Last Fall, I joined IACP, the International Association of Culinary Professionals. This organization covers every food-related profession you can think of — from chefs and educators, to authors and small business owners, to, yes, food photographers and stylists. As you’d expect, there’s an associated Facebook group, and it was there that I first saw a message from Nandita Godbole asking if anyone would be interested in testing some recipes from her upcoming book, Not For You: Family Narratives of Denial & Comfort Foods. Naturally, I emailed her right away to volunteer my services, asking to test any gluten-free recipes she’d developed.
She sent me the two recipes that I photographed for this post: Sukka Mutton (Charcoal Grilled Lamb Kebabs) and Bajra Rotlo (Griddle-Baked Pearl Millet Bread). I’ve been trying to cut back on meat lately, so I asked Nandita if there was a meatless option I could prepare instead. She responded with two variations on the Sukka Mutton, saying she’d welcome the feedback from a test with either paneer or portobello mushrooms. I opted for the latter, since they’re such a satisfying meat substitute.
Rather than grill the mushrooms whole as she suggested, I spaced and cut them into large chunks before grilling them on skewers, exactly the way I would have prepared the mutton. Still great, but a few of the edge pieces were too delicate and fell off the skewers, so take her advice if you make this!
The marinade was simple, with yogurt, pepper, lemon and ginger forming the backbone of it. It seemed almost too simple and possibly one-note as I was reading it, but any doubts about its complexity vanished as I sampled the assembled marinade; by the time I was setting up for the photo, I was gobbling down those less-than-perfect chunks of mushroom. They had a very fresh taste with a little smokiness from the grill, and were altogether a great meat substitute, perfect for Meatless Monday!
The rotlo will be very familiar to those of you who have made your own corn tortillas at home. The process is much the same — stirring the flour into boiling water, kneading and rolling out the dough, cooking it in a cast iron pan while pressing down with a wadded-up paper towel. It puffs up just like tortillas do though the flavor is a bit lighter. I’m happy to have this variation to work with in the future.
If you’d like to check out Nandita’s book, it’s being sold on Amazon in both print and digital formats. The second volume will be out in the new year, and is available for pre-order here. Based on the two recipes I tested, I’ll certainly be checking it out.
Marinated and grilled kebabs with a balanced blend of spices.
- 2 lbs goat or lamb meat, boneless, skinless, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup boiler onions, skin on
- 8-10 metal or wood skewers
- 2 tablespoons ginger paste
- 1/2 cup unflavored 2% Greek yogurt, whisked
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper powder, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Oil the metal skewers prior to use. If using wooden/bamboo skewers, presoak for at least two hours to prevent them from burning.
Trim the top and bottom of the boiler onions, leave the skin on.
Combine the marinade ingredients in a large glass bowl. Trim and cut the meat into 2" pieces. Add the meat into the marinade, season with salt, coat evenly and chill for at least 20 minutes.
Arrange the marinated meat pieces on skewers. On a separate skewer, thread the onions though their centre. Cook the meat skewers on a charcoal grill (approx. 450°F, ten minutes until tender). Rotate the skewer regularly to prevent from burning. In the last 3-4 minutes cook the skewer of the onions on the charcoal grill as well, letting the onion skins burn away as they cook. Serve hot.
Recipe from Not For You: Family Narratives of Denial & Comfort Foods. Shared with permission of author, Nandita Godbole.
For a meatless version, substitute whole portobello mushrooms and grill for 5-8 minutes.