Fall has arrived! It seemed as though it may never make an appearance, but it was just being shy. At least that can be said for Southeast Wisconsin. Now, though, we are in the full swing of things. There are beautiful golds, blazing reds and some trees in the midst of transformation. Even as I sit down to write this, there is a young boy outside my window darting back and forth in the fallen leaves, toy plane in his hands, with all the enthusiasm of childhood. His eyes lit up with excitement as he flies the plane, performing sneak attacks as if he was the pilot of a fighter jet. It brings back memories of my sister and I, at his age, jumping into giant piles of leaves, that in one swift moment destroyed all of my father’s diligent yard work.
With the brisk air of fall, I know I am not the only one, warming meals start making their debut on my dinner table. Hearty meals that warm the soul.
It is one such meal that I will share with you below. I wanted to make a meat and potatoes dinner with a slight twist. Something that was a break away from the standard. I settled on lamb meatballs with mashed potatoes and corn with mustard seeds. It was a risk definitely worth taking. Satisfying and certainly filling. If you are planning to have dessert afterwards, make it light, such as fruit with whipped cream.
1 Pound Ground Lamb
1/4 Cup Shallots, minced
2 Medium Green Serrano Chiles, minced
1 Teaspoon Ginger, finely grated
3/4 Teaspoon Salt
2 Teaspoons Coriander Seeds
1 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds
3 Tablespoons Canola Oil
1/2 Teaspoon Mustard Seed
4 Shallots, halved and thinly sliced (about 1 1/4 cups)
5 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon Ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne
1/3 Cup Tomato Paste
14 Oz. Can Coconut Milk
1/2 Cup Water
2 Medium Green Serrano Chiles, cut lengthwise and seeded
1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt
2 Tablespoons Cilantro, minced
1 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
To make the meatballs: In a large bowl, place all of the meatball ingredients and mix using your hands. Don’t handle the mixture more than necessary, otherwise they will turn out tough. Form about 20 golf ball-sized meatballs. Set aside.
To make the curry: In a dry skillet, separately roast the coriander and cumin seeds until lightly browned and fragrant. Cool and grind them together – I have a dedicated coffee grinder that I use to grind my spices – you can pick one up from a Target or Walmart fairly inexpensively.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, add the mustard seeds, covering with a lid or splatter screen. When the seeds stop popping, which will be a matter of seconds so don’t walk away, add the shallots, garlic and ginger and stir constantly over medium heat, until the shallots turn golden brown. Add the coriander, cumin, cayenne and tomato paste. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the coconut milk, water, chiles and salt and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to a simmer and gently slip in the meatballs. Continue simmering until the meatballs are cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the cilantro and vinegar and shake the pan instead of stirring so you don’t break the meatballs. Simmer gently for an additional minute. Serve hot.
I served the meatballs with mashed potatoes and corn with mustard seeds.
Corn with Mustard Seeds
5 ears Fresh Corn or 4 Cups Frozen (thawed) Yellow Corn
3 Tablespoons Canola Oil
1/2 Teaspoon Mustard Seeds
1 or 2 Small Green Serrano Chiles, sliced thinly into rounds
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Turmeric
Salt, to taste
1 Tablespoon Cilantro, minced
Slice the corn off of the cob; you should have approximately 4 cups of corn.
Make the tadka*: Heat the oil in a medium skillet over high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, add the mustard seeds, covering the pan with a lid or splatter screen. After the seeds have stopped popping, add the chiles and stir until they are well toasted. Lower the heat to medium and add the turmeric, stir, and add the corn and salt to taste. Toss well, turn the heat to low, cover, and cook the corn until soft and tender, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the cilantro and serve warm or at room temperature.
*Tadka: the method of briefly roasting whole or ground spices in oil or ghee to release the essential oils and bring out their flavor. Used often in Indian cuisine.
Recipes by Ruta Kahate, 5 spices, 50 Dishes