When I was in grad school, I lived in a large beautiful Victorian house in the Boston area with nine other graduate students. One of the other women was a nun from Pakistan named Josepha. She quickly saw how much I loved to cook (though my cooking then was nothing like it is now) and offered to teach me how to make Pakistani dishes. It was the first time I learned how to cook from sight and taste rather than from a recipe. She was also the first person to introduce me to the idea of seasonal cooking, though she didn’t call it that. Whatever was at the grocery store you used. Substitutions are part of the fun. So while the recipe below calls for beef, this could be made with chicken or pork though Josepha said they rarely ate chicken because it was so expensive. I have put carrots, squashes and eggplants in it before. Whatever is available, I throw it in with the basic ingredients.
This recipe probably isn’t incredibly authentic any more since I’ve changed it through the 18 years since I lived with Josepha. It’s still a comfort food to me, though, and it always makes me think of her.
Pakistani Inspired Curry
a few tablespoons of organic oil
1.5 pounds grass fed ground beef
1 large yellow or white organic onion, diced
2 cups organic sweet potato or yam, diced
2 cups organic white/red/yellow potato, diced
1 large organic green pepper, diced
1 organic jalapeño (with seeds if you like it spicy), minced
2-3 tablespoons organic garlic, minced
2-3 tablespoons organic ginger, minced
1.5 teaspoons organic turmeric powder
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons sea salt
½ teaspoon organic black pepper
2.5-3 cups water
1 cup packed organic cilantro leaves, chopped
2 cups organic frozen peas, set out to defrost while the rest of the dish cooks
In a 3 or 4 quart pot, brown the beef with oil and the onion over medium heat. When the beef is lightly browned, add in all of the remaining ingredients except the water, cilantro and peas. Stir to mix ingredients. Add enough water to cover the contents of the pot. Cover and continue cooking until the potatoes and sweet potatoes are soft (which takes about 30 minutes on my slow cooking electric stovetop). Add in the peas and cilantro, and cook for a few more minutes.
Serve with rice if desired.