With over 400 blue-ribbon recipes, you are sure to find the flavors of farm country that you love in The Best of The Farmer’s Wife Cookbook (Voyageur Press, 2010). Editors Melinda Keefe and Kari Cornell have kept the recipes just as they were first printed in the early 1900s. You will find time-tested recipes for everything from cakes and cookies to hearty meals like chicken pot pie. In this excerpt, make this Lamb Curry Recipe for a twist on a traditional Indian dish.
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The Farmer’s Wife made curry with a very small amount of the mixed spice, boosting its sauce with a generous dollop of milk. It is not a combination we think much of these days, but for a time it was a very popular Americanization of Indian so-called curries of vegetables or meat cooked with a variety of spices and, often, yogurt. (If you’ve ever seen the 1940s film Adam’s Rib, starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, you’ve witnessed the two main characters in their kitchen whipping up a lamb curry from a leftover roast, some curry powder, and milk on the maid’s night off.) The recipe below attempts to concede to both old and new. It calls for prepackaged, nondescript curry powder instead of a more traditionally Indian breakdown of specific spices, but it is also enhanced by tomatoes (for some much needed acidity), raisins (a little sweet to balance the acid), and cilantro, which no respectable Indian kitchen would ever do without. Serve over basmati rice for an even more authentic Indian dish.
Lamb Curry Recipe
2-1/2 lbs. lamb for stew, cut in 1-inch pieces
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 to 3 tsp. curry powder (depending on the heat of the spice and your own preference)
8 green cardamom pods
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 c. chicken broth or water
1 c. crushed tomatoes
1/2 c. shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 c. raisins
chopped fresh cilantro, to garnish
yogurt to serve
cooked basmati rice to serve
Trim the lamb of fat, then brown in a large skillet in the oil over a high flame and sprinkle with a little salt. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and place in the slow cooker. Drain the skillet of fat, then add onions, garlic, and a little more olive oil, if necessary. Cook until onions are soft and slightly brown. Add curry powder, cardamom, and cumin and stir for several seconds to mix. Add to slow cooker. Deglaze skillet with chicken broth or water, add tomatoes, and stir briefly. Add to slow cooker. Set the slow cooker on low and cook for 4 to 5 hours until very tender. Add the coconut and raisins after 3 hours to preserve their flavor. Serve over rice with a dollop of yogurt and cilantro to garnish.
You may substitute beef or chicken for lamb. Omit the crushed tomatoes for a simpler flavor.
In December 1914, The Farmer’s Wife also recommended Rabbit Curry. “Europeans frequently substitute rabbit curry or rabbit pie for the Christmas fowl,” she instructed. “Clean (and skin) a young rabbit. Cut into pieces as for frying. Fry in bacon fat until a light brown. Fry 3 sour apples and 2 onions, finely chopped. Add 1 tsp. curry powder and soup stock, salt, and pepper to taste.” Add all to the slow cooker and follow the instructions above for Lamb Curry. Serve hot over rice or boiled, buttered noodles.
Reprinted with permission from The Best of The Farmer’s Wife Cookbook edited by Melinda Keefe and Kari Cornell and published by Voyageur Press, 2010. Buy this book from our store: The Best of The Farmer’s Wife Cookbook.