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Delicious family style recipe for meat smothered in yogurt sauce, flavoured with garlic, cardamom and spices, and perfect middle eastern dish to enjoy cauliflower stew.
My children simply adore any dish that is done using cooked yogurt. I wanted to share with you this easy way to add variety to your daily dishes.

In middle eastern countries, Stews are basic fare for every day family cooking and are always served with vermicelli rice or plain rice. They are popular because they provide a wide range of nutrients from the meat, the vegetables and the rice. They also have the advantage of being economical as a relatively small amount of meat can go a long way into feeding a large family.

Yogurt is essential to middle eastern cooking. For eating and making Labne (the yogurt cheese) low-fat greek yogurt is just perfect for your health matters. For cooking it’s preferable to use the full-fat yogurt.Just make sure it has no gelatin in it, since it’s no need Goat yogurt is the most  kind  used for making the yogurt sauce in the middle east.

Actually, the Levant Cuisine depends on two ways to prepare and use of yogurt sauce; the cold yogurt sauce that is served over salads, or cold appetizers or as a dip to many mediterranean finger food. While the hot or the cooked yogurt sauce is the base for many recipes. That requires cooked yogurt can be used with vegetable stews. Usually many choices of vegetable will be perfect to company with the yogurt sauce. This sauce is good also over stuffed vegetables (what is known as Mahashi in the middle east). While many meat dishes directly depends on the yogurt sauce, where is the stuffed kibbeh balls or dumplings stew with yogurt sauce is one dish that resembles how delicious is the cooked sauce.

Middle eastern dishes often go by the same name as many arab dishes, but the preparation of them can be quite different, as similar dish can be prepared in different ways through out the middle east.
Some of the dishes that depend on the yogurt sauce is :The Jordanian Mansaf (it’s considered the national dish in Jordan), Laban Immo (the well-known dish in Lebanon), while the same dish called Shakrieh (the Syrian famous cooked yogurt and meat dish), in Palestine it’s named as Laban Tabeekh.

Making the cooked yogurt sauce is very easy and tricky at the same time. While you need to get the creamy texture and thickly yogurt sauce, it’s a very important step to stabilize the yogurt for cooking, you will need to add cornstarch and/or egg whites to the yogurt before cooking. continuous stirring of the sauce while it’s simmering is a very essential step too in making the sauce, this will end up in very successful, thick and creamy yogurt sauce.
The old traditional way to prepare the yogurt sauce is with the dried yogurt, either what is called Jameed (the dried yogurt balls) or the Keshek (the powdered dried yogurt), this was the old way to store the yogurt for a long time, and still used especially for the Jordanian Mansaf recipe. Since that will take a very long process in preparing the yogurt, dry it, then used it as base for the sauce. Nowadays, where the fresh yogurt is available all the time, cow’s yogurt is perfect to make the cooked yogurt sauce.
The lamb meat is usually the kind of meat that is popular in the middle east in almost all dishes recalling the use of red meat, and where the cooked yogurt famous with.  But you can use the beef or even the chicken. I used the beef chuck roast in making this dish.

The aromatic spices also play a very big rule in the middle eastern cuisine, the flavour of cardamom and gloves lend an exotic flair to this enticing beef and cauliflower stew. To add what is essential in cooking, the flavour of sauted garlic paste with coriander gives the best flavor we all adored.

Finally,  the yogurt sauce is considered one of many sauces that is stable mark for many of stew dishes in the middle east, other sauces used like the tomato sauce, and the tahini sauce, are very popular in many dishes too.

For me, the stewed cauliflower and beef with yogurt sauce is one of my favorite ways to enjoy cauliflower and the cooked yogurt, as well. Some people like the tahini sauce instead of the yogurt, especially for the cauliflower stew, but the yogurt sauce is also perfect.

Cauliflower and Beef stew with Yogurt Sauce

For the meat:  

2 teaspoon olive oil, divided
2 pound boneless beef chuck roast, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 cup chopped onion
1\2 teaspoon of each ground: cardamom, cumin, coriander, black pepper, all spices
3-4 bay leaves
1 stick cinnamon

whole cauliflower head, cut into large floret
vegetable oil for deep-frying the cauliflower

basic yogurt sauce:

1 container 32 oz (2 lb) yogurt, all fat, sour is the perfect.
1 tablespoon corn starch
1\2 teaspoon cardamom
2 tablespoon minced garlic
coriander leaves, minced or ground dried coriander seeds
salt and pepper

To prepare the meat:

Season the meat pieces with ground spices like:black pepper, cardamom, coriander, cumin, don’t add salt at this time, it will toughen the meat, the salt will be added after cooking the meat.
In a pressure cooker, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat, saute the beef pieces, this process is important; it’s not only give the meat extra flavor but also help trap all the juices inside the meat and this will end with very tender meat after cooking. Add the onion and saute for 2-3 min. Add cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and cover the meat entirely with water. Close pressure cooker cover securely.
Cook for 20-30 minutes at highest pressure at the beginning, then lower the heat to medium.
Strain meat broth and keep aside for future use (It is a good idea to use meat broth instead of water when cooking rice). Throw cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and reserve meat cubes.

For the cauliflower:
heat the oil in the deep fryer, wok, or large sauce pan, drop in the cauliflower floret, a few floret at a time and deep-fry to golden brown, turning the floret in the oil so they cook evenly, all will take 5 min. Remove with the skimmer or slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper towels. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and  cumin.

For the yogurt sauce:
In another cooking pot, add the yogurt, dissolve the corn starch with 1\4 cup cold water the add it with the yogurt in the pot. Whisk into a thin yogurt, beat until smooth, in most of the time I use the immersion blender, it makes the process more easier. Place pot on medium heat, stir continuously with big spoon in one direction, bring to boil (you will see the bubble on the top while string), lower the heat and continue stirring until the yogurt is thick and creamy. It is important to stir continuously for the yogurt not to stick to the pan, and to help thicken and prevent it from getting grainy taste.

To finish the recipe:
Fold in the meat pieces, the cauliflower and some of the meat juices or stock, one cup at a time, stir to  adjust the thickness of the yogurt, add some more once it need it.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil or ghee in a small skillet add the minced garlic and coriander, sauté for 1 min on low heat.
Stir the garlic coriander mixer into the simmering yogurt, adjust the taste add salt and some more cardamom if you like it. Allow to simmer for five minutes before removing from heat.
Serve hot with rice pilaf, of vermicelli rice.

Cardamom Flavoured White Rice

2 cups of long grain rice
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 1\2 cups cold water or the meat broth
1\4 teaspoon cardamom

Rinse with cold water until water is clear. Drain. heat the oil in 1 1\2 quart sauce pan, add the rice, saute for 2-3 min while stirring.  Add hot water or the broth. Bring to a boil. Lower heat until pan can be covered without boiling over. Simmer covered 15 to 20 minutes, until water is all absorbed. Fluff rice with fork. Cover and allow to stand in a warm spot until serving.