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Brunch Easy Recipes Guest Posts Indian Curry Side Dishes Vegetarian

Baingan Bharta (Smoky Mashed Eggplant) – Guest Post for Rosa of Rosa’s Yummy Yums

Belated Diwali wishes to all my readers, I was not able to make anything for the blog this year, been lazy & got sweets from store 🙂 How are all my favorite people doing? Its been a while since you guys saw some action on Sinfully Spicy 😦 I apologize for vanishing away! Life is slightly busy & I need to concentrate on few things which cannot be postphoned any further. So, even though I m regularly cooking ,blogging dosent fit the schedule always …hope you all will understand…

I m guest blogging for Rosa of Rosa’s Yummy Yums today while she is on a little break.She is one of the most encouraging & kind blogger around, whom I have been lucky enough to be friends with. Depth of her writing, beauty of her lens & her enthusiasm has always been inspiring. If you havent checked out her blog,do drop by, I bet you will fall in love 🙂 It was a pleasant surprise when she wrote to me for a guest post. Thanks so much Rosa for inviting me to your blog.

I am sharing one of my favorite winter recipes with her wonderful readers today. Baingan Bharta or smoky & spicy mashed eggplant is one of my favorite ways to eat eggplant and the only way P eats it . Many of you would have already tasted baingan bharta in indian restaurants, now you can make it at home..How cool is that :)Check out my post on Rosa’s blog here. You can print the recipe here.

Just in case any of you is interested, have a look at a variation called hara baingan bharta which I shared long back here. Both the recipe are way different but if you are eggplant crazy like me, you have to try them all..

Ingredients: – (Serves 2-3)

▪                1 large eggplant (about 1lb)

▪                1 tsp oil (for rubbing on the eggplant)

▪                3 tbsp mustard/olive oil

▪                1 cup chopped red onions

▪                1″ fresh ginger shoot, chopped

▪                4 garlic cloves, chopped

▪                1-2 Thai green chilies, chopped (adjust to tolerance)

▪                1.25 cups chopped tomatoes

▪                1 tsp coriander seeds

▪                3-4 whole dry red chilies (adjust to tolerance)

▪                1/2 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder)

▪                1/2 tsp garam masala

▪                Salt to taste

▪                1 tsp mustard/olive oil (for drizzle on top, optional)

▪                Cilantro, green chilies chopped (for garnish)

Method: –

Wash the eggplant and dry the skin with a cloth. Rub1 tsp of oil all over. Use any one of the following methods to char the eggplant: –

1.              This is what I do: – Heat your stovetop on high. Char the whole eggplant, turning with the use of tongs to char on all sides, until the skin has blackened & the flesh is soft. This will take about 20-22 minutes. Keep a watch while you do this.

2.              Preheat a grill to medium heat; you can slit the eggplant into half, grill skin side up for 25-30 minutes. If you plan to use an oven, preheat broiler to 325F and roast the eggplant for about 15-20 minutes until skin is burnt & starts to peel off.

While the eggplant is roasting, pound the coriander seeds and dry red chilies using a mortar & pestle. Set aside.

Once the eggplant has charred, using tongs, transfer it to a plate and let cool down for about 15 minutes. Peel off the charred skin from the eggplant.You can remove seeds if you want. Using a fork, mash the flesh. Set aside.

Heat oil on high in a heavy bottomed pan. When the oil is almost smoky, reduce heat to medium & add the chopped onions. Sauté for about 6-7 minutes or till the onions are translucent but not browned. Next, add the chopped ginger, garlic, green chilies and sauté for 30 seconds or till you smell the aroma. Add the coriander & red chill mixture next and sauté for another 30 seconds. Next, add the chopped tomatoes, set the heat on high again and cook the tomatoes for 7-8 minutes until they soften (but do not mush) and you see oil separating on sides of the pan.

At this point, add the mashed eggplant and salt to taste. Combine everything together, set heat to low and let cook for 3-4 minutes. You will see that the color of the mash deepens & few oil bubbles on the surface as it cooks.

Remove from heat and while still hot, add the dry mango powder and garam masala. Mix well.

Garnish with loads of chopped cilantro, green chilies, drizzle with some raw mustard/olive oil and serve warm with naan/ chapati (flatbreads)

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Categories
How To Indian Curry Vegetarian

Masala – Everyday Indian Curry Paste

Indian restaurants in the western world have brought about a drastic conceptual change in the way people decipher Indian recipes – particularly the “curry”. Curry has transformed from being healthy & brothy to oily and thick. How many of you avoid restaurant food on those days when you desire light dinner and don’t want to ogle at the pool of oil, which will welcome you when you order curry? As much as Indian food opens your appetite and makes you want to eat more, I m sure most of you would be eating the non traditional version of curry at restaurants,feeling sluggish, thereby putting it off on certain days. I do not intend to dismiss restaurant curry as devilish but it’s a far cry from what home-style Indian version is. Even though I love thick, creamy restaurant curries with all my heart, I will certainly not categorize it as something I want to cook in my home daily or healthy. So for all of you who share curry love with me, I decided to post the basic Indian curry paste or masala in this post – the way we Indians make it in our homes – sans the calories & full of taste!

Onions Tomatoes & Garlic – The Veg Trio

Masala” is a very generic term used to describe any blend of spices in Indian cooking. Masala can be dry or wet, chunky or smooth, hot or mild, thick or brothy. In curry making it is a pasty, spice mixture, which forms the base. You add water or broth to the masala and make a ‘sauce’ or ‘curry’. Curry is not a dish by itself in India, it is a sauce. You prefix the name of meat or vegetable before “curry” to derive the name of the dish…chicken curry, potato curry, cauliflower etc.

Chili, Coriander & Turmeric Powder – The Spice Trio

Traditional home-style north Indian masala is not cream laden, not made with curry powder, does not have cashew or almond pastes & is not silky smooth in texture. It is chunky, healthy & light to eat. The way onions, peppers & celery start any stew or soup in the western cuisine, the Indian masala has equivalent trio of onions, tomatoes & garlic or OTG.The basic trio of spices being coriander, turmeric & red chili powder which lend it the distinct consistency, color & heat. The beautiful, deep orangish-red color is from the combination of red from chili & yellow from turmeric. This color depends on the quality of spices used and the slow cooking.In everyday cooking,Masala is not churned in food blenders or pureed through a sieve, it is cooked on low heat so that the onions & tomatoes soften but do not become mushy, and the natural sugars in them are caramelized. Garam Masala & Amchoor (dry mango powder) are added to masala to give it smoky and sour tastes respectively. Though rare,  but sometimes, addition of both these items depends on what is it that you are making curry with. As an example, I wont add both of these when making a fish curry, garam masala will overpower the mild taste of fish & citrus will be a better addition than amchoor. I hope you get an idea of what I m trying to say.

This masala has a lot of uses, you can whisk it in boiling water while making rice for an instant curried flavor, use it as spread on tortillas, buns or wraps, mix it with some mayo & make a curried dip, beat with yogurt, mix some veggies & make a side to the main meal. I even use it as a pasta sauce sometimes ..I m weird 🙂 Another way which I absolutely love this masala is on top of triangle paratha  – absolute bliss! Or maybe devise your own way of eating it & let me know.



Please note that this recipe does not substitute the whole spices in Indian cooking.This recipe is to be used as a base in curry making.

Ingredients: – [Makes about 1 cup, can be doubled]

  • 4 tbsp mustard/olive/canola oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
  • 3/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced (We like masala more garlicky than usual, adjust as per liking)
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 cup finely chopped tomatoes (slightly sour)
  • 4 tsp coriander powder
  • 4 tsp red chili powder/cayenne  (We like masala hot , adjust quantity to tolerance depending on mild or hot you want the sauce)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder, available in Indian stores)
  • 1tsp salt

Method: –

  • In a heavy bottomed pan, add the oil and heat on high up till you see ripples on the surface.If using mustard oil, you will need to heat it till its smoking to do away the raw smell.
  • Reduce heat to medium.Add the finely chopped onion and cook them till golden brown. About 6-8 minutes.
  • Next, add the cumin seeds, minced garlic & ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes till you start smelling the aroma.
  • Reduce the heat to low and add the tomatoes next along with chilli, coriander, and turmeric powder. Cook this masala on low heat till the oil starts separating from the mix along the sides of the pan. About 10-12 minutes. If you see masala sticking to the bottom of pan, add some water. Cook thoroughly to reduce water. This slow cooking is very important to develop flavors and color of the paste, please do not rush.Allow the masala to reduce till it acquires beautiful reddish to brown color.
  • Remove the pan from heat and mix in the salt, garam masala & amchoor.
  • Allow the masala to cool and transfer to jars for storing. The paste sits for up to 5 days refrigerated and 2 months in the freezer without losing flavor.
  • How to Use:– Whenever you want to use this masala for making curry, add the desired quantity of water to it,check the seasoning & bring to a boil. Next add the meats or vegetables, boiled beans, lentils and cook covered or in pressure cooker till tender.
Notes: –
  1. Although you can freeze this masala and save for later use, in Indian homes, it is prepared whenever needed. I recommend making a fresh batch everytime too.
  2. You can add anything and everything under the sun to the basic masala from coconut milk to cream to tamarind paste to yogurt to flavor it up depending on what you want to use it for.
Categories
Easy Recipes Indian Curry Side Dishes

Hara Baingan Bharta /Spicy Mashed Roasted Eggplant

This dish formed a quintessential part of the lunch served on Makar Sankrati [an Indian festival] in my grand mother’s house from as long as I can remember.The comfy platter with kaali urad dal khichdi [black lentils with rice],hara baingan ka bharta [roasted eggplant], dahi [yogurt], mooli [parsnips], homemade ghee [clarified butter] and achaar[pickle] are my best kept ways of remembering and celebrating Makar Sankranti till now.

As mentioned before in my previous post,my grandmother’s house has a big vegetable garden. Almost all the winter lunches were served there on a charpai [four legged cot]under the bright winter sun amid the home-grown decor of spinach, methi, cauliflower, garlic, onions,cabbage, radish, carrots etc. I have very fond memories of sitting on the charpai with lunch plate in my hand and picking up fresh leaves of garlic and onions and eating it with the meals. The taste of unwashed, organic stuff was unmatched under the warm rays of sun. I am a survivor of these homemade foods and authentic Indian dishes.A mention of winter lunches still takes me back to my granny’s vegetable garden and the food relished there during all my growing years.

In India,still the sil -batta [type of stone grinder] is used for grinding fresh spices for food, for making the chutneys and for other chores of the kitchens, I saw my mom using sil- batta to grind the herbs for making this dish.Those times were different with machines not being very popular and not widely used,hence the food preparations took more time and effort.You can see images of sil-batta here. Last week,her modern world grand-daughter prepared it in her American kitchen using a blender 🙂 Of course, its difficult to recreate that sil- batta texture even by using a 12 speed blender but I guess that’s what moving and adapting with times is all about!Afterall,its the era of fast and easy food 🙂

Okay coming back to the recipe,this hara baingan bharta was made only once a year on makar sankranti.If you ask me,I do not know why. Maybe because it paired the best with the meal served on that day or maybe its got something to do with nip in the air.Talking. of which , I can really relate to the fact that the best cilantro,mint and other herbs are available in India during winters and since this recipe requires these herbs,may be that’s the reason! I wanted to make this bharta for a long time but was waiting for the temperatures to fall down. As a kid eating these recipes ,I never thought that I would be recreating them some 2000 miles away from home, in a new country, with modern age equipments and serving them to someone who came into my life[aka my husband] much later than I learnt all these things.There are so many times I miss while making all this, the company, the family, the laughs, the warmth, the festivals, home but I guess life takes on its course,for good. I m doing what I am doing right now for some reason! Thts my karmaoh sorry I am deviating … so I should stop now.

Coming back to food,in hindi green color is hara ; eggplant is baingan and bharta is a word used for any sort of mash. So this is green colored mashed eggplant …how easy is that!!!Now you need a lot of fresh cilantro/coriander leaves for this dish.If you are not a cilantro person, use parsley but frankly I havent tried it so I can’t comment on how it will taste.Another shining and irreplaceable ingredient is raw mustard oil which gives the bharta a pungent taste.If you find the taste of raw mustard oil very strong , just cook it slightly beforehand but for the authentic flavor, I recommend raw mustard oil, that’s where the actual bharta taste lies! If you want to use olive oil or sesame oil , go ahead and use it and just don’t call it a bharta then…call it a dip or relish ! The whole point is using a slightly pungent and strong flavored oil.Please refrain from using canola or vegetable oil…it will not work in this recipe.Also, I like my bharta on the spicy side so you will have to cut down the green chillies from what I have mentioned in the recipes if you like less hot.The recipe is darn easy with minimal basic ingredients.

What I need :

  • 1 eggplant, big and fat
  • 1.5 cups of  fresh cilantro leaves [about 1 bunch][clean the leaves properly to remove all dirt and grit]
  • 3-5  green chillies [adjust to taste]
  • 1 ” shoot of fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp dry mango powder [anchoor] [can be subsituted with fresh lime juice]
  • 1/2 cup red onions , finely chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp raw mustard oil for drizzle
  • 1 tbsp mustard oil for tempering
  • Salt to taste

How I did it :

Roasting the Eggplant: Do any one of the following

  • In Microwave : Micro the eggplant in a microwave-safe dish for about 7-10 minutes till the eggplant is tender and spongy to touch.
  • In Oven : Preheat your oven at 400 F. Put the eggplant on a cookie sheet or any oven safe dish and bake for about 40-45 minutes.
  • In Broiler : Heat the broiler to 425 F and broil the eggplant till the skin is charred.You will need to rotate the eggplant in between for even cooking on all sides
  • On Stove Top [This is what I do]:Line the dripping pan of your burner with foil or the aluminium foil drip pans available in stores.Roast the eggplant on high flame on all sides till its soft and the skin is charred.

Making the Bharta :

  • Once cooked ,let the eggplant cool a bit. Once cool to handle, peel off  and discard the skin. Transfer the skinless eggplant to a bowl and using a fork or potato masher , just mash the eggplant thoroughly. [please do not use blender]. Set aside
  • In the blender add the cilantro leaves,green chillies, salt , dry mango powder and make a smooth paste with minimal amount of water [if needed].
  • Next, mix this cilantro paste with the mashed roasted eggplant, 2 tbsp of raw mustard oil  and set aside.
  • In a small pan , heat the 1 tbsp oil on high till it starts smoking slightly.
  • For tempering :Once hot enough, add the chopped garlic and ginger and saute for 1-2 minutes till they start browning. Next add the chopped onions and cook till the onions are dark brown in color but not burnt.
  • Just when you are ready to serve,to the mashed eggplant add the tempering and mix well.
  • Serve warm immediately with chapatis or parathas [flatbreads]

Notes:

  1. The taste and flavor of raw mustard oil is really strong, so adjust the amount of mustard oil as per your palate.
  2. To add more texture, you can add raw chopped onions, bell peppers, cucumbers etc to the mash and use it as a dip/relish.

Enjoy!
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