Chickpea Crusted Eggplant hearts on a Platter


Do you believe in the logic behind ”What’s in the name?” I absolutely do.

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In my defense of POV, I’d say nothing is in the name, the soul lies in the identity of the object (living or not. BTW, food is a living creation for me J)

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On that note of having people confused, let me further say that the recipe I am presenting today is my personal version of its traditional and famous counterparts made with passion, love as well as finesse across India. And needless to say that such a commonly made delicacy has no universal name or taste, but a common emotion! Oh yes, food has emotions and human mind associates food with memories.

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I would stay over at my grandmother’s house every Friday since every Saturday was early morning school day unlike the other days when school started at 10 am. My Aji (my mother’s mother up and bouncing at 89) would make Vangyache Kaap” very often during my sleepovers at their place. The prime reason being I simply adored them! My granny called it the “Brahmin’s fish” (Brahmins, do not eat non-vegetarian traditionally,I m an exception :P)!

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Sounds extremely odd to most mothers, isn’t it? I had surrendered to my mother’s strict discipline about eating all vegetables early on and eventually learnt to like them. So, I fell for eggplant/brinjal too!

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However I renamed my version of the traditional Marathi Vangyache kaap” as “Chickpea Crusted Eggplant Hearts on a Platter”. Sliced eggplant dipped in chickpea flour and minimal spices, elegantly cooked on a flat pan! Isn’t that such a hearty sight? Hence the name! Don’t mind the re-naming please!

And now without any more of blabber or Bakar (local word used for chatter in Bombay) I detail the ingredients and method for this delicacy!

Ingredients: (approx. 10 slices-3 persons)

  • 1 medium sized eggplant/brinjal (sliced about 10mm thick, washed and soaked in water)
  • 4 tbsps. Chickpea flour/besan.
  • 2-3 tsps. Ajwain/Carom seeds.
  • Salt to taste.
  • 2 tsps. Asafoetida.
  • 2 tsps. Turmeric powder.
  • 2 tsps. Garam masala /all spices powder.
  • 1-2 tsps. Red chili powder.
  • Olive oil Spray.

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Note: The carom seeds, asafetida and turmeric help balance the heaviness of eggplant. The eggplant is heavy on tummy or gives gases but its very subjective. To make it lighter on tummy and ease out any trouble later, the addition of these three ingredients plays a vital role.

 Method:

  • Mix all the dry ingredients and set aside.
  • Lightly dap the moisture from the sliced eggplant with a tissue.
  • Coat the eggplant slices with the dry mixture.
  • Heat the flat pan on a medium flame. Spray the olive oil spray on it evenly. Use a brush if required to coat the pan.
  • Lay the slices on the pan.
  • Spray the topside with oil and turn.
  • Allow it to cook for up to 1.5 minutes on each side and spray while flipping to the side not facing the pan.
  • The eggplant would change colour to a beautiful golden from the white and the sides would turn darker.
  • Push a knife or edge of the spatula to check if the eggplant has cooked well.If the fork moves in easily, its done!

 It could be an appetizer or a sidekick with rice or bread! But,frankly it could be whatever you want it to be 🙂

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Good food needs no words, it’s a language by itself. So, relax and relish. Enjoying food and creating aromatic memories is more important. Have it with wine or Sol-kadhi (Maharashtrian Mangosteen Soup) as long as it delights you, nothing else matters!

What say? J

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Kesariya Pistewali Sevaiiya (Sweet Vermicelli Pudding lightly infused with Saffron & Pistachios)


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I love recipes that are easy to cook and don’t require lot of preparation. With a work-in progress home renovation and an almost 4 year-old boy I cannot ask for more, can-I?

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My boy has his “ Craving for the day” a la carte that changes every day depending on his mood. The one in all things is his love of and for sweets! He just digs the dessert course better than the others.He does enjoy his daily dose (or should I say overdose) of “Poli-Bhaji” (Roti and Vegetables) but sweets are his soft point. His spouse (whoever and wherever she is, you are going to handle this crazy foodie, my respects!) is going to have a cakewalk into his heart if she manages to discover that detail about him!

Anyway, he loves this simple and totally delicious milk based, loaded with nuts and saffron, fused with cardamom and ready in minutes sweet that he longs to eat with Roti (mostly) or Puri (rarely).

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I like the minimal usage of ingredients to the fullest! Hence I let them shine on their own, without overcrowding them. Unlike the traditional version of Sevaii Kheer where a variety of nuts are used in the whole form, I used a powdered mixture of pistachios, saffron and cardamom. The Pistachios elevate the colour and flavours of this dish.

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I like to address it as “Kesariya-Pistewali Sevaiiya” (Sweet Vermicelli Pudding lightly infused with Saffron & Pistachios) for obvious reasons!

 Ingredients: (4-6 medium sized bowls of pudding)

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  • 1/2 cup. vermicelli noodles. (These are sold separately and are thinner as well as finer sold in rectangular boxes or coiled to form U in plastic bags in most Indian stores. The ones for Upma are little thicker than these and have more starch in them)-crushed with hands.
  • 2 tsps. clarified butter or ghee.
  • 8 strands of saffron.
  • 2-3 pods of green cardamom.
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg powder (optional).
  • 1/4th De-shelled and unsalted pistachios.
  • 2 cups 1% organic milk.
  • Honey as per taste or 6 tbsps of sugar.(as per taste)
  • 2 cups of water.
  • Good coffee grinder or any other grinder of your choice.

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Method:

  • In a deep pan heat (on a low flame) the clarified butter and roast the vermicelli noodles on it.
  • The aroma of the roasted vermicelli would soon fill the whole house. Add the milk and boil it. The milk and vermicelli cook together quickly. The mixture starts to thicken. Keep stirring.
  • Add half the water into the thickened milk.
  • Fine grind the pistachios, cardamom and saffron. Add the powder in the milk and bring to a boil.
  • Gradually add the sugar or honey as desired, stirring often to avoid burning.
  • As the mixture boils, the kheer turns thicker and thicker-almost on the verge of forming a thick soft cake. Add the remaining water. Bring to a boil and switch the flame off.
  • The kheer is ready

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I remember as a child my Aai (mother) used to make it at least once a week. We probably could not afford making it, as I think about it now. But she still made it so that her daughter gets the sweetness of life that she could not relish much.

In retrospect, all I remember is she wore the same pair of surgical footwear for years to make that kheer so enriching for her only child. Our generation did not have the pleasure of luxurious gifts for birthdays they say, I’d say we had better than that!

My Baba (father) would work 8-8 for the love of working. The numbers never mattered to him on his balance sheet. He believed that fame and money would follow if his efforts were honest. He worked for the love of working. And to see the man I loved more than myself for all my life and will do so for the rest, I feel our generation has had the privilege of witnessing the best luxuries of life that our children would never see.

2 years ago when he passed away, he was still the man who was world famous for his innovative engineering concepts and ground-saving solutions but wore simple footwear that costs nothing more than 500 inr. But I would say, our generation was luckier to witness the creased sole of the cheap footwear that walked such a remarkable journey of life.

The ideologies of need and want were different then or have we surrendered to the luxurious life way too much to be able to enjoy simplicity of life??

If cometh a day that I shall be able to treasure preciousness of life, I’d save my father’s creased and worn out footwear sole, his glasses and a copy of Bhagwat Geeta he read everyday. They will remind me that the richess I inherited have the sweat and blood of my Baba!Featured image

This kheer is a toast to the struggles that my parents went through to raise me and make me the person that I m. I hope that our generation could pass some sense of responsibility to our kids that they inherit naturally but have lost to the so-called ideas of privacy!

Butterless Spaghetti Makhanwala with Shammi Kabab Meatballs


I love the concept of classic New York style Spaghetti with Meatballs. But it’s rare to find meatballs in Chicken or fish, isn’t it? Here’s how I began to believe otherwise J.

One of my son’s classmates Zo often got Spaghetti with Meatballs in her lunch box. And my son would find ways to convince me to make it. I thought and searched but could not think about a decent scramble for a chicken oriented meatball recipe. We don’t eat red meat so I don’t cook it either. I don’t have an issue if my son decided to eat red meat when he grows up but at the present if he ate and asked me to recreate a dish it would be very difficult. So, it’s more of convenience to opt for Chicken J.

I obviously did not wish to make Spaghetti and use frozen meatballs. It had to be custom made.Featured image

Through a food group I was introduced to a very talented culinary mind Ritu Shrivastava who shared her recipe for Shammi Kabab once. And my adventurous mind began to fuse an East meets the West recipe! Ritu, thanks for that recipe, it was very generous of you to share your delicious recipe and help me structure the fancies of my boy J. This is to you!

Here is a totally Indian take on the classic. Mine is called Butterless Spaghetti Makhanwala (low calorie tomato based sauce used for Indian delicacies like Butter Chicken etc) with Shammi Kabab meatballs (Indian Chicken mini patties infused with herbs).

Sharing this recipe for my boy of origin who loved it!

Spaghetti Makhanwala (Butterless Spaghetti in Tomato based Sauce)

Makhanwala (literally means loaded with butter and cream) gravy is rich, creamy and extremely flavorful. However, I wanted to make a lighter version of the parent sauce. Here is my version.

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Btw, I always make non-meat stuff first to avoid any cross contamination of uncooked meat and other ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium sized tomatoes.
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic.
  • 3 tsps. Cardamom powder.
  • 1 tsp. Garam masala (all spices powder).
  • Salt to taste.
  • 1 tsp. kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves to be added as garnish).
  • 2 tbsps. Yoghurt.
  • 3-4 black peppercorns.
  • 5 tbsps. Cashew powdered. (I did not use these. But they would add to the richness of the sauce).
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds.

Method:

  • Blend all the ingredients using very little or no water at all into a smooth sauce.
  • Cook the sauce and bring it to a boil. To enhance richness of taste reduce it to a thick sauce.
  • Set aside.

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For Spaghetti:

  • Drop the Spaghetti into boiling water and follow the instructions on the carton for cooking through. Drain the water, dust salt and drizzle some olive oil.
  • Mix the spaghetti with sauce just before you have to serve. The starch in the pasta thickens up the sauce too soon. So, ideally drop the pasta into the water (simultaneously) when your Shammi kababs are been shallow fried.

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Ritu’s Shammi Kabab (Ground chicken meatballs)

  • 8-10 Organic chicken tenders (skinless).
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic.
  • 1 cup of Cilantro.
  • ¼ cup of Mint leaves.
  • 2 tbsps. Ginger paste.
  • Green chilis (optional)- I added Tandoori Masala and Garam Masala (all spices powder).
  • Salt to taste.
  • Italian Bread Crumbs (my addition).
  • 2-3 tbsps. Italian Basil leaves (optional, my addition)
  • A good grinder.
  • Oil for shallow frying (about 4 tbsp.).

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Method:

  • Ground all the ingredients except oil and crumbs in a grinder. (Ritu had marinated the ground chicken with ginger and garlic paste along with onions. But, I skipped the marinating part and addition of onions. Also I did not add any oil in the ground chicken mixture as she suggested.)
  • Make small patties and roll them into bread crumbs. (Now you can make balls and choose to deep fry them but I am on a healthy diet plus a busy mom, so not going to commit the sin :P).

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  • Heat the oil on a flat pan and shallow fry the patties until crisp (about 7 minutes on each side). But, you can still cut it and find out if they are cooked through or not. I always follow the actual test than follow my gut here. No chances with raw meat!

Serve together!

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This is a healthier and extremely delicious Indian version of the American Classic! This is going in my special heirloom recipe book to be passed on to the next generation!

Besanwali Bhindi ( Stuffed Okra with Chickpea flour)


And then there was a ladyfinger. (Stir fry and Ladyfingers, thinking right?)

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Yes, the Indian Ladyfinger is America’s very own Okra! A beautiful green colored long vegetable just like a lady’s fingers.

However, after migrating to the US (post marriage) I was amused to learn that ladyfingers are a kind of biscuit (low density, egg based and sweet sponge like) used as a dessert ingredient and not a vegetable. Ironical isn’t it? :P!

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Besanwali Bhindi (Bharwa Bhindi/Bharleli Bhendi/ Stuffed Okra with Chickpea flour) is one of my favourite stir-fries! Getting fresh bhindi here is a rarity. At least I have not come across a single store that carries a nice sharp stock of it with it’s tails intact (those of you who have shared same pains of selecting amongst broken tailed okras,my heartfelt empathies!)

In childhood, my Aai (my mother) used to be so upset when I used to gobble down all the okra even before the lunchtime. Loved munching on these.

They obviously taste great when the oil dollop is bigger (or so I thought!)

Believe me there are so many people like me who believed that fat, bacon and ice-cream are mandatory sins of the culinary world! The humungous addition of these ingredients alone would make a dish taste out of the world! But, this version of “besanwali bhindi” will change it for all thinkers.

It’s light, time effective and delicious! What more other than a detailed recipe would one ask for?

Voilà!

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Ingredients: (for 2 persons)

  • 20 okras/ladyfingers washed, towel dried and slit lengthwise.(select smaller ones, they are perfectly tender.)
  • 3-4 tbsps. Besan or Chickpea flour.
  • 1 tsp. red chili powder.
  • Salt to taste.
  • 1 tbsp. jaggery or palm sugar.
  • 2 tsps. cilantro powder.
  • 2 tsps. cumin powder.
  • 1 tsp. roasted dried garlic powder.
  • 1 tsp. carom seeds.
  • Oil spray.
  • Oil for tempering.
  • 1 tsp. asafetida.
  • 1 tsp. turmeric.
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds.
  • 2 tbsps. Garam masala (all spices powder).

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  • Mix the besan, chili powder, cilantro powder, garam masala, cumin powder, salt, jiggery, garlic powder, carom seeds and turmeric along with little salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  • Hold the slit okra is a hand and stuff the besan mixture in it. Gently coat the okra into the bowl of mixture after that. This seals the okra and the stuffing well and does not allow the filling to come out while cooking. (Even if it comes out, it still tastes great J). Repeat the same for all the ladyfingers.
  • Heat 2-3 tsps. Olive oil (or any of your choice) in a pan and make the tempering. Add the cumin seeds and asafetida in hot oil and allow it to crackle.
  • Add the stuffed okra in the pan.
  • Oil spray the okra and sauté.
  • The colour of okra changes to a brighter green, that’s when it is cooked well.
  • But, we need the okra to be crisp and crunchy so allow it to crisp on a medium-slow flame. If you fear the okra to burn in the deep pan, add a flat pan (tawa) beneath it until it crisps.
  • And it’s ready!

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I understand that it takes a while stuffing each okra and then crisping it up, but the results are worth the trouble! I have seen a couple of my friends broil it in the oven to crisp it up, you can try doing that and share how! One word of advice though, while cooking okra do not cover the pan with a lid, the gel like saps within comes off and is sticky. It’s not very appetizing to the eyes L.

Serve besanwali bhindi with your choice of bread or eat it JLT! I have had this as an appetizer for many gatherings and it’s a crowd pleaser!!

 

Indian Masala Omelette


Most simple recipes are the most difficult ones to execute. My family loves eggs. Egg recipes appear simple but not every one can cook eggs to perfection. The gourmet breakfast places are busy for a reason,don’t you think? (btw,totally in need to nominations for a great breakfast place where they serve good stuff-so suggestions welcome:)!

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Rohan, my husband likes it boiled or when it’s made into a thin crêpe like with hint of green chilis and onions.  Those thin crepes are tough to execute and my husband does a great job with that. Son likes fancy stuff with cheese, peppers and dill! Don’t even think of asking him why?! He is a big fan of Chopped and Cutthroat kitchen!

I prefer a thick Indian Masala Omelette that my Aai makes. It’s simple and totally inspired by the Iranian Omelette served in Iranian Cafés along with exotic Tea in Bombay or Pune in India. My father hailed from Pune and hence my mother was introduced to that style of thick omelettes.

It’s breakfast for most of us but to me it’s BLD J. Keeping it short with yapping and sharing the version His Highness Udeet (my son :P) and I both approved. Obviously, it’s far from my mother’s though Udeet enjoyed it!

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Ingredients: (for 1 and half people :P)

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 red onion finely chopped.
  • 1/8th cup chopped green capsicum.
  • 1/8th cup bell peppers (red and yellow).
  • 1 stalk of green onion finely chopped.
  • Salt to taste.
  • Olive oil-about 2 tbsps.
  • ½ cup cilantro finely chopped.
  • 1 tsp. ginger finely chopped.
  • 1/4th cup milk.
  • 2 tsps.cheese- my son wanted it because he wanted to make the recipe.could not say no to those tender little hands wanting to cook!
  • 1 tsp black pepper or ½ jalapeno finely chopped.
  • 2 tsps. turmeric powder. (Remember 100 foot journey: the movie?here’s the video).

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Method:

  • Beat the eggs with a whisk. Add milk and whish again.(Milk makes the crepes lighter and tasty-Aai’s tip J)
  • Add all the veggies in it along with cilantro, salt and turmeric.
  • Mix gently with the whisk-almost like folding it.

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  • Heat a pan, add oil and pour the batter over the pan.
  • Allow it to cook for 2-3 minutes until the edges start to leave the pan.
  • Slowly flip it with a spatula and pray it does not break. (Mine did not break this time while flipping. It broke when I was setting it on the plate :P. But, I don’t’ care for the shape J-Do ya?)
  • Cook it for 1-2 minutes and its done. The colour of the crust would be brown-golden. It’s the heavenly crust with very little oil or butter and loaded with veggies.

I have used eggs with the yolk but you can make the same without the yolk as well.I don’t favour total elimination of egg yolks. But,its a personal choice.

Eat, sleep and rejoice! Eh Bien,Bon appétite!

Soniyacha Sanjã ( Golden Savory/Spicy Semolina Pudding)


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My Aai (mom) did not quite follow the norms of traditional Maharashtrian cooking. Hers is more rebellious style of cooking, I’d say. She always made the most unusual delicacies people skipped from regular fair. If most homes were used to eating Pohe or Upeeth (Savory semolina pudding, also called Upma in southern India), we ate Sanjã !

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Sanjã is really a traditional Maharashtrian version of the popular Upma. The basic ingredients like semolina, curry leaves, udad daal etc are the same. What’s different then? Ahh, this one is yellow-so it has turmeric in it! And that makes it golden :).

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And the addition of turmeric changes the whole world! It gives an earthy taste almost pilaf like, a beautiful colour and an enchanting aroma. I can vouch for this recipe that wasn’t my favourites in childhood (because of my love for pohe-flat beaten rice savory breakfast flakes). But, as I grew up (and noticed that world has varied flavours and ingredients apart from monochromatic), my love for Sanjã grew deeper and deeper :P.

 I rather type now instead of the hype J

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup fine semolina/sooji/rava.
  • 3-4 Curry leaves.
  • 2 tsps. turmeric.
  • 1 tsp. Asafoetida.
  • 2 tsps. Mustard seeds.
  • Salt to taste.
  • 2-3 cups warm water.
  • 1 green chili finely chopped (optional).
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro.
  • 3 tbsps. Lemon juice.
  • ½ green capsicum, finely chopped.
  • 1 medium sized white onion-sliced thinly.
  • 2 tbsps. Olive oil (you can make it in clarified butter/ghee, it tastes better always J).
  • 2 tsps. urad dal soaked in water for a minute.

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You can add any veggies of your choice, but it’s close to weekend and my fresh groceries are diminishing so made use of the ones handy L.

Method:

  • Heat oil in a deep pan and add mustard seeds, urad dal, asafetida, curry leaves, green chili and turmeric in it. Allow the mustard to crackle. (On a white cooking station and the tempering splashes yellow trickles on it while crackling. To avoid this, cover the pan with a lid. After the splitter, uncover and use).
  • Sauté onions and capsicum over the tempering. The onions would turn soft and change colour to golden. Set this aside separately.
  • In the same pan add the semolina. Roast until aromatic. The use of same pan allows the turmeric flavor to be infused into the semolina well while it roasts.
  • Add water gradually and stir the roasted semolina continuously while doing so.
  • Add the sautéed onions and capsicum in it.
  • Mix well.
  • Mix salt in the lemon juice and add it in the semolina mixture.
  • Add more water if needed.
  • Mix and add cilantro.

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Serve alongside Yoghurt and pickle of your choice.

This Sanjã is an on-the go recipe. Made in barely 15-20 minutes,it could be served as any meal BLD! Relish on the true taste of turmeric! The ingredient shines through!!