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Monday, March 12, 2012

Today's Special

When Karen and I lived back in Laramie, for several years we belonged to a university-based foreign foods group. About a dozen couples belonged, and every month we'd gather at a member's home to eat and drink way too much. Someone would decide which ethnic cuisine we'd try the next month, and every couple would make a dish or three for everyone to share. I remember Spanish, Greek, Scandinavian (worst choice, ever), Italian and Indian. I'm sure there were more, but they probably weren't as memorable.

We'd become great fans of Indian food, making the 90-minute drive to Fort Collins, Colo., every so often for a buffet lunch at the late, lamented, Star of India, or to the Indian restaurant in Loveland. Eventually, we found some Indian ingredients and sauces at a natural foods store in Laramie, and then an Internet Web site for Tasty Bite foods. Karen even bought a kit of Indian spices and made her own blends while I was off at work.

There are several Indian restaurants in the Spokane area, but the best of the bunch is downtown, about 30 minutes away. I've done some Indian cooking, but not much. I did tonight, though, but with more inspiration than effort. Yesterday evening, we downloaded a Netflix movie called "Today's Special," starring Assif Mandvi of "The Daily Show." I'd never heard of it before Karen found it, but it was really good. The story involves sou chef of Muslim Indian descent, who aspires to be chef of a top French restaurant - spurning the family's Indian restaurant in Manhattan. When his father suffers a heart attack, he reluctantly takes over the family restaurant and, with the help of a cab driver/former chef, makes the restaurant a top draw for New York foodies.

While trolling the aisles of the Post Falls, Idaho, Wal-Mart today, I discovered they now carried whole wheat (a sop to my diabetes) naan, the delicious Indian flat bread. Back in the car, Karen asked, "Are you going to make Indian food because of the movie we saw last night?" You bet, but I didn't have a lot of time to work at it. On the way home we stopped at The Trading Company grocery store so Karen could mail some packages at their contract postal office, and I found packages of Tasty Bite Kashmir spinach. I bought two. Then, off to Albertsons to pick up our meds and buy some lamb. By the time we got home, it was 3:30.

I sliced up some onions and sauteed them with a little butter and olive oil in a cast iron skillet; chopped up some plum tomatoes and threw them into the pan; cubed the lamb and added it to the onions and tomatoes. After the meat was done and tender, I added the two packets of Kashmir spinach (saag and cubes of paneer cheese), covered and let simmer for about a half hour. When nearly done, I oiled the naan and sauteed it in a separate frying pan. A Red Hook IPA (India Pale Ale), and it's dinner. Not as fancy as the food cooked up in "Today's Special," but pretty good chow.

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