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.

New member in kitchen

Small Bamboo Steamer
Bamboo steamer- available in most of oriental grocery stores. This one is almost $6 from Hong Kong Market in Houston.

Steaming is ideal way to cook delicate foods like greens, fish. It brings out the flavor to fullest without much loss of nutrients. Try steaming your favorite greens next time rather than sauteing or frying; add seasoning at the end. Let me know how you like it.
If you don't have a steamer, pour some water in a wide vessel which has two handles, tie a cheesecloth around its mouth. place greens or the food you want to steam on the cloth, cover with a dome shaped lid. This is in fact, how our ancestors steamed their food before the fancy steamers made their way.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Amchi Mumbai Street Food - Aloo Tikki with Ragda

(....A.k.a Chaat or ragda patties...)

When I first visited Mumbai, the only thing I liked is the street food. Next time, I fell in love with the city itself; bustling with life, busy and hard working people trying to make ends meet. It is a good way to unwind the day's stress with a vada-pav or pav-bhaji or ragda-patti or pani-puri etc etc and piping hot chai. What separates an outsider from the city crowd is the bewildered look on his/her face while watching the street-wallah churning up these delicacies :-) Many of these street vendors have improved their hygiene in the recent past so we can devour these all time favs.

For Tikkies:
2 medium-sized boiled potatoes
3-4 baby carrots
1 green chili
salt to taste
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
enough oil to shallow-fry the tikkies
3-4 tbsp sooji or rava

For Ragda:
1.5 cups whole dried yellow peas
salt to taste
3 - 4 cups water
1 tsp chaat masala
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 - 1 tsp red chili powder
1 medium tomato, chopped fine
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 tbsp cooking oil
1 tsp mint leaves, finely chopped
a pinch jaggery
1 tsp finely chopped cilnatro

Prep Work:
Pick and wash the peas. Soak for 2 hours.
Take all the ingredients listed under Tikkies except for rava (sooji), and oil in a food processor. Process until it becomes corase somewhat dry paste. Do not add any water. Make lemon sized balls, flatten evenly, sprinkle lightly with sooji on both sides, and keep aside.

To make Tikkies:
Heat a tablespoon of cooking oil in a skillet. Shallow-fry the tikkies 3 mins each on both sides or until they are golden brown. Sprinkle oil now and then if required. Finish all the tikkies, place them on a kitchen towel.

To make Ragda:
  • Drain peas. Add 2-3 cups water and pressure cook for 1-3 whistles or until they are well-done.
  • While they are still hot, add salt and half of chaat masala and keep aside
  • In a saucepan, heat 1 tbsp oil. Add jeera, half of onions, turmeric powder. When the onions become translucent, add half of tomatoes. Add Salt, remaining chaat masala powder, mint leaves, jaggery, red chili powder.
  • Cook until done. Remove from heat, cool for a while. Blend into smooth puree. Return to stove, add the cooked peas, mix gently. Cook until it starts simmering. Reduce the heat to lowest setting and simmer for 3 min.
  • Remove from heat. Cool for a while.
  • If the ragda is too thin, mash some of it and simmer for few more minutes.
For serving, serve two to three tikkies per person and a ladle or two ragda. Garnish with chopped onions, tomatoes and cilantro.

My contribution for RCI - Mahararashtrian Cuisine

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Pictures from backyard


Bee on Bean flower

Pink Oleander




Heirloom Tomato

Swiss Chard