The photographer for my blog is generally about as easygoing as a teen can be. I pay her by giving her room and board, special treats and occasionally buying her some outfit that I don’t quite get but makes her really happy—like a romper.
But there’s one thing she can be demanding about and that is her need to eat Indian food. There have been times when she has come home from school and smelled the aroma of something cooking on the stove and been furious because she had decided while in school that we would be going to our neighborhood vegetarian Indian restaurant, Woodlands, where they start heating up the mutter paneer and frying the paratha as soon as she crosses the threshold.
Of course, I don’t always acquiesce to her demands to go to Woodlands because I run a tight ship and try not to go there more than once a week. I am able to hold fast and not buy ready-made Indian food every night because I have learned how to make some pretty good substitutes at home. One cookbook that has helped me throw together an Indian meal is Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick and Easy Indian Cooking which I received as a gift from a former colleague. Jaffrey explains in this book that preparing Indian food doesn’t necessarily take a lot of time as long as you have a lot of ingredients to provide the necessary depth of flavor. This translates into having a well stocked spice cabinet. Given my love of (1) exploring the shelves at local ethnic food markets (2) cardamom and (3) my photographer, this ground turkey and peas dish is a week night staple at our house.
Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick Weeknight Ground Turkey and Peas
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
one 4- inch stick cinnamon
4 cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
1 small onion roughly chopped (around 4 oz)
3 cloves minced garlic
2 teaspoons peeled,finely grated fresh ginger
1 pound ground turkey
6 oz fresh or frozen peas — lightly cooked (they will cook with the turkey so you don’t even really have to cook them)
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Put the oil in a wide pan (like a chef’s pan) and set over medium-high heat.
When the oil is hot, put in the cinnamon, cardamom, and bay leaves. Stir for a few seconds.
Add the onion. Stir and fry until the onion pieces turn brown at the edges. Add garlic and stir for a few seconds and then add the ginger and stir for another few seconds.
Then add the ground turkey and stir and cook until all the lumps are broken up and the meat browns.
Then add all the remaining ingredients. Stir to mix and cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally as you do so.
Remove the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, and cardamom pods and serve.