Sunday, February 21, 2016

Kheema Aloo for #FoodNFlix


Food‘nFlix
I am hosting this month's Food'N'Flix and I picked The Lunchbox*. You can read my invitation: hereUnlike most of the films I've selected for the group, I had never actually watched this movie. But I read about it; and the premise seemed interesting.

On the Screen...

Every day in Mumbai, dabba wallahs pick-up (from home kitchens) and hand deliver (mainly to offices) a quarter of a million hot meals all across the city. It's an intricate network that requires Swiss precision timing and numerous handoffs from dabba wallah to dabba wallah.

As the title suggests, the movie revolves around a lunchbox, specifically a glitch in the lunchbox system. Despite what the dabba wallah insists when Ila confronts him with the error; he insists that they never make mistakes, citing that even Harvard studied their system.

Regardless there has been an error and the lunches that Ila, a neglected housewife, is making and packing for her husband are being mistakenly delivered to Saajan Fernandes, a curmudgeonly widower on the verge of retiring. 

And so it begins. Ila and Saajan embark on an epistolary friendship, exchanging notes through the lunchbox by tucking handwritten letters between paratha

This has been billed as a romantic comedy though, to me, it's much more than that. And I’ll leave you to discover what happens to Ila, Sanjeen, and the people in their lives on your own. If you haven't seen it, you should watch The Lunchbox. It's a tale told with respect, restraint, and intelligence.


In the Lunchbox...
First, a funny note about these stainless steel tiffin boxes. I lean towards 'tree-hugging hippie.' I can't help it; I went to Berkeley! So, when the boys were in 2nd grade and kindergarten, I decided that I wanted to get them tiffin boxes as their lunchboxes. It seemed like a great idea - no plastic, no waste. However, I also had a third box for Jake. The first problem: the lids were not interchangeable. Well, you could switch them, but then you encountered issues with them being too tight or too loose. That led to the second problem: when I accidentally mismatched the bodies and lids - on the side of too tight - the boys couldn't open the boxes on their own. And with three grades in the lunchroom at the same time, they couldn't always flag down adult assistance to open their tiffins.

So, our tiffins went the way of the dodo, at least for lunches. Good intentions...but totally not practical. So, now our tiffins store beads and other knick knacks. I did find one shoved to the back of a cabinet in my kitchen!

Now, here's how I landed on this dish. Ila and Saajan have never met in person. She suggests that they meet for lunch at a restaurant that serves her favorite, Kheema Pao. At least that's what I scribbled down while watching the movie. But I couldn't find a recipe with that name. I found Kheema Pav which is Kheema (lamb curry) on Pav (a yeasty roll). Given that Jake is currently gluten-free, I kept researching and decided to make Kheema Aloo, lamb curry with potatoes. And I added green beans because that was one of the dishes in Saajan's first tiffin from Ila.


Kheema Aloo

Ingredients

  • 1 lb organic ground lamb
  • 2 T oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1/2 orange bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 2 t grated ginger
  • 1 t ground turmeric
  • ½ t red cayenne powder
  • 1 T ground coriander
  • 2 t ground cumin
  • 2 T garam masala (here's our blend)
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 C tomato sauce
  • 1 to 1-1/2 C water
  • 6 potatoes (I used baby Dutch yellow potatoes), cubed
  • 1 C green bean, trimmed to 1" pieces
  • juice from 1 organic lemon
  • fresh cilantro to garnish

Procedure
In a large, flat-bottom pan, heat the oil and add the chopped onions, garlic, and orange bell peppers. Cook until the onions are beginning to caramelize. Stir in the ginger, cayenne, coriander, cumin, and garam masala.  Add in the lamb and cook till completely browned.

Pour in the tomato sauce and water. Bring to a boil. Stir in cubed potatoes, cover, turn the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are softened, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the green beans, cover, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. You can cook them longer, if you wish, but we like our vegetables al dente. Check the consistency of the curry, if you prefer a more saucy curry then don't dry out all the water. If you like a more dry curry, cook for a little bit longer. Just before serving, stir in the lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

I served this with tri-color quinoa, a spicy mango salad, and garlic naan.


I'll be sharing a round-up of all the recipes from the Food'N'Flixers at the end of the month. I can't wait to see what they cook up based on The Lunchbox.

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.

8 comments:

  1. YUM....I'm going to make this for dinner one night and Frank will just have to "tolerate" it LOL

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  2. Sounds like a great movie! I had to chuckle when I read about your experience with the lunch boxes. I have a three-tiered brass one that I brought home from India.... Many moons ago.... It is a bit stiff!! Your Kheema Aloo sounds delightful!

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  3. Camilla, I can't thank you enough for picking this film. Loved it. I also wonder about the romantic comedy tag. You are so right about the restrained story telling here. Great dish!

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  4. I love this idea. And I now I want to find one of those tiffin boxes too.

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  5. Great movie choice and loving your aloo dish. So funny you have actual tiffin box experience.

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  6. Oh, potatoes and lamb and green beans in a curry sound like the perfect bit of comfort food!

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  7. I have always coveted a tiffin but your story makes me wonder if I really want one. OK, maybe just for cool photos--not for everyday lunches! ;-) Your curry looks amazing, as does the whole meal. Excellent movie choice this month--thanks for hosting.

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  8. Looks delicious, Camilla! I've never cooked with lamb, but I sure want to now!

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