Lemony Ground Lamb w/Mint & Cilantro-India

While this may not come as a surprise to some (i.e. the culturally well-informed), to others it may seem unfathomable. But for those not in the cultural know, McDonalds in India do not serve hamburgers…by hamburgers I mean the traditional beef kind. Why you ask? Well, in the Hindu religion the cow (where all that beef comes from) is considered a holy animal that cannot be harmed and so people would never harm it let alone eat it. Lambs on the other hand are a different matter. 
But this post wasn’t meant to be about McDonalds in India although in case anyone was wondering items on the menu include some familiar ones to the American stomach (the McChicken) along with some unique selections (McSpicy Paneer-paneer of course being a type of cheese in India although in the McDonalds medium, it’s fried). Last week I returned to a cuisine I hadn’t cooked anything from in a while-Indian.  I was looking for an incredibly simple recipe and the Lemony Ground Lamb with Mint and Cilantro fit the bill. I love lamb although I must admit I had never eaten ground lamb before (I don’t think I would ever “dig in” with ground beef). However, the aromatic smells of the lamb cooking along with the spices wafting through the air were sublime. 
I served the ground lamb along with store bought naan and an eggplant dish that I started to follow the recipe for but eventually deviated from.

Lemony Ground Lamb with Mint and Cilantro

recipe courtesy of At Home with Madhur Jaffrey by Madhur Jaffrey

2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
Two 2-inch cinnamon sticks
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 pound ground lamb (not too fatty)
2 teaspoons very finely grated peeled fresh ginger
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint (just the leaves)
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro (use the tops)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon garam masala

Pour the oil into a large frying pan and set over medium high heat. When hot, put in the cinnamon sticks. Let them sizzle for a few seconds. Add the onions. Stir and fry until the onion pieces turn brown at the edges. Now add the lamb and ginger. Stir and fry for about five minutes, breaking up the chunks of meat as you do so. Add one cup water, the salt, and cayenne. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cover, turn heat to low, and simmer gently for 30-40 minutes or until the meat is tender. 

Add the mint, cilantro, lemon juice, and garam masala. Stir and cook uncovered on low heat for another five minutes, stirring now and then. Spoon out extra fat before serving. 

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