Eggplant season is here and I am all over it. Biting into that sweet flesh dotted with soft seeds, I always admire how this delicious vegetable absorbs any kind of goodness thrown to it in good measure.Be it the flavored oils or the profusely strong-tasting spices,squirts of citrus or a mellow yogurt dressing, it takes all. Robust yet so simple and earthly to relish, I have been regularly making eggplant pakorasand bharta, roasting it, open fire grilling it and what not.
I totally disliked it as a kid and the same was true for most members of our family. Except for pakoras, I rarely touched it. In the real way, I embraced it as an edible item during those couple of years when I turned a pure vegetarian.
I always like September for the overlap it brings – the summer bounty is still in the markets but the autumn produce can be spotted on the stands. I am still getting to slice fresh strawberries for my daughter’s breakfast and at the same time I hand over crunchy apples to her as a snack. It is so fascinating how seasons change and that change is first thing evident in the farmer’s markets. I went for grocery shopping the labor day weekend and was surprised how pears and apples have popped overnight on the stands.Can you believe I spotted a few pumpkins and parsnips already! Gosh, where did summer go.
For us, especially on the days when like to keep it meat free, a simple meal comprises of lentils, a dry vegetable curry and rice. We sit down to eat together, mostly eat with our fingers, squeezing out that juicy flesh off the peel, smashing the potatoes and mixing it in with ghee smothered dal-rice. Yum! If not with rice, you could roll this up inside whole wheat flatbreads if you like. Go make some before the season goes away.
Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
4 tbsp mustard oil (or olive/canola oil)
1/2 tsp fenugreek seed
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida powder)
2 medium potatoes, peeled & cut (I use yellow potatoes)
1 tbsp water
1/2 tsp turmeric powder, divided
1 medium globe eggplant or 4-5 japanese eggplants
1/2 cup finely chopped tomatoes (I use fresh roma)
1/2 tsp red chili powder (or to taste)
1/4 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder, skip or use fresh lime juice to taste)
scant pinch of garam masala (optional but lends a nice smoky hint)
1 tsp kasurimethi (dry fenugreek leaves)
Salt to taste
Chopped Cilantro to garnish
In a kadhai/wok, heat up the oil. If you are using mustard oil you will need to heat it up for up to 1-2 minutes to do away the raw smell. Just take care that is not smoking. Once the oil is hot, reduce the heat to low and add the fenugreek and cumin seeds.Let crackle. Immediately add the garlic and hing. Let cook for 5-7seconds taking care they do not burn. Â (You do not want the garlic to turn bitter as it changes the taste of the recipe, take the kadhai off the heat if you feel that its too hot)
Add the potatoes next and let their outer surface crisp up for 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle a little salt and 1/4 tsp turmeric powder as they brown. Next, add 1 tbsp water, cover and let cook on medium low heat till the potatoes are 50% tender.
Meanwhile, wash the eggplant and cut it up roughly the same size as the potatoes.
Add the eggplant along with tomatoes, rest of the turmeric, red chili and dry mango powder. Also add the salt. Mix well so that everything is covered in spices. Cover and let cook till both eggplant and potatoes are tender. On medium low heat this should take 7-10 minutes.(This time will depend on the variety and size of the vegetables)
Take off the lid and sprinkle the garam masala and kasuri methi. On high heat, gently toss everything for another 1-2 minutes.
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?Â 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 ofÂ Rosa’s Yummy YumsÂ 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.Â 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)
â–ªÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1 large eggplant (about 1lb)
â–ªÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1 tsp oil (for rubbing on the eggplant)
â–ªÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 3 tbsp mustard/olive oil
â–ªÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1 cup chopped red onions
â–ªÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1″ fresh ginger shoot, chopped
â–ªÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 4 garlic cloves, chopped
â–ªÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1-2 Thai green chilies, chopped (adjust to tolerance)
â–ªÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1.25 cups chopped tomatoes
â–ªÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1 tsp coriander seeds
â–ªÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 3-4 whole dry red chilies (adjust to tolerance)
â–ªÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1/2 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder)
â–ªÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1/2 tsp garam masala
â–ªÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Salt to taste
â–ªÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1 tsp mustard/olive oil (for drizzle on top, optional)
â–ªÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Cilantro, green chilies chopped (for garnish)
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.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 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.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 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.
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)
Thousands of miles away, when you cook food which you ate back home – on family picnics, long drives, with friends, at birthdays parties & weddings, there is a certain sense of overwhelm which grasps me.Does it happens to you too? – tastes which remind you of good times spent.One such memory is eating at dhabas in and around Delhi.DhabaÂ is indian equivalent of a diner, very popular amongst drivers and long distance travellers for quick & inexpensive food.If you ask me the best places to eat in Delhi, I will recommend most of theÂ dhabas on the outskirts of the city and some in Old & central areas.
The typical setting of a dhaba is not fancy,very basic, you might or might not get cutlery or tissue paper, but you are sure to find food made with love and bursting with authentic flavors.Mostly you would be eating on reusable stainless steel plates, you may get mineral water,there might be mosquitos during summers and monsoons [grin],AC is out of question,if it’s a popular place – you ll get chairs else enjoy seating on a cot & don’t shy away from humming old hindi film songs playing on the radio…the food is glorious,the atmosphere – intoxicating!Â When my dad used to work outside Delhi, most of our summer vacations were spent on road trips. I remember that we used to plan our visits such that we can have dinner at our favoriteÂ dhabas which dotted the interconnectingÂ highways.As I write this, my mouth is already watering at the thought of food served -Â dal makhani [ lentils],Â palak paneer [ spinach & cheese curry], Â kadhaiÂ chicken served along with hot& fluffy butter dunkedÂ tandoori rotis [flatbreads] straight out the the clay oven, jeera [cumin] rice & a BIG glass of lassi or chaas [ salty buttermilk] during summers or masala chai during winters.Here you don’t kill yourself over worrying about calories or hygiene, its the zesty experience which matters!! The recipe in this post is one which you will find at almost every dhaba in north india – trust me the very mention still stirs the emotions of best family times 🙂
“Kadhai” is an indian wok.It is one of the most indispensable utensil in an Indian kitchen..be it for making quick stir fry, curries, shallow or deep-frying or simmering stews.Its shallow & less heavy as compared to dutch ovens and something I just can’t imagine my without.A dish which is made start to finish in a “kadhai” gets its name from there & is Indian answer to a stir fry. However, you do not compulsorily need a kadhai to make this recipe 🙂 The point to keep in mind is that since it’s a quick cooking method, you can make a kadhai with almost anything under the sun.The recipe is very simple, you can prepare & store the kadhai sauce in advance & add whatever you wish to it- from chicken to cauliflower to fish to vegetable medley .Today I chose paneer [Indian Cottage Cheese] which is the most popular of all kadhai preparations in northen India. A typical addition to any kadhai is lots of bell peppers – of all colors, choose any you like.The dish is bursting with indian flavors, mostly made semi dry, is really one of the most colorful curries around & is really simple to whip up.
Although kadhai tastes awesome with naan bread, tandoori roti or even rice, in my home we are used to eating it with tawaÂ parathas or skillet cooked flatbreads.Since childhood , I have known parathas in this triangle shape right from dinner plate to lunch box.Infact my granny was very particular about how neat a triangle you are able to roll out.I hope my pictures of the steps will help you in that regard 🙂 This triangle paratha has layers , is soft & flaky coz its brushed with oil/ghee inside – I can have few of these straight from the skillet on its own- Love the aroma of steam which escapes when you bite the layers. You can add chopped chillies, herbs, spices etc to make your own variations.
Ingredients:- [Serves 2-3]
Â [ You can replace theÂ paneerÂ with any boneless meat or vegetable of choice]
1 lb / 1.5 kgÂ Paneer, cubed or cut in strips Â [ Indian Cottage Cheese available in all indian stores, recommended brand “Nanak”]
1 tbsp canola/corn/vegetable oil
1 medium-sized each of red & green bell peppers, seeded, cut in strips or diced
1/2 cup onions, thick sliced [ optional]
Salt to taste [ if required]
Fresh chopped Cilantro for garnish
Fresh lime juice
BasicÂ KadhaiÂ Sauce IngredientsÂ [ Can be made fresh or well in advance.For storing, put in dry-air tight containers & freeze.Thaw 1-2 hours before you need]
1/3 cup mustard/canola/corn//vegetable olive oil
3/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, grated
2 tbsp fresh grated ginger
3-4 fresh tomatoes [ any variety which is slightly sour, chopped fine to yield 1 cup]
1.5 tbsp coriander seeds, coarsely ground with mortar pestle or in coffee grinder
7 dry red chillies,Â coarsely ground with mortar pestle or in coffee grinder [ adjust to taste]
3 green chillies, finely chopped
3/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tspÂ garam masala
1/4 – 1/2 tsp brown sugar [ adjust to taste,do not skip]
2 tspÂ kasuri methi,crushed with hand [ dried fenugreek leaves,do not skip, makes all the difference in the taste, available in all indian stores under ” Peacock” brand]
2 tsp salt
Make the Kadhai Sauce:- [ Makes about 2.5- 3 cups]Â
In a kadhai or any heavy bottomed cooking pot, heat the oil on high heat.Once the oil is smoking, reduce the heat to medium.If using mustard oil, it is important to cook it to smoky point at the start of cooking to do away with the raw smell.
Add the chopped onions and cook on medium heat till golden brown in color.
Next,add the gratedÂ garlic & ginger and saute for about 2 minutes till you smell the aroma.Next add the chopped tomatoes,coarsely ground coriander & red chillies,green chillies, turmeric and cook on medium heat till you see oil separating at the sides of the pot.About 5-8 minutes.
At this point add theÂ kasuri methi,Â garamÂ masala, salt & brown sugar,stir well cook for 5 minutes more on medium heat.
Above is the basicÂ kadhaiÂ sauce, if you want to store it for later use, let it come to room temperature and refrigerate for using within 3-4 days or freeze up to a month.
MakingÂ KadhaiÂ PaneerÂ :- For the stir fry, on high heat 1 tbsp oil in a kadhaiÂ or a cooking pot.Add the diced bell peppers & onion slices [ if using] to the oil and saute for 3-4 minutes.This saute time depends on how tender you like the veggies.Next, add theÂ paneerÂ and saute for another 1 minute tillÂ paneerÂ sarts to become light brown.Be careful while stirring after you have addedÂ paneerÂ because it softens quickly & crumbles easily in heat. Add the sauce and mix well.Check the seasoning and let simmer for 2-3 minutes till everything is heated well.
Remove from heat,squirt some fresh lime juice & sprinkle chopped cilantro.Serve warm withÂ flatbreadsÂ & a salad.