June 19, 2011
In some alternate world in my mind, I am going to be making these meat-filled pies for my dad. He’ll sneak into the kitchen after his afternoon nap, grabbing a pie before he’s really supposed to, consuming it while it is still impossibly hot, and grin in that way I hope I will never, ever forget.
This week, I was given the opportunity to write a Father’s Day post for Desi Living, a Houston-based blog dedicated to exploring the Indian-American experience. It was, as it always is, powerfully difficult but tremendously rewarding to write about my dad. Between that piece and the first longer essay published here on the blog, it’s been quite a week for sharing writing; it feels so good, in no small part thanks to enthusiastic responses from so many of you.
And while I wish so badly that I could celebrate with my own father today, I have to say there is no shortage of incredible men in my life: some who have eagerly and chivalrously served as my surrogate fathers, many whom I admire tremendously for being thoughtful and dedicated in their parenting, a handful who are about to become dads for the first time!, and a group that we are counting on to serve as father figures for the child we hope to bring into our life soon.
I know not everyone has a rosy relationship with their own dad, but I hope that everyone can think of at least one man they know who is a father or father-figure worthy of acknowledgment. Call him up, and tell him so. Happy Father’s Day out there!
THE FOOD OF MY PEOPLE: KEEMA
If you, like me, are always looking for something new to do with ground beef—voila. The flavors in keema are fantastic and addictive; if you like, you can add some frozen peas at the end of the cooking process for a traditional take.
What to do with your keema once you’ve made it? Well, you can fold it into scrambled eggs, serve it with naan or rice, spoon it on top of baked potatoes, combine it with wanton wrappers and fry some samosas, or make meat pies like I did.
I used this Rose Levy Beranbaum recipe for pie crust, subbing in half whole wheat flour for added heft. I rolled the dough out ¼” thick, cut it into rectangles, filling one with keema, then topping it with a corresponding dough piece. A crimp along the edge with a fork, a brush with egg wash, and a decorative studding with sunflower seeds, then 15-20 minutes in a 400 degree oven.
Admittedly, Beranbaum’s recipe is pretty fussy, but if it does yield fantastically flaky pastry. If you’re not up for the trouble, you might try this empanada dough or (shh, I won’t tell!) use pre-made pie or pizza dough.
Last but not least, if you’d like some chutneys to go with your meat pies, I’ve got a couple of recipes for you (one for cilantro chutney, the other for tamarind) over here.
1 lb. ground beef or lamb
1 medium onion (red or yellow), diced
2 T ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup tomato sauce
1 ½ tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. whole cumin
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. cayenne, if you want some heat
Heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pan. Once the oil is shimmery, add the cumin seeds and listen for the hiss that means they’re cracking. Toss in the pinch of turmeric, then the onion, ginger, & garlic. Turn the heat down a bit to medium-low and sauté until translucent.
Add the ground beef and break up large clumps with the back of a big spoon or spatula. Up the heat to medium-high and cook until the meat browns, no traces of pink remaining, stirring occasionally. Stir in the ground spices and turn the heat down to low. Add the tomato sauce and stir, cooking until the sauce is completely incorporated into the meat mixture and looks “dry.”
Remove from heat and garnish with chopped cilantro.