Baingan Bharta (with green onions)

How many of you all like Eggplant/ Aubergine or Brinjal – as it is popularly known in India? I am sure there are many of you who have a love-hate relationship with this vegetable (errrr…I think its a fruit technically…..but that is an another topic for discussion). Same is the case with my husband. On days when I make some simple sabji using baby eggplants and potato, he will compensate it by having lots of pickle or papad or salad on the side with roti……hahahaha. But fortunately Baingan Bharta (oh by the way…baingan means eggplant in Hindi) or roasted eggplant stir fry is an exception. In fact he even enjoys Baba ghanoush a lot (its a Mediterranean dip made with broiled/roasted eggplant and tahini) which is some what similar to Baingan Bharta. I think its the smoky flavor of the roasted eggplant that gives both these dishes a unique flavor. So even in baingan bharta the eggplant is roasted until its tender and charred to perfection. The smoky flavor is what makes Baingan Bharta so irresistibly yummy. I love eggplants especially Baingan Bharta, its my absolute favorite.

 
Baingan bharta originated in the state of Punjab, India. However it is very popular all across India and there are many different versions of it. In this post I will be sharing my version which happens to be my mothers version and that involves the use of green onions or spring onions. I am sure this version is also very common but this is how we make it at home most of the time. If you don’t have green onions or simply want to make it without green onions, skip it and simply follow the rest of the recipe.    

After living in US for over 4 years now, I have noticed that the type of eggplant that you buy makes a lot of difference. I have tried the large American eggplants previously for this recipe but trust me it doesn’t work. The large eggplants in my opinion are less flavorful, thick skinned and take a lot of time to cook. Moreover it cooks very unevenly and the skin doesn’t come of easily after roasting. I usually look for smaller eggplants, here they are labeled as Italian eggplants and these are the best kinds for preparing Baingan Bharta. They are far more tastier than the larger eggplants, thin skinned and takes a lot less time to cook. So next time whenever you are planning to make this dish lookout for eggplants that are smaller in size, has smooth shiny skin and the stem is nice green in color and not brown. On that note, lets checkout the recipe.

Ingredients:

Serves 2 people

2 medium sized eggplants
1 medium sized onion – chopped
1 small to medium sized tomato -chopped
2 – 3 stalks of spring onion or green onions – chopped (greens and whites separated)
1 tsp of garlic grated/paste
1 tsp of ginger grated/paste
1/4 tsp of turmeric powder
1/2 tsp of red chili powder/kashmiri chili powder
1 tsp of coriander powder
1/2 tsp of cumin seeds
1/4 tsp of garam masala (optional)
1 – 2 tbsp of oil
Salt to taste
Cilantro/Coriander leaves for garnishing
Feel free to adjust the spice level as per your liking. 

Method:

1) Wash and wipe the eggplants. Apply little oil all over the eggplant and place it on the gas stove for roasting. You can do this by directly placing it on the open flame or placing it on a wire rack like the one I have in the pic. Keep turning the eggplant after every 1 to 2 mins. It will not take more than 15 mins to roast the eggplants completely. Check if they are cooked completely by inserting a knife. If the knife goes in very easily then they are done. Remove from the wire rack and place them in a bowl and close it with a lid. I feel that this additional step helps in retaining the smoky flavor.
Note: You can also bake or broil the eggplants in the oven. I have tried baking, it doesn’t give the same smoky flavor. But you can give broiling a try. 
2) Once the eggplants are cool enough to handle, start peeling of the skin and cut of the stem. All that you will be left with will be the soft inner flesh. Roughly chop with a knife or simply use a fork to mash them (see pic) and keep it aside.
3) Heat oil in a non stick pan, once hot add cumin seeds and let them splutter. Add chopped onions and white part of green onions. Cook the onions on a medium flame till they are translucent and cooked through. Then add the grated ginger and garlic and sauté for few seconds till the raw smell goes away. Add the chopped tomatoes sauté for few mins followed by adding all the spices which is turmeric powder, chili powder, coriander powder and salt to taste. Cook this masala until the masalas are fragrant and tomatoes are mashed.
4) Now add the mashed eggplant to the masala and mix nicely. Cover the pan with a lid and cook on a low – medium flame for around 5- 8 mins. Open the lid and add the final ingredient that is the chopped greens of the green onions. Mix and let it cook for another 2 – 3 mins. Check and adjust salt and finish of with very little garam masala powder (optional) and switch off the flame. And finally garnish with chopped cilantro/coriander leaves.

Serve hot with phulkas or rotis/chapatis.

So until next time…..Happy Cooking 😊

Swiss Chard Stir Fry (Swiss Chard Paruppu Thoran)

Happy New year everyone 😃
I am going to keep my first post of 2017 simple and healthy by sharing an easy everyday side dish recipe. This is a very simple recipe and works best on days when you just want something with less oil and masala. 
After moving to US I really miss the fresh green leafy vegetables that we get in India. It is really difficult to find really good and fresh leafy vegetables in Indian stores here and the varieties sometimes are limited to spinach and methi. It is only recently that I stumbled upon some good drumstick leaves. Anyhow all of this prompted me to try the local leafy vegetables available here in US. So far I have tried Collard greens, Kale (curly ones and plain ones) and Swiss chard. And I must tell you that amongst these Swiss chard is by far my favorite. Swiss chard is not only delicious but is also rich in vitamin A, K and C. It also has significant content of vitamin E, magnesium, manganese, potassium and iron. 
I always have a bunch of swiss chard in my weekly grocery list. I just love the flavor of swiss chard compared to the other greens. Also it goes without saying that it makes very delicious thoran. You can easily replace the swiss chard in this recipe with collard greens, kale, cabbage, cauliflower or longs beans. I have already shared long beans thoran earlier on my blog (you can find the recipe here) the only difference in this recipe is that I have included split bengal gram (chana dal) and ginger in this recipe. So lets get cooking shall we?

Ingredients:

2 medium bunch of Swiss Chard or 1 big bunch (I used rainbow chard for this recipe you can use any like red, rainbow or green)
1/2 cup of par boiled split bengal gram/chana dal (cooked till al dente, do not overcook)
1 medium sized onion finely chopped
4 – 5 curry leaves
1/2 tsp of mustard seeds
1 – 2 tsp of oil
Salt to taste

For the coconut masala
1/3 cup freshly grated coconut
1/2 tsp of cumin seeds
1 -2 cloves of garlic
1 inch of ginger
1 – 2 green chilies
1/4 tsp of turmeric powder

Method:

1) First prep the swiss chard leaves. Wash the leaves thoroughly. Tear or cut the leaves and separate it from the stalks. Chop the stalks into small pieces and keep this aside. 
For easy chopping of the leaves, stack one leaf over other, do this with as many leaves as you can and then roll it and then chop it as finely as possible. No hard and fast rule on chopping it finely. Keep it as big or small as you want. Keep the chopped leaves and stalks separately. Also chop the onion and keep it aside.

2) Now in a mixer/blender bowl add the grated coconut, garlic, ginger, green chilies, cumin seeds and turmeric powder. Give it a few pulse until all the ingredients are nicely combined. You just need to give it 2 – 3 pulse else it will form a paste and we don’t want that.

3) In a wide pan or kadai heat oil. Once hot add the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Now add the curry leaves and chopped onions. Saute for few mins till the onions turn translucent.

4) Now add the stalks, saute and cook it for a min or two. The stalks should be added before adding the leaves as it takes a bit more time to cook as compared to the leaves.

5) Now add the prepared coconut masala and the cooked split bengal gram/chana dal.  Saute for a minute till the raw smell of ginger and garlic goes away.

6) Finally add the chopped leaves and salt to taste and mix everything thoroughly. Cook on a low to medium for 10- 12 mins until the leaves are nicely cooked and looks a little dry.

That’s it. Serve hot as a side dish with chapatis, rotis or with rice and any curry.

Tendli Sabzi (Ivy Gourd Stir Fry)

Tendli, tindora, kovakai or ivy gourd is a vegetable which is prepared in almost all Indian households. There are many ways of preparing this nutritious vegetable. The most regular or popular way of using this vegetable is by making a stir fry. Tendli is also used to make chutneys which I still have to try and hoping to share that recipe as well sometime soon. 

Today I will be sharing an everyday side dish recipe that can be served with rotis or phulkas. This is  a no onion, no garlic and no tomato recipe which is very easy and quick to put together and can be prepared in a jiffy. Chop the tendli the night before and prepare the stir fry in the morning for your lunch box or for a quick lunch at home.  

Ingredients:
3 – 4 cups of tendli/tindora/ivy gourd washed and chopped lengthwise
2 tbsp of oil 
1/2 tsp of mustard seeds
1/2 tsp of cumin seeds
1 green chili chopped 
4 – 5 curry leaves 
A pinch of hing or asafoetida
1/4th tsp of turmeric powder
1/2 -1 tsp of chili powder 
1/2 tsp of jeera powder 
1 – 2 tsp of coriander powder 
2 – 3 tsp of roasted peanut powder (optional)
1 – 2 tsp of fresh coconut (optional)
Coriander/cilantro leaves for garnishing

Method:

1) Wash the tendli thoroughly. Trim off the ends and chop the tendli length wise and keep this aside.

2) In a pan (preferable a wide fry pan), heat oil. Once hot add the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Then add the cumin seeds and let it splutter as well follow this by adding the asafoetida. At this point reduce the gas flame to low. 

3) Now add all the spice powders followed by green chili and curry leaves. Saute this for few seconds. 
4) Increase the gas flame to medium and add the chopped tendli/tindora to the pan and mix everything nicely. Add salt to taste. 

5) Cover and cook for 10 – 15 mins on a low to medium flame. Cook until the tendli is nice and tender. For this recipe further cook the tendli for 5 more minutes until it is a little golden brown and a bit crispy. 
6) This step is optional. Add the roasted peanut powder, freshly grated coconut, chopped cilantro and mix everything. Keep the sabzi for an additional minute and then switch off the flame. If you do not prefer roasted peanut powder and coconut simply finish off with chopped coriander leaves/cilantro. 
Simple tendli sabji is ready. Serve hot with fulkas or rotis. 

Mushroom Mutter Sabji

Unlike my hubby, I like mushrooms in our indian style curries and sabjis. Many of my relatives and friends hate mushroom. I, on the other hand cannot think of any vegetable that i hate. Whenever we go grocery shopping my list includes a box of fresh cute little button mushrooms. I love incorporating them in my weekly meals in some or the other way and make my hubby eat them as well :P. Amongst the various dishes that i have tried, one of my favorite is tossing them with veggies for making stuffed omelette. Some facts, mushrooms are low calorie food and are excellent source of B vitamins and essential minerals.

Today i will be sharing an easy peasy (literally since peas are involved :P) everyday Indian side dish recipe of mushroom. 

Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 cup cleaned and chopped button mushrooms
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas (i used frozen)
1 onion chopped
1 tbsp of ginger-garlic paste
2 tbsp of oil
1/2 inch of cinnamon stick
1 clove
1/4th tsp of turmeric powder
1/2 tsp of cumin powder
1 to 1 1/2 tsp of coriander powder
1 tsp (or less) chili powder
1/2 tsp of garam masala
1/ tsp of crushed kasuri methi (optional)
3 tbsp of beaten yogurt/curd at room temperature (you can also use tomatoes in place of yogurt)
Water as needed

Method:
1) Heat oil in a pan. Add the cinnamon and clove and saute. The addition of these two gives a very subtle sweet taste and nice aroma. 
2) Now add the chopped onions and keep on stirring until it turns translucent and is almost on verge of turning golden brown. Add the ginger garlic paste and mix. Cook for few seconds until the raw aroma of ginger and garlic goes away. 
3) Add all the spice powders except garam masala. Saute for about 2 – 3 mins. Now reduce the flame and add the yogurt. If you are using tomatoes add them at this stage. Cook for few mins. 
4) I like the consistency of the curry to be more on the dry side to have with chapatis. You can add more water if you want more gravy. Now add the peas and mushrooms and mix everything well. Add salt to taste. Cover and cook for about 5 mins. Since i used frozen peas they take very less time to cook. If you are using fresh peas cook them in boiling water for few mins until half done and add it to the gravy or the other option is to add the peas first to the gravy let them cook and when half done add the mushrooms. If you want the gravy to be rich and thick you can also add paste of cashew nuts. 
5) Finally add the garam masala and kasuri methi and mix. Let it cook for a min. Addition of kasuri methi is optional. Garnish with cilantro/coriander leaves if desired.
Everyday mushroom mutter sabji is ready. Serve hot with phulkas/rotis or chapatis.