Hands up who learned a new word this week? Ooh, ooh, me, me, pick me. Chaud-froid. Actually, I guess technically it’s a phrase, since it’s two words. And, even more technically, I didn’t really learn it this week, since I knew what both chaud (French for hot) and froid (French for cold) meant before. But this week I learnt that you can put the two together and suddenly it becomes an elegant, foreign food term. Thank you Masterchef.
Although having decided to – this before going any further I discover that a chaud-froid is specifically a cooked game dish, served cold with a sauce or jelly. Well, that certainly wasn’t what the French dude on Masterchef made, with his hot salmon with salmon tartare. Whatever, he said it confidently, and with a twinkle in his eye so I may as well go a step further in mangling the meaning of this phrase in today’s post. What the heck. This is my chaud-froid.
So the recipe today is a lamb jalfrezi. It comes from an Indian cookbook which was recommended to me in India. I wanted an “authentic” book that local Indians use for cooking (I mean, when they’re not making recipes which have been handed down from mother to daughter for generations) and apparently the author, one Sanjeev Kapoor, is a very popular chef in Delhi. Good enough for me. The recipes I’ve made from here so far have been really good, so full of flavour and actually surprisingly easy and this was no exception. It was originally a recipe for paneer jalfrezi. Paneer is an Indian cheese like ricotta. In fact it’s made in exactly the same way as ricotta, but has a lot more moisture squeezed out of it. As a result it comes in blocks, almost like tofu, and can be cut and fried. Since I couldn’t source any, and since my last ricotta-making experiment ended up looking pretty soggy I thought I’d better not chance it and chose to do something meaty instead. It worked really well; without trying the original recipe I can’t say for sure but I think this amount of spice might just be a bit, well, weird with cheese. The meat helps carry the flavours and brings together the whole dish rather nicely.
So much for the chaud. The froid came about since I served this with a cucumber=mint lassi on the side, which was lovely and refreshing. I admit that lassis don’t taste quite the same when it isn’t 45 degrees outside and you’re not struggling through an insane city of 16 million people in 90% humidity, feeling decidedly overwhelmed at the noise and colour of India, and abundance of lentils at every meal. That said this is a great addition to the jalfrezi. And as well as balancing the heat of the curry with a nice, cool, yoghurty drink, the mint and cucumber also provide a different sort of cool to the chilli and ginger spice. A proper play on words, a real chaud-froid, à mon avis.
Adapted from Khazana of Indian Recipes
The recipe below should produce a medium-hot curry. It wasn’t as hot as I was expecting, but with all the varieties of chilli in there I didn’t want to overdo it. It’s also pretty heavy on the onion, so you could even use a small one I think and get away with it.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon crushed, dried red chillies
1 jalapeno chilli, chopped
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and julienned
1 medium onion, sliced (I used a large one and there was a lot of onion)
1 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
300g lamb, sliced into thin strips
1 green bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
Handful coriander leaves, chopped, for garnish
1. Heat the oil in a large wok until it shimmers. Add the cumin seeds, crushed chillies, jalapeno and peeled, julienned ginger. Fry for a minute or so, until fragrant.
2. Add the sliced onion and fry for another couple of minutes. Add the cayenne and turmeric powder and stir well.
3. Add the lamb and brown for a few minutes, until brown all over, but still pink inside. Add the sliced green pepper and tomato, pour in the vinegar and season with salt. Stir in garam masala and saute for a final two minutes.
4. Serve over rice and sprinkle chopped coriander on top as garnish
250ml Greek yoghurt
Half cucumber, sliced and chopped
1 drop peppermint essence
Handful mint leaves
1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend for 30 seconds or until smooth. Add more milk for a thinner lassi.
2. Serve cold.