Peter was coming home for spring break, so I decided to try and make him something. I initially wanted a crock pot recipe, but wasn't coming up with anything that appealed to me, so I settled on a shish kabob. I selected lamb since we don't have it often, and built the rest of the dishes around that.
I diced the lamb and then marinaded it for 24 hours in yogurt, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, cilantro, minced garlic, curry powder, and ground black pepper. But before the meat was even ready for grilling, disaster loomed. Peter's ride to South Carolina got complicated, and he decided not to come home. Like any good chef, I improvised. I invited the Speckled Bird over instead and the dinner proceeded.
The next evening the rest of the meal went together fairly easily. I started with the cucumber salad, since I had to leach much of the liquid out by salting the pieces and weighting them down in a colander for three hours. The bismati rice pilaf called for cardamom pods, which I didn't have, so I substituted powder, the only real variation I had to make. The cloves and cinnamon stick that I cooked in gave the rice an unusual flavor. While the pilaf cooked, I finished up the salad with a yogurt dressing, adding oil, mint, cumin, and garlic. Antonia cut up some fresh vegetables I had purchased. I rubbed oil on them and added some mint, then grilled them in a basket next to the lamb. I had some mini whole wheat pita pockets that I wrapped in foil and warmed up in the barbecue to complete the meal.
After dinner, the band broke the silence of the lamb and practiced in the front room. I think this was my best meal yet, both for the food and the company. Next time, Peter, you better come home when you say you will. I only have a few of these up my sleeve.