill Valley, California
Author:Dunmire, Richard; Griffiths, Joan
Date:Feb 1, 1993
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