Stuffed Eggplant curry

With an abundance of eggplant from my small garden I set about making this recipe. It is also a recipe request from a dear friend who lives afar. So Dear Friend this one’s for you!

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Recipe can be made with potato or eggplant. I am not sure about the source of the recipe. I had it noted down and have been making it for many years now.

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INGREDIENTS

4 Lebanese eggplants about 250 g

1 tomato

3 tsp oil

1 tsp each mustard and cummin seeds each

 MASALA

4 cloves garlic

2 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp turmeric powder

4 tsp coriander and cummin powder each

2-3 tsp besan

2 tsp sugar

salt

coriander leaves for garnish

 METHOD

Peel and pound the garlic with the rest of ingredients under masala except coriander leaves. Taste to make adjustments.

Wash and slit the eggplants without cutting it entirely. If the eggplants are big, chop in half then slit the pieces.

Stuff the pieces with the masala mix. Fill as much as it will hold. Save the rest of the masala for future use.

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Fry the cummin,  mustard in the oil then add the tomato. Add two tsp of the masala mix and fry well for a few minutes. Add the stuffed eggplants pieces add 1/2 cup of water and cover and cook. When the eggplant is soft, open, add 2 tsp oil stir and remove. Garnish with coriander leaves.

If using potato follow method but add 1 cup water and pressure cook till done , about 3 whistles.

serves 4

Pasta shells

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Heidi Swanson of the famous 101 cookbook blog recently posted this stuffed shells recipe. Just looking at her beautiful pictures makes you happy! I just had to make it of course. So I did and here it is. Giant jumbo pasta shells filled with a mixture of mozzarella and ricotta, spinach and herbs baked in a simple but delicious  spicy tomato sauce, what’s not to like! I have made very minute changes from the original recipe. Head over to 101cookbooks.com for the original. It’s a beautiful blog.

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SAUCE

3×425 ml can of crushed tomato/ 1x 28 oz and 1×14 oz can of tomatoes

2 tsp hot chilli flakes

4-5 cloves of garlic chopped fine

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup olive oil

In a cold pan combine oil, salt, chilli flakes and bring to heat for 30 seconds. Stir to avoid burning. Add the tomato and bring to a simmer, heat for five minutes. Taste for salt and remove.

FILLING

400 g ricotta cheese

250 g frozen spinach( my addition)

1 egg

salt and pepper

250g grated mozzarella cheese

1 bunch of basil torn up ( Heidi used chives)

1/2 cup of grated Parmesan

1x500g packet of jumbo shells or conchiglioni

Cook the shells the usual way in salted water. Undercook by a couple of minutes because if too soft filling the shells will be a problem as they tend to tear.

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Preheat oven to 180C

Mix the cheese, salt and pepper and beaten egg. Microwave the spinach for three minutes then squeeze dry the liquid. Add this to the cheese mix. Toss in the torn basil. Blend well.

Once the pasta is cooked fill each shell with a tablespoon of the cheese mix. Fill till all the mix is used up. You might have a few shells left empty. Save for later use.

Take a rectangular pan large enough to hold all the pasta but you will require two large ones. I used two lasagne trays 30×22 cm approximately.

Pour 1/3 cup of the sauce in the bottom of the tray. Now arrange the filled shells in rows. Pour the rest of the sauce over the shells.

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Cover the trays with foil and bake in the hot oven for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes.

Serve hot.

serves 4-6

 

 

 

 

 

Mauritian Lemon Pickle

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Recently I got to taste some delightful pickles at a friend’s place. It was lemon pickle with a difference.  It had onion in it and ginger and garlic. Since it all sounded very novel of course I had to experiment. My friend Lucy happily obliged me with the recipe and I promptly made it. Why Mauritian pickle? Because it said so on the recipe… and now I can add ‘expert at Mauritian cuisine’ to my list of accomplishments😜

THINGS YOU NEED

4 ripe lemons

4 tsp salt

white vinegar

1 brown onion

10 dry red chilli or 2Tb chilli powder

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp each turmeric, mustard and fenugreek powder

1 tsp each ginger and garlic minced

METHOD

Wash and dry the lemons. Chop into small pieces and add the salt. Mix well and place in a non-reactive bowl like glass. Top with vinegar, enough to cover the lemon pieces. Cover and keep aside for a week.

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After a week drain the lemon and keep. If using dry chillies grind with the other spice powders. If using powder just mix all. Mince the Ginger and garlic. Mix all the powders and ginger and garlic with the lemon pieces.

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Heat the oil in a frying pan. Fry the onion diced for 30 seconds stirring. Now add the lemon mix and fry stirring for five minutes on medium heat.

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Cool down fully. Mix with dry spoon and bottle it in a dry jar. Seal with two layers of cling wrap between the lid and jar. Do not fridge. Store on your shelf.

Since  this is a borrowed recipe I can’t vouch for the shelf life. I plan to store half of it in the fridge and use the other half for daily use, and I am going to use it daily. It’s that good!

Kerala Mussel fry

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A recipe from DIL, made with surprising speed and agility, ended up tasting delicious and and a keeper of a recipe.

You will need

150 Gm ( weight is cleaned mussels without shells)

1 Tb chilli powder

2 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp fennel powder

2 Tb ginger – garlic paste

2 onions

2 tomatoes

2 green chilli

salt

1 tsp mustard

curry leaves

oil to cook

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METHOD

Start with slicing onions into thin long slices. Chop the green chilli. Crush the garlic and garlic. Chop the tomatoes.

Heat oil in a kadai. Add mustard and curry leaves. Now add the onion and fry till golden brown. Add the garlic and ginger paste. Fry for a minute.

Add the spice powders and fry on low heat for a minute, then add the chopped tomatoes. Fry well till oil floats. Now add the cleaned mussels and salt. Lower heat and fry till done. Cook on low heat to fry well.

Add some more curry leaves and serve hot.

Serves 3-4

Porcini Pasta

Usually there is a grunt of approval from my son if I make a good pasta. But this fettuccine pasta brought forth comments like best I ever made, hall of fame and so on. I have my doubts about that but it is a good pasta. Strong bold flavours from the porcini, mixed with a fresh and tinned tomato sauce, it makes a satisfying pasta indeed.

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INGREDIENTS

500 g fettucine

20 g dry porcini mushroom

1 cup water

1×425 g can of crushed tomato

1 handful cherry tomato

salt and pepper

3 cloves garlic

4 sprigs of fresh thyme

Parmesan cheese grated

olive oil

Heat 2 Tb oil and cook the garlic cloves crushed. Add the tin of tomato. Salt and pepper add then boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile soak the porcini in a cup of water for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes add the porcini with the soaking liquid to the sauce. Boil and add the cherry tomatoes. Add the fresh thyme leaves. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Cook the fettuccine. Add the pasta to the simmering sauce and toss well for 2 minutes in the hot sauce.

Serve ASAP with the grated cheese and a green salad. A glass of chilled wine won’t go astray!

Serves 4

 

 

 

Pickled vegetables

The process of pickling has always fascinated me. My mum, MIL and SIL are all very skilful picklers! There was a sense of ritual to the whole pickle making. Tantalising aromas of various spices and special oils, of freshly chopped green mangoes or tangy lemons, all evoke memories of pickles made and stored in bottles in dark places. A visit to my home country and back would see packed bags of pickles of various tastes and hues in my luggage. This sort of  pickling can be a chore since there  is a special method to be followed and it’s not too easy. Sterilised jars and powdered spices, gingelly oil to fresh everything…I always felt it was a very mysterious difficult affair and as long as someone made it for me I was happy…..Now this is pickling in India as I know it. Here, the pickled vegetables are nothing like the ones back home. When  I read recently that fermented / pickled vegetables were not only healthy for you but a cinch to make, I started searching. Then Smitten Kitchen posted a pickle recipe and the picture itself made me want to go post haste to the kitchen.

Anyway here it is my pickled vegetables. I snack on this, it can be used as a slaw in sandwiches too. With fried rice it makes a tangy side. I strew it on my omelette and generally keep eating it. It’s that good.

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You will need 5 cups of vegetables of your choice. I used cucumber, carrot, cauliflower, capsicum. Snow peas, daikon radish, zuchini all can be used.

Try and chop vegetables as thin as possible. You can see I did not do that good a job. But it does not affect the taste. A mandolin will be useful here.

Meanwhile heat

1 cup white wine vinegar

4 Tb sugar

2 flat Tb kosher salt

2Tb mustard slightly crushed

Heat gently till sugar dissolves. Add

1 cup cold water

Fill a jar with the vegetables and pour the liquid over it. That’s it! It’s ready to use. This keeps in the fridge for a week.

Carrot Blondies

I can be delusional at times, like thinking carrot in a cake makes the cake healthy. But delusions aside this is a tasty morsel, eggless, like a carrot halwa but baked. It’s very easy to make and keeps a few days too.

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INGREDIENTS

2 cups plain flour

3 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp nutmeg powder

10 cardamom crushed seeds only used

2 cups shredded carrot

1/2 cup raisins (optional)

7Tb sugar

1x 395 g sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup whole milk

115 g butter

23 cm square baking pan

METHOD

Preheat oven to 160C fan forced

Microwave the carrot, condensed milk, whole milk, raisins if using and sugar. Mix and cook for five minutes stirring once or twice. Add the butter and mix in well. Cool to lukewarm.

Mix the flour with spices and baking powder. Add to the wet mix and mix it in gently. Do not over mix.

Pour into a buttered and lined square pan 23 cm and bake in The preheated oven for 40-50 minutes. Test with a cake tester , remove to cool down then cut into squares.

This can also be baked in a 32×26 cm tray (approximately) and bake it for 20 minutes or till done. This will give you thinner squares. I baked mine in a square pan.

Serves 12 at least

Recipe source: Internet

Vegetable medley

On days when you are left with a small assortment of various vegetables, on days when you are looking to cook something easy but tasty and healthy, this recipe will come to the rescue. I usually team this with a spicy hot rasam and my work is done. It’s a very forgiving recipe because you can make it with your choice of vegetables, but a potato is a must as it binds everything together nicely. And the best part is that leftovers packed next morning into a hot grilled sandwich with a sharp cheese solves your lunch dilemma too!

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You will need 3 cups of veggies. I used a mix of

cauliflower

carrot

potatoes

peas

beans

Dice everything.

In a large frying pan heat 2-3 Tb oil add

1 onion

1 tsp urad dal

1 tsp cummin seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp mustard

curry leaves

2-3 green chilli depending on how much a chilli fiend you are

Fry till spices pop and onion turns golden, add the veggies .

Add the following spice powders

2 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp cummin powder

1 tsp Garam masala

2 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp turmeric powder

salt

Sometimes I add 2 tsp kitchen King masala powder too. It’s optional. Depending on your vegetable mix you might need less or more spice. Taste to test. Cover and cook on low heat for 6-7 minutes then open and cook stirring till fried well. Serve warm.

Eggplant curry

Have to admit my favourite vegetable is eggplant. It’s such a versatile vegetable and it can be made in so many ways. This is one of my favourite. Eggplant fried and then cooked with delicious spices, peanuts and coconut .

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INGREDIENTS

250 g eggplant

2 tsp ginger – garlic paste

curry leaves

mustard

marble size tamarind

brown sugar little

salt

oil for frying

Fry and paste

1 Tb coriander seeds

1 tsp cummin seeds

10 red chillies dry

2 Tb sesame seeds

3 garlic

2-3 Tb coconut grated

2 Tb peanuts roasted

3 cloves garlic

Fry everything till light brown. Fry the chillies, coriander and cummin seeds first followed by garlic, sesame seeds and coconut. Last add the roasted peanuts. Don’t let any of it burn. Cool and grind to paste.

METHOD

Slice eggplant into thin long slices and soak in salted. water for 10 minutes. Drain and fry in 2 Tb oil till soft. Keep aside.

Heat 3 Tb oil fry curry leaves, mustard, then the ginger garlic paste. After 2 minutes add the ground paste, fry till the raw smell goes away for about 5 – 8 minutes. Now add the salt, brown sugar and tamarind paste. Fry one minute then add the eggplant add a couple of Tb water and cover and cook on a very low heat for 10 minutes. Stir couple of times.

This recipe is best made in a kadai. More oil more taste!

Serves 2-4

Source: Delicious vegetarian curries by Mrs. Mallika Badrinath

Mexican Tacos

This recipe is for a certain someone who recently celebrated her 21st. It’s a firm favourite at home and although it does need a bit of preparation it’s worth the time spent. A spicy home-made sauce, healthy green salad with capsicum, herbs, cabbage, avocado, cheese all piled onto a crispy taco or burrito, its sure  to please all.

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INGREDIENTS

1 red capsicum

1 tomato

4 garlic cloves

4 chicken thighs boneless left whole

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

3 Tb honey or brown sugar

2 Tb cummin powder

3 dry red chillies

2 chipotle chilli dry or from a jar

1/4 cup water

1-2 tsp salt

Mix them all up and cook in a pressure cooker for 15 minutes under pressure. If cooking in a pan use a heavy pan and cook covered for half an hour on medium heat. Check to see if chicken is cooked. Also keep an eye that it does not dry out. Cooking in a pressure cooker saves all this trouble!

Meanwhile make a salad with

1/2 a cabbage

1/4 bunch coriander leaves

2 pickled chillies or jalapeños

4 Spring onion

1 cucumber

1 green capsicum

2 lemon to juice

2 Tb extra virgin olive oil

salt and paper to taste

Open pressure cooker when safe to do so. Remove the chicken and shred and keep. Purée the rest of ingredients. This makes the sauce. Add the chicken to the sauce.

Heat burritos or tacos, whichever you are using.

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Serve the sauce, salad, avocado, sour cream, grated cheese, guacamole, chillies…the list is endless. Let everyone make their own taco or burrito. Enjoy!

Recipe source: Internet, various sources

Serves 4 generously