Lcrty Ttiurvlay, March 18, lÂ» Fantastic food from India By CRAIG CL/UBOKNE and PffiHRE FRANEY New York Times Service NEW YORK - One of the, best Indian cooks in Manhattan is Ismail Merc h a n t , a 36-year-old, Bombay-born m o v i e producer whose credits include the critically acc l a i m e d f i l m "Shakespeare Wallah." In the kitchen, Ismail Merchant offers working proof that there arc scores of dishes from his homeland that are not in the least difficult to prepare. A complete Indian menu is presented here -- an easily made first course, shrimp with dill; an excel- l e n t , delectable, mullifla- vored pan roast of lamb as a main course; hot green beans with a langy and tantalizing sauce of mustard; dal, the traditional lentil dish, made special with lemon; and a seduc- t i v e milk, almond and s a f f r o n dessert, s h e e r (millO khorma (nuls and thingsl. 01 the d a l , I s m a i l states. "It is a rich man's- ponr m a n ' s d i s h , and every household has its own version. It is a must with any meal, and if you don't offer it, something is wrong." Dahi shrimp (shrimp v/ith dill} 2 pounds raw shrimp in shell 1 cup yogurt 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (or less, according to taste) 2 cloves finely chopped garlic 1 teaspoon caraway seeds '4 Icasixxm ground turmeric Salt % cup oil, preferably mustard oil % cup finely chopped fresh dill 1. Peel and dcvein the shrimp. Rinse well, drain, pat dry and set aside. 2. Combine the yogurt, c a y e n n e pepper, garlic, caraway seeds, turmeric and salt to taste. Add the shrimp and blend well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. 3. Heat the oil in a deep skillet or casserole and add the shrimp. Cook, stir- ring gently, and cover. Cook u n t i l the shrimp change color -- about 3 minutes, Sprinkle with dill and serve hot. The pan juices will,be quite liquid. Yield: 8 to 12 servings. Rhuna ghost (pan-roaslcd lamb) 1 four-and-one-quarter- pound lean, skinless, boneless leg of lamb (about 7 pounds before boning) 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger 3 hot green chiles, chopped with seeds 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic 1 Vt tablespoons chopped fresh coriander leaves (cilantro) Juice of one lemon (about 3 tablespoons) Salt to taste I teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 tablespoon cooking oil 1. Cut the lamb or have it cut into 1 -inch cubes. 2. Place the lamb in a bowl; add the remaining ingredients. Set aside until ready to cook, one hour or longer. 3. Preheat o'ven to 350 degrees. 1 Spoon the lamb into a shallow roasting pan. A r e c o m m e n d e d size is about 16 by 914 by Vk inches. Smooth the lamb over and place the pan in the oven, uncovered. Bake 1 h o u r and 15 minutes without stirring. The lamb should be quite tender; the pan juices will be quite liquid. Serve with rice. Yield: 12 servings. Green beans with mustard sauce 1 pounds green beans I tablespoon imported mustard, such as Dijon or Dusseldorf Salt and freshly ground pepper Juice of one lemon (about 3 tablespoons) Vj cup olive oil 1. Cut or snap off the ends of the beans, but leave the beans whole. Lei stand in cold water until ready to use. 2, Drain the beans and, preferably, sleain them in a vegetable steamer about f i v e minules. Or cook them briefly in a large quantity of boiling water about the same length of time. The important thing is not to overcook them, so they remain crisp tender. 3. As the. beans cook, spoon the mustard into a small bowl and add the salt, pepper and lemon juice. Stir to blend and whisk in the oil. Â·1. Drain the beans. Add the mustard sauce to them and toss to coat well. Serve piping hot in a hot serving dish. Yield: 12 servings. Limbo dal (Lemon lentils) \ l'/4 cups cooking oil ' 2 onions, halved and thinly sliced, about IK cups 4 two-inch pieces cinnamon stick . 2 pounds red lentils 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger root 5 cups chicken broth 5 cups water Salt 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper Juice of one lemon The squeezed, seeded shell of one lemon, including skin and pulp 14 cup chopped onion 1 clove garlic, finely minced 1 hot green chile chopped, with seeds 4 bay leaves Vt cup chopped fresh coriander leaves 1. Heat three-quarters cup of the oil in a large saucepan and add the sliced onions. Cook to wilt and add the cinnamon pieces and lentils. Add the ginger and cook, stirring often about 10 minules. Add the broth and water, salt to taste and cayenne pepper. Bring to (he boil and s i m m e r a b o u t 10 minutes, 2. Add the lemon juice and lemon shell and cook about 50 minutes longer, stirring oflcn. :). Heal the remaining half cup of oil and add the chopped o n i o n , garlic, chili and bay leaves. Cook, stirring, u n t i l o n i o n is browned. Add t h i s m i x - ture, including (he oil, to the lentils. Sprinkle with chopped coriander leaves and serve hoi. Yield: 12 or more servings. Sheer khorma (A milk and riut dessert) I 'A cups shelled pistachios Vi cup almonds, shelled but with the skin on % pound (2 ounces) Indian vermicelli 8 tablespoons butter ( cup) r, cups milk % cup heavy cream '/Â· teaspoon saffron 5 tablespoons sugar 1. Place the pistachios and almonds in a mixing bowl and add cold water to cover. Let stand overnight. Drain and rub off the skins. 2. Place the nuts in the container of a food-processor or electric blender. Do not blend to a puree. The texture should be coarse- fine. Set aside. 3. Break the vermicelli sticks in half. Heat the bulter in a large saucepan and add the vermicelli. Cook, stirring, until vermi- c e l l i is nicely browned without burning. Add (he milk and cream and bring to the boil. Add the pistachio mixture, saffron and sugar. Cook, s t i r r i n g Â· often, about 15 minutes. Yield: 12 or more servings. 8 ounces elbow macaroni 5 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons flour Vt teaspoon salt 1 Iraspnon Worcestershire sauce Vh cups milk 2 cups grated (tnertium- fine) sharp chetlilar cheese Â·Macaroni and cheese- 1 !4 cups soft bread crumbs Cook macaroni according to package directions. Make a white sauce using 2 tablespoons of (ho Imt- tcr, Ihe flour, salt, Worcestershire and milk; off heat, stir in cheese; mix with macaroni; lurn into a shallow 2-quart b a k i n g dish. Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons b u t t e r ; o f f h e a t s t i r in ( h e bread c r u m b s ; sprinkle o v e r tnacraoni Bake in n preheated 350- d e g r c e o v e n a b o u t 3C mimitos. If lopping is not as b r o w n as you like, place under the broiler, hut make sure the baking d i s h you are using is broiler-proof. M a k e s Â·! very large or 6 medium servings. dutcK bakery -^^ Tills week we make it p little easier. 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