Passover is the holiday I plan for all year long, partially because I hate it so much. I loathe giving up my beloved bread and pastry for an entire week, though usually my thighs thank me for the brief respite. Nevertheless I seek inspiration everywhere: in cookbooks, online and out and about when I am eating.
This recipe was inspired by a dish my husband and I ate in Los Angeles back in December at a downtown restaurant called The Industriel. I have never been much of a quinoa fan, but when I tasted their braised lamb served with rich walnut-quinoa porridge cooked in milk, I knew I had to try and make a version for myself. Cooking the quinoa in coconut milk adds a richness and heartiness to the quinoa that I really enjoyed, and it was almost like I was eating rice or pasta with my stew. Almost.
If you aren’t a fan of Indian spices, you could also try a more Middle Eastern flare my replacing the masala with Ras-el-hanout or harissa, which would also pair nicely with the creamy coconut quinoa. And despite my kvetching over the lack of carbs, this dish is absolutely delish, Passover or not.
For the stew:
- 2 ½ lbs lamb stew meat
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- 1 large onion
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 small jalapeno
- 2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
- 1 Tbsp garam masala spice mix*
- 1 ½ quarts chicken, beef or vegetable stock
- 1 ½ cups orange or pineapple juice
- Fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)
For the coconut quinoa:
- 1 ½ cups quinoa
- 1 ½ 13.5 oz cans light coconut milk plus extra
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
*To make your own garam masala spice mix:
- A 1-inch piece cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 cup cumin seeds
- 1/3 cup coriander seeds
- 1 Tbsp green cardamom pods
- 1 Tbsp whole black peppercorns
- 2 tsps whole cloves
- 1 dried red chile
- 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
To make the stew:
- Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat.
- Sprinkle lamb liberally with salt and pepper. Sear lamb in batches on each side until golden brown. Set aside. Reduce heat to medium.
- Sauté onions in remaining lamb fat, scraping brown bits from the bottom. Cook until translucent, 5-6 minutes. Add jalapeno and ginger and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and garam masala. Cook until fragrant.
- Add stock and bring to a boil. Scrape any additional bits from the bottom of the pan while coming to a boil.
- Add lamb and reduce heat to medium-low heat (simmer). Cook for 1 ½-2 hours, stirring occasionally. If liquid has reduced too much, add more stock or water.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
To make the coconut quinoa:
- Heat olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Toast the quinoa until lightly browned, around 5 minutes.
- Add the 1 ½ cans of coconut milk plus water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover pot. Cook 20-25 minutes. Allow to sit 10 minutes and fluff with a fork. Add an extra 2 Tbsp coconut milk plus salt and pepper to taste and mix.
- Heat all spices except nutmeg in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the cumin becomes brown, 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder or coffee mill, add the nutmeg and grind until it’s a fine powder. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 months.