Wednesday 18 March 2020

I just realised that after almost twelve years, this blog took a mighty long break for a while. It has been the best of years, and the worst of years, but we have survived them, reasonably healthy, reasonably happy, and reasonably whole. I've been busy, raising a really active and full on three year old, and an absolutely wonderful tween. In the middle of these years, I've been rediscovering the joy of cooking again, cooking for my family, my friends, teaching people the intricacies of Indian and Thai cuisine, and reading and cooking from my massive cookbook collection. I've been baking, volunteering, cheering for my soccer team and trying this thing called living offline. This doesn't mean I've been completely abandoning my online life, as I have been an activist on Twitter, an artist on Instagram, a friend on Facebook, and a worker bee on LinkedIn.

I played soccer with the metal band Iron Maiden, and turned forty. I went to Montreal on a whim to watch my all time favourite band Dream Theater. I watched Slayer and Disturbed wedging myself into the front row at a metal concert. I don't do these things, normally, but I lived.

For a while, I was sure that in the melee, my blog was finally retired. Oh, I'd never take it down, but I honestly thought my creative drive had disappeared. But as I found out, it only takes the right challenge, and before you know it, all those creative ideas come pouring back, and it was time for me to get back into the kitchen and my food diary. That challenge here came via Think Beef, and their newest campaign. It's funny how you have an idea for a dish, and then suddenly inspiration strikes and said dish ends up being a very different one. This is what happened to me when Think Beef asked me to come up with an original recipe for ground beef for their brand new campaign, The One and Only Beef.

Beef has always been part of my life, in the culinary sense, even though I grew up in India. With my Indian Catholic, Goan and Mangalorean heritage, beef has been a staple meat, growing up. So many of our family favourites involve beef, and my mom, who worked in Kerala, always had an amazing Keralite beef recipe on hand. My dad's signature dish was his 'beef roast' -  a delicious dish with spiced and braised beef.

So, for this recipe, I started, as I always do, with my penchant for spice. Naturally, I reached for my East Indian heritage, and for one of those dishes that seem to be popular in most Indian Catholic households. In their own strange naming way, this dish is called beef cutlets, but encased in a crispy, spicy mashed potato. But as I was laboriously testing out this dish, I had a bag of red lentils on my counter, and I kept looking at them, wondering if I could make an even quicker dish, and this Moroccan Spiced Ground Beef and Lentil Stew came to life. That said, the cutlets were not abandoned, and I made two recipes, instead of the requested one. The cutlet recipe is coming soon.

Moroccan cuisine is one of my fail safes for dinner parties. Everyone loves a tangy  tagine, or a beef and dried fruit stew, or a herby couscous. But since I was working with ground beef, I figured that lentils would work well for a stew that comes together so quickly for an easy meal. While I have always associated stews with winter, I think this one, with its bright, fresh, herby, spicy-sweet flavour is a perfect late winter/ early spring dish.The apricots can be substituted for plump raisins. It is kid friendly, with its subtle spicing, and adult friendly with its complex flavours. Keeping it real, it is a win-win for everybody in the family.

There are also some pretty amazing other recipes that my fellow food writers and recipe developers have come up with, for this campaign. Check them all out, including my recipes, at the Think Beef page here.

Get the Moroccan-Style Spiced Ground Beef and Lentil Stew Here.



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