Monday, November 26, 2007

Chapati (Indian layered flat bread)

A staple on Indian dinner tables that goes with pretty much every curry or simply spiced yogurt!

Ingredients needed:
  • Atta (available in Indian grocery stores, can be substituted with whole-wheat powder) 
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for shallow frying

Begin with mixing Atta with salt in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add water. Mix well by adding more water or flour to get a consistency that is not to tough or too sticky. Cover and keep aside for about 30 minutes. Knead the dough with clean hands for 4 - 5 minutes.

Make medium-large lemon sized balls, flatten them round (you can flatten the balls on a surface dusted with flour or basted with oil). Rub a few drops of oil to cover the surface of the round, fold it to half and fold it again to form quarter circle. Make these quarter circles with rest of the dough, keep them aside either dusted or oiled so they do not stick to each other. 
Take one of the quarter circles and flatten out evenly taking care - by dusting or oiling- so that it will not stick to the surface.

Heat (on medium-high) and grease a griddle (or tava) lightly, place the flatten chapati. Dot with few drops of oil on the edges and on top. Once you see the air bubble expanding to most of the chapati, turn it so the other side can be cooked. Adjust heat so the chapati do not get burned.
Repeat flattening and cooking with all the quarter circles. Serve warm with any curry or spiced yogurt.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Homemade Paneer (Indian Cottage cheese)

Paneer is fresh Indian cheese that is star ingredients in dishes like Paneer Masala, Paneer Tikka. Although this can be readily found these days in Indian stores, you did not have proper paneer until you had a homemade version. The store bought ones tends to be little rubbery when used in cooking and always have that weird smell. The homemade one smells rather heavenly. :)

Making Paneer at home may sound industrious, but, it is not so. Trust me.

What you need to make Paneer:

  • Half gallon Whole Milk
  • Juice from 1 lemon

How to make:

Pour milk into a heavy bottomed vessel and set on the stove on medium-high heat.
Bring milk to a boil, stirring occasionally to avoid milk solids collecting at the bottom.
Once it comes to boil, add lemon juice and reduce heat to medium setting. Stir gently.
In 2-4 minutes, milk curdles well leaving a clear whey.

Notice the curds floating to the top

Line a heat-resistant colander with cheesecloth and place it in a clean kitchen sink.Pour the curdled milk into it. Drain for couple of minutes.

While keeping the paneer in the colander, twist the cheesecloth few times to secure the curds. Tuck the extra cloth evenly. Place the colander it in a deep plate. Place a flat plate on top of the curd, and put some weight like a can of beans on it.

Transfer this entire setting into refrigerator. Within 2-3 hours. The paneer is well-formed and ready to use.

Wonderful Paneer!!...

Note: The paneer packed airtight and stored in the refrigerator would keep fresh for a week.

Persimmon and Pomegranate Yogurt

Of late, I find myself making this yummy, healthy yogurt very frequently. The beauty of this is, it can be made within no time! I'm not much of a fan of yogurt, but can consume it when that yogurty smell is masked with fruits/spices. Pomegranate has always been the fruit of choice if I have to consume yogurt. Next place is mango slices. Now, am adding Persimmon to the list.  This even got the taste approval from my 1 year old one. (For her, I've mashed the Pomegranate seeds, extracted the liquid and mixed it with yogurt and very finely chopped Persimmon.)

What you need:
1 medium sized Persimmon, peeled and chopped into small pieces
1 fistful fresh Pomegranate seeds
1 - 1 1/2 cups fresh low-fat plain yogurt
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon honey

How to make this divine yogurt:
Mix all ingredients gently.
Serve and enjoy!

This makes 2 -3 servings.

Note: It is important to use fresh yogurt that has not gone sour.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Stir-fried Shrimp with Sugar snap peas

Chinese cooking is very simple and easy to make. In authentic Chinese cuisines, the use of meat is more for flavoring than being main ingredient and the emphasis is on locally grown vegetables. The authentic Chinese cooking bear no resemblance to the salty & greasy sauce floats we normally see in restaurants across US.

The background star of this dish is Shallots. These have this sweet delicate flavor  when cooked that reminds me of the onions that we get back in India. Until very recently, I used to think, like many, that shallots are a variety of onions. But shallots grow in clusters like garlic versus single bulb like in onions. Shallots are very commonly used in South Asian cooking. Although these are little pricey compared to onions here in US, its worth trying them. Anyways, most recipes call for small quantities of shallots only.

The sweet, delicate flavors of shallots and sugar snap peas compliment the kung pao sauce and shrimp.

What you need:
20-25 large uncooked Shrimp, cleaned, de-veined
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
3 or 4 fistfuls sugar snap peas, cleaned
1/2 cup baby corn, cut into 1 inch pieces (optional)
1/4 - 1/3 cup kung pao sauce
1/4 cup scallions, chopped
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons good quality sesame oil
Salt, if needed (i.e, if the salt is not enough from the sauce)
Freshly ground black pepper for taste

Prep Work:
Bring four cups of water to boil in a saucepan. Add sugar snap peas, cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, drain well and place sugar snap peas in ice water to stop further cooking. Once cooled well, drain and keep aside.

How to make:
  • Heat oil on high heat. Add garlic and shallots. Stir-fry for few seconds until the sweet aroma comes out of shallots.
  • Add cleaned shrimp. Stir-fry until the shrimp is opaque. Add the sauce, baby corn and ground pepper. Stir fry for 2 minutes. Note: Add sauce in a quantity that is suited your taste.
  • Add sugar snap peas, mix well. Check for salt and add if required. Stir fry for few more seconds, add the scallions (green onions) and remove from heat.

Note: As you can notice, my sugar snap peas are cooked a little too much. I've adjusted the time in the recipe given here. The peas should be crunchy and should not form wrinkles (an indication of overcooking).

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dosakaya Koora (Yellow cucumber curry - Guntur style)

This is one of those dishes that reminds me of Amma and my childhood memories. Memories of me and my siblings sitting on the veranda while Amma feeds us rice mixed with curry and ghee, mixed to perfection. We would gulp down morsel after morsel, without realizing how full we are. After all, the food came from Amma's hand...

What you need to make this koora:
1 large Dosakaya (Indian yellow cucumber)
1 medium sized onion, chopped
2 green chillies, chopped into 1/4" pieces
2 tomatoes (optional)
1- 1 1/2 cups fresh yogurt (absolutely NO non-fat, low-fat varieties. Plain, whole
milk yogurt)
Salt to taste
Red chili powder to taste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

For tadka or seasoning:
1 -2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 tsp each, chana dal, urad dal, black mustard seeds, cumin seeds
1 or 2 dry red chilies, broken into 1" pieces
1 sprig curry leaves
Prep Work:
  • Peel dosakaya just as you peel regular cucumber. Slice into half.
  • Check the seeds and flesh for any bitter taste.
  • If the flesh is bitter, discard the dosakaya. If not, Remove all the seeds. If the seeds have bitter taste, peel the membrane that connects the seeds, wash the flesh part thoroughly with water.
  • Slice length-wise and chop into small bite sized pieces.
How to make:
  • Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. When the oil starts "dancing", add all tadka items. Saute until a nice aroma comes out and the mustard seeds stop spluttering.
  • Add onion and green chili pieces and turmeric powder.
  • Saute until the onions are soft and light brown in color, stirring occasionally.
  • Add tomatoes and dosakaya pieces, salt and red chili powder. Reduce heat to medium. Mix well, cover and cook, until done, stirring now and then.
  • Add yogurt, adjust salt (if needed), mix gently and cook without lid until you see the curry starts bubbling on top. Simmer on very low heat for 2 minutes, remove from heat.

Dosakaya or Indian yellow cucumbers are available at Indian groceries. This is not a regular vegetable that makes an appearance in the usual US grocery stores. See picture here. It is the pale yellow one next to tomatoes.)
Serving suggestion: Although this goes better with either rice or roti, it tastes best with warm steamed rice, melted ghee. Yum!!!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Kung Pao Tofu

Cold winters call for warm meals. Few days back, I was craving something spicy, filling, healthy, all the good things one can ask in a meal. Oh, of course, it has to be easy and quick to make :-)
Once you make this dish, you'll agree with me that it has met all those expectations!  Caution though! This will spoil you to an extent that the salty-greasy sauce laden kung-pao dishes in restaurants will be of a thing in the past!

What you need:

1 pack firm Tofu, drained well, cubed into bite sized pieces
2 egg whites (optional)
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 dry red chillies
1/2 - 3/4 cup Kung Pao Sauce
1 cup carrots, cut into bite sized pieces. (I used baby carrots)
1/2 cup spring onions (scallions), chopped
two fistfuls unsalted roasted peanuts
Salt and ground pepper for taste

How to make:
  • Make Sauce following the recipe or use one that was made before. If the sauce is cold, heat it on low heat.
  • Whisk egg whites, and pour it over tofu pieces. Season with salt and pepper.
  • In a wok, heat 1 tablespoon cooking oil on high heat. Add tofu pieces. Saute until they are crisp outside, but soft inside. Take tofu out and keep aside. Coating with egg whites gives Tofu a velvety appearance and a delicate taste.

  • In the same wok, heat rest of the oil, add red chillies. Add tofu back, add carrots, kung pao sauce, peanuts. Mix gently and saute for 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add shallots, saute for 10-15 seconds.
  • Serve hot with steamed rice. Yum!!

Kung Pao Sauce

Many weeks back, I watched Chef Ming Tsai stirring up this wonderful Kung Pao sauce. I got this immense urge to try the sauce immediately and made this Kung Pao Tofu. Ever since, I might have made different Kung Pao dishes many times. The sauce is "Simply" magical!

What you need to make this tasty sauce:

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 inch ginger, minced well,
2 tablespoons sambal oelek
8 medium sized garlic cloves, mincedgarlic
2-3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup soy sauce (I've used Lee Kum Kee's)
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon corn starch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
Salt and pepper to taste
  • In a wok or saucepan, heat canola oil over high heat.
  • Add ginger, garlic, saute for a minute. Add sambal oelek. Mix well for 10 seconds.
  • Add soy sauce, rice vinegar and sugar. Bring to boil quickly.
  • Slowly add the cornstarch mix, whisking continuously. Cook until the sauce thickens.
  • This makes about 2 cups sauce.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Namaste from India

I've come to India after two years for a visit. So far, enjoying my time here. Will post as time permits.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Cilantro and red chilies pickle - Kothimeera, pandu mirapa paCHAdi

Chilies in many forms, from colorful fresh ones to dried ones to various kinds of chili powders have become an integral part of Indian cooking (though these guys are not native to the subcontinent.)

Newbies to Indian grocery stores often are awed at dedicated aisle for pickles. A peek into any South Indian pantry would reveal jars of various pickles that look inviting. The aroma of well made pickle transports me back to my grand parents' village, the rainy days and to the perfectly mixed piping hot steamed rice with ghee and the prized pickle. It reminds of the soil that produced the ingredients, the hands of my mom and grandma skillfully convert the raw materials into heavenly concoction.

Pickle making in Indian families is a knowledge that is passed from older generation women to younger generations. It was a sight of pleasure to see all the womenfolk in the family (and sometimes in the neighborhood) come together to churn up jars and jars of delicious pickles. This pickle, a modern one, I have learned from my mother.

Ripe red chilies (long variety) are hard to find in US super markets. I got lucky on one of these days and spotted them in a grocery store. How fitting, just when JFI ingredient is chilies! JFI was started by Indiraji of Mahanandi and is hosted by Nandita of Saffron Trail

Much of the preparation in this recipe is actually waiting. So, patience and a slow day are key ingredients. :-)

What you need to make this recipe

9-10 long fresh red chilies ( 2 cups when cut into half inch pieces)
3-5 large bunches of cilantro
large lemon sized tamarind
2 tbsp peanut or sesame oil
Salt to taste

For popu/tadka or seasoning or talimpu

5 tbsp peanut or sesame oil
1 tbsp chana dal
1 tbsp urad dal
1 tsp mustard seeds
3 dry red chilies, snipped into half inch pieces
fistful of fresh curry leaves
4 cloves garlic, pounded lightly

Prep Work:
-Wash and take stems off red chilies. Wipe them with kitchen towel and let them dry until no moisture can be felt on skins.
-Pick any yellow or rotten leaves out of cilantro bunches. Wash gently and spread them on a kitchen towel in thin layer. Let then dry. No moisture should be there in the leaves.
-Wash tamarind and cook in 1/2 cup of water until it turns soft. Allow it to cool, and squeeze the pulp. Keep it aside.

Note: It is very important to use dry hands and utensils while making a pickle. Otherwise, the pickle would not preserve well.
  • Cut the red chilies into pieces. Heat 2tbsp of oil in a pan. Add the pieces to heated oil, saute until the chilies become soft. Remove from pan, keep aside.
  • Add Cilantro to the same oil, saute until cilntro is wilted. If the quantity is more, do not add at once. Saute in batches. Take cilantro out, spread in a plate evenly in a thin layer.
  • Let both red chilies and cilantro cool completely.

  • Blend red chilies, cilnatro, tamarind pulp and salt together to form a thick paste. Do not add water. I used food processor to make this as food processor does not require too much liquid to move.
  • For tadka/seasoning, heat 4-5 tbsp oil in the same pan.
  • When the oil starts "dancing", add tadka ingredients one by one. Saute until the garlic is softened. Add the ground paste, stir well. Adjust salt according to taste. The pickle should be a bit salty to preserve well. Cook on medium heat, stirring continuously for 3 minutes.
  • Take off of heat, let it completely cool before transferring into clean, dry jar or glass bottle.
This pickle may be served with Dosas, Idlies, Roties or simply mixed with steamed rice with some Ghee (clarified butter).
-This pickle keeps well for 2 -3 months without refrigeration.
-The pickle should be glistening. If it looks dry, heat some sesame or peanut oil and
pour over the pickle, mix well and preserve.
-As ready-made tamarind pastes are too viscous and too tangy, it is best to use freshly made pulp as the fresh one would be sweeter.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Artichokes - Genovese style - from Food TV

My love for artichokes is blind :-) Why blind? Because, I can't decide what I love about them. May be its the after taste or may be its their ability to absorb other flavors while their own flavor stands out. Being so smitten about artichokes, how can I pass on a recipe that is shown by Giada De Laurentis on her Everyday Italian show. In this recipe, the artichokes are trimmed, stuffed with sauteed mushroom mixture and then cooked whole in white wine. She cuts the intensity of wine with a cup of water. I've followed the recipe for most part, except, I have not used prosciutto. I've substituted the meaty flavor by using baby Portabello mushrooms than regular white button mushrooms. The result was, very delicious!! Once done, its was fun eating it. Best thing to eat while watching movie! Oh, yeah!
But, making it takes some patience and time. Check the recipe out and you'll know. But, the reward was worth the effort.

For people familiar with Indian food, Artichokes resemble a little in taste with drumsticks, but Artichokes has more complex flavor than drumsticks. The similarity also extends how these are eaten. Artichoke leaves can be chewed just like drumsticks.

What you Need to make this superb dish
4 good quality fresh artichokes
2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lb baby bello mushrooms, chopped
1 medium sized onion, chopped finely
4 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 tsp dry parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 cups drinking quality white wine
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Note: Using drinking quality white wine enhances the flavor of artichokes.
Prep Work:
Trim Artichokes by cutting top off. And trim the leaves by snipping the top half of the edge.

  • Heat 2-3 tbsp olive oil in a skillet at medium-high heat. Add garlic before the oil gets heated. Once the oil is hot enough, add onions and parsley saute for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until they are golden brown in color, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, keep aside and let it cool.
  • Once cooled, add grated Parmesan, salt and pepper, mix well. Keep aside.
  • Pull apart the leaves gently and stuff mushroom mixture between the leaves.
  • Once all the artichokes are stuffed, place them in a wide, heavy bottomed, high-sided saucepan. The artichokes should sit tightly so that they would not fall apart once cooked.

  • Pour wine and water (not on top of the artichokes, but, in the gap between them). Pour 1/4 cup of olive oil over them. Cover and bring it to boil on a medium-high heat. Once comes to boil, reduce the heat to 'low' and let it simmer for 45-50 minutes or until the artichoke leaves are tender.
  • Serve while they are still hot.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Punjabi Kichdi - Rice and Mung lentil preparation, Punjabi style

Garden bounty

Fruits of backyard gardening:

Ullikaram - (Spicy onion paste)

This is a simple, pungent and delicious preparation that takes less than a two minutes to make, that too it uses only four ingredients! But the usage options are endless. This paste can be used to make 'Karam Dosa' (lentil and rice crepe smeared with spicy paste), can be added to 'igurus' (Andhra dry curries), can be mixed in roti or parantha dough or simply served with rice with heated sesame oil or smear on a slice of bread while making sandwich or burger.

What you need to make this paste:
1 medium sized onion
1.5 tbsp good quality spicy red chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
Salt to taste

Peel onion and chop roughly. Place all ingredients in food processor and process to a coarse paste. Use immediately or store in air-tight container in refrigerator. Keeps well for a week if refrigerated.


Saturday, June 30, 2007

Kashmiri Dahi Baingan

(Eggplants in Kashmiri style yogurt sauce)

The ingredients and the deep frying part may make calorie-conscious people gasp with horror, but, it is not that bad. The eggplants do not absorb much oil if the oil is kept at right temperature. This dish is going to take your palette on a tantalizing journey! Enjoy!

adapted from recipe by Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor
What you need to make this curry:
4 medium sized long eggplants (Indian or Japanese variety)
4-5 cardamoms
1 tsp fennel seeds (saunf)
1/2 tsp dry ginger powder
1 cup fresh yogurt
1/2 to 1 tsp red chili powder
Salt to taste
2 tbsp Oil plus for frying

Prep Work:

Wash eggplants, slit into quarters lengthwise. Place them in salted water.
Pound fennel seeds to a coarse powder.


  • Heat 1/2 to 1 cup cooking oil in a saucepan on medium-high heat.
  • Take few pieces of eggplant, dry them by blotting with kitchen towel. Fry for 2 minutes or until the pieces are light brown in color. Remove and place them on a paper towel.
  • Repeat until all pieces of eggplant are done.
  • In a deep skillet, heat 1-2 tbsp cooking oil, add cardamoms. Saute for 15-20 seconds. Carefully add yogurt, start stirring immediately. Add salt, cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add fennel powder, ginger powder, red chili powder, mix well. Cook, stirring continuously for 3 minutes or until the yogurt breaks down.
  • Add eggplant pieces, adjust salt, mix gently. Cook for another minute, remove from heat.
This tastes great with vegetable pulao or biryani or steamed basmati rice.

adapted from recipe by Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor

Monday, June 18, 2007

Chepala Vepudu - Fish fry - Andhra Style

This is a spicy fish curry, made by shallow frying fish pieces coated with spice mixture and topped with seasoned wilted onions.

This dish can be made with a variety of fish. But, somehow, salmon and tuna are not suited. Any cut of fish is also fine. Cook times can vary depending on the fish and cut. For example, tilapia may take a minute more than sea bass; thin fillets take less time than steaks. I made this with wild Pacific Dover Sole (which, is a flat fish) fillets.

Supper for my husband, DS, yesterday
What I used to make this dish:
2 lb Pacific Dover Sole fillets
1 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1 medium onion, sliced
4-5 green chilies, slit vertically
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1-2 tbsp cooking oil + some for shallow frying the fish
Tadka items:a teaspoon each of chana daal, urad daal, mustard seeds, jeera/cumin seeds and a fistful of fresh curry leaves (yep! that many curry leaves needed. This is what gives this dish nice aroma.)

For spice mixture:
3/4 cup besan/chickpea/garbanzo flour
3-4 tbsp red chili powder
1 tsp dhania/coriander powder
1/2 tsp jeera/cumin powder
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp cooking oil
Prep work:
  • Cut fish into bite sized or portion sized pieces. Sprinkle turmeric powder and a tablespoon of salt. Rub the fish pieces well. Leave for 5 minutes. Wash the fish pieces under cold water, squeeze gently, take into a mixing bowl.
  • Add items listed under spice mixture, salt (keep in mind that the pieces had been rubbed with salt before) and gently coat the fish pieces, adding very little water. You may sieve the flour to achieve good application.
  • Cover the mixing bowl, place it in refrigerator for 30 minutes.


  • Heat a table spoon oil in a skillet (use well-seasoned cast iron one for better taste) to medium heat. Add the marinated fish pieces on a single layer. Keep some space between the pieces. Cook on each side for a minute or until they are medium-brown color on both sides. Drain on a kitchen towel. If there are more pieces, shallow-fry them in batches. Once all done, go to next step.
  • In the same skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of cooking oil. Add the tadka items one by one. Once the mustard seeds stop spluttering, add onions, green chilies, garlic and little salt. Saute until the onions are wilted. Add a teaspoon of red chili powder, saute for 30 seconds.
  • Return the fish pieces back into skillet, gently coat them with the wilted onions. Lower the heat to lowest setting, heat for 2 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, squeeze lime juice before serving.
Serving suggestion: Can be served as appetizer or as a side dish with steamed rice and Andhra Pepper Rasam.

Supper for my husband, DS, yesterday

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Guthivankaya (with Thai eggplants)

(Stuffed eggplants in poppy seed-peanut sauce)Ask a group of four people from Andhra how to make guthivankaya, you'll be bombarded with at least 25 recipes. Brinjal, the way eggplant is referred in India, is very dear to a person from Andhra. Since old times, at least one variety of brinjal dish would make appearance in small or large feasts. "Pappannam", playfully referred to wedding lunch/dinner, is incomplete without a brinjal dish. Such is importance of eggplant in Andhra.
It is a delight to know that this month's JFI vegetable is eggplant. JFI, started by Indira of Mahanandi, hosted by Sangeeta of Ghar ka Khana
This dish is made by my sister, LP, who is visiting me at present; and, is my entry for JFI-Eggplant.

What you need to make this dish:
8 Thai eggplants
3 tbsp cooking oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped finely
1 medium tomato, chopped finely
2-4 green chilies, slit
Salt to taste
tadka items: 1tsp each of chana dal, urad dal, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and curry leaves from one sprig
Fresh cilantro, for garnishing

To be ground into paste:
1 fistful peanuts/groundnuts
4-6 dry red chilies
1 tsp coriander/dhania seeds
1/2 tsp cumin/jeera seeds
2 tbsp khuskhus/poppy seeds
1 + 1/2 tbsp raw tamarind or 1 tsp tamarind paste
2 cloves garlic
Salt to taste
Prep Work:
Soak Tamarind in 1/2 cup warm water for 10-15 minutes. Mash little bit before adding it to the blender.
Soak poppy seeds in 1/4 cup water for 10-15 minutes. Discard the water.
Dry roast peanuts. Remove skins if any. Keep aside.
Dry roast dhania seeds, jeera seeds, red chilies until done.
Take all items listed for the paste in a blender, blend to get a semi-smooth thick paste. Do not add too much water. Add only the amount required for the blender to move (this includes the tamarind water).

  • Wash eggplants, cut into quarters without separating. Place the cut eggplants in a salted water bowl to keep them from discoloring.
  • Take one eggplant out, squeeze well, stuff it with the paste made. Keep aside. Repeat this with rest of eggplants. Keep aside the remaining paste.
  • Heat 2 tbsp oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add eggplants, stir carefully to coat them with oil. Cover and cook until the eggplants are almost done, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove the eggplants from the skillet, keep aside.
  • In the same skillet, add remaining oil, heat it to medium heat. Add tadka items one by one. When the mustard seeds stop spluttering, add onions, green chilies, little salt (keep in mind that the paste has salt too). Saute until the onion is cooked to light-brown color.
  • Add tomato pieces, cover and cook for 3 minutes or until done.
  • Add the remaining paste and 1/4 cup water. Return the eggplants to skillet. Mix gently. Once the sauce starts simmering, reduce heat, simmer for 7-9 minutes or until the eggplants are completely done.
  • Remove from heat, garnish with fresh cilantro, serve with steamed rice or roti.

Served with rice
Shopping Notes: Choose young Thai eggplants with thick stems. The ones with thin stems are old ones, which are bitter and have tough seeds, not suitable for this dish. The color of the stems should be dark green, not brown with fungus :-)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Steamed bean-leaf with sesame dressing

Bean Leaf

This is a very straight-forward dish, easy to make, and full of flavor. As I posted in my last post, steaming is ideal way to bring out earthy flavors from greens.
I got the snowpea leaf from Hong Kong Market in Houston. Ever since I tasted this two years ago, I'm hooked on it. Up until recently, I used to saute it with garlic and soy sauce. Once I started steaming, I liked it, and finally bought the steamer.

What you need to make this dish:
3-4 handfuls of snowpea leaves
2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
soy sauce to taste
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 -2 teaspoons sesame oil

Wash the leaves and drain well in a drainer or on a kitchen towel.
Wash the steamer with water.
Arrange the leaves in both levels of steamer. Pour 1/2 cup water in a wok and place steamer in a wok. Heat on medium heat.
Let the water boil for 3-5 mins or until the greens are done. Keep adding water little by little, but never leave the wok dry.
Remove steamer from wok. Take the greens into a serving dish.
Heat oil in a small skillet, add garlic, sesame seeds, red chili flakes. Saute for 30 seconds. Add soy sauce. Saute for another 30 sec. Pour over greens. Mix gently. Serve with steamed white or brown or fried rice.