Like most people, I occasionally crave meals that I used to have when I lived with my parents or visited with my Grandmother. Sometimes I can work out what went into them, but there is rarely a recipe around that will replicate that taste of that time.
I’m not put off though. I guess every generation gets to create their own version and this is how recipes evolve. My Dad makes really nice curries. Naturally he never writes down the recipes and mostly plays the process by ear.
दही गोश्त (‘yogurt meat’ according to Google Translate) / Dahi Gosht is as close to the lamb in yoghurt that he makes. I don’t think he is as accident prone in the kitchen, but the ability to become distracted when cooking – that’s definitely hereditary.
As you’ll see while following this recipe – I burn things. I burn most savoury meals I cook. Cakes and sweets are no problem, but an evening meal? That usually comes with a side of charcoal (I heard that might aid digestion…ahem).
This was not an exception. But I am still claiming this one as a success, it was edible and contained nutritional value. That’s a win in the kitchen for me.
Do as I say, not as I do.
*Plan to make Dahi Gosht, from an online recipe similar to one your Dad made for many years.
*Waste some time chatting with him on the phone about 80’s computing and then finally remember why you made the call and ask what was in the recipe. He says he can’t remember – return to online search.
*Forget to buy lamb and ingredients to marinade overnight because you are phaffing about on the Internet. Make firm plans to head to supermarket the next day.
*Dutifully write out a list of ingredients – then halve them all unless you are feeding a large group of people or a small army.
*250g boneless leg of lamb (use 0.25kg because that’s what they had in the supermarket and you could not be bothered opening the weights and measures conversion app on your iPod)
*0.5 tsp of freshly ground pepper
*salt to taste
*0.5 tsp turmeric powder
*1.5 tbsp garlic and ginger paste (rather than buying big jars, I picked the ice-cube versions from the freezer section – there’s only so much ginger I can take)
*green chillies to taste finely chopped
*1.5 tbsp veg/sunflower oil
*1 medium-sized onion
*1.5 tbsp garam masala
*1.5 tsp coriander powder
*1.5 tsp cumin powder
* 2 bay leaves
*520g chopped tomatoes
*250 ml lamb stock
*1.5tbsp finely chopped mint leaves
*1.5tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
*0.5” piece of ginger julienned (fancy!)
– addition – finely chopped college greens because you crave iron like a starving vampire.
*Mix salt, pepper, yogurt, turmeric, half the ginger and garlic paste and chillies together repeating the mantra “I must not put my fingers near my eyes, I must not put my fingers in my eyes….”
*Add lamb to the mixture and pop the whole thing into a plastic tub to forget about it overnight.
*Much later in the evening, rub at your eyes and remember exactly why you didn’t want to do that.
*The next day, blithely wander out to the local mini market and buy a pizza entirely forgetting that you have been marinating meat all night. Spot the tub of meat as you try to shove the pizza into the fridge and sigh.
*Throw on cute apron and fondly remember buying it in a gift shop on the top of Table Mountain. Wonder about returning to South Africa but maybe not at this particular moment.
*Chop onions. Heat oil in a deep saucepan and throw them in. Add the rest of the garlic and ginger until the onions soften.
*Throw in tomatoes, cumin, coriander and 4 bay leaves, then pick two out again remembering you halved the recipe. Add garam masala and idly read the back of the packet while stirring the pot. Wonder about the ingredients being almost the same as the other powdered spices you have already added and consider skipping them next time.
*By now the whole kitchen should smell delicious and mild drooling should have begun.
*Take the marinated meat from the fridge and wonder if the bright yellow colour from the turmeric will stain the container. On closer inspection think about having seen too many sci-fi B movies and whether the contents of the container will leap out as a new life form.
*Shrug and add the meat and its sauce to the pot.
*Grab college greens, determined to up your levels of vegetable intake. Recoil. Most of the leaves are spotted and yellow. Decide to file these in the bin and continue with recipe as though nothing happened there.
*Note that the recipe says to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Return to office leaving the pot on a low heat.
*Ten minutes later while trying to mentally shotgun Lowian and Laschian theories on narcissism in relation to online activities, wonder why you can smell toast.
*Leap from office into kitchen and swear heartily at slightly burned contents of saucepan.
*Take the pot from the heat and put it on a wooden chopping board on your counter. Take a fresh saucepan and start pouring from one to the other without picking up the charred bits at the bottom.
*Contemplate the much reduced effort and the remnants burned onto saucepan number one. Put the new pot back on the stove and add the lamb stock. Stir thoroughly and swear an oath to keep a close eye on it.
*Set a pot of brown rice to boil and get to scrubbing the blackened food from the first saucepan. Imagine that the elbow grease is doing some good to your biceps. Jump as the water from the pot of rice boils over, turn the heat down and put a lid on it. Then give the lamb a stir and put a lid on that too for good measure.
*Hover around the stove, stirring the lamb a little too often to check the bottom of the pot and ensure it is not burning again. Set a timer for 5 minutes and drift back to the office to continue reading.
*Jump around three feet in the air when the cooking timer goes off. Reluctantly leave reading material and return to stove. Check the lamb. It’s fine. Repeat.
*After a few rounds, realise you’re not going to get your reading done this way and return to stove. Check the lamb again. Fork out a bit of meat and burn your tongue trying to check if it’s cooked. Not too bad – could be more tender, but it’s getting late and you’re now ready to eat. So long as it appears to be cooked, you’re willing to try it.
*Turn attention to the rice you have been ignoring while mithering over the curry. It’s overdone and somewhat watery, but cooked. Throw the rice into a sieve, dump into a bowl and spoon over the Dahi gosht. Add chopped mint, coriander and fresh ginger as a garnish if you’re feeling fancy.
*Call Dad and try to find out what might be missing as your version tastes different to the one back home. He says he doesn’t know, but you’re satisfied at least that it’s going to be two meals made from scratch.
*Allow the remaining dahi gosht to cool and decant into a container to put in the refrigerator. It will likely taste better the next day.
*While washing up, find the silver lining. You might have burned your dinner again, but you also learned how to rescue it without having to eat charcoal.