Feb 27, 2010

Indo- Turkish Cuisine-- with eggplants!

Now, I have often often and more than often mentioned my terrific love foe eggplants. And that has its roots right in this place I grew up and still call home. My grandmom makes some of the best mashed eggplant dishes. And as kids I and my sister used to not like them a lot. However, as we left home at 18 we both, somehow,  started adoring these very dishes and even made trips back home just for these. Talk about juvenile insanity :) Of course now my love manifests in  stronger ways as I try to come up with new recipes for eggplant.

But nowhere does it taste as good as it does right here. At home in winter. The whole idea involved roasting a whole eggplant over open charcoal oven. The smoked smell of charcoal infusing into the eggplant as it slowly roasted for about 30 minutes. And the house filled up with the smoky smell as I used to curl out of bed on those foggy days from a lifetime ago.

Yesterday, I got the same smell. The very know and dear smoked smell. For a long time now, the roasting used to be done in regular ovens. But yesterday it was that very smell. I ran downstairs to see our age old dear cook roasting eggplant over open charcoal grill. The thrill was...was just. I  took this oppertunity to make a dish which combined the elements of my beloved eggplant dish and a turkish recipe on which I have honed my mashing skills many a day. Yogurt- garlic- shallot mashed eggplant...

So here is that lovely eggplant mashed and made indo-turkish. Did I just invent a cuisine? :)

Ingredients:

1 big eggplant
2-3 shallots finely chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic minced
1 Jalapeno finely chopped. Optional for heat

1/2 cup of good quality yogurt
2 tsp of cumin powder
2 tsp of olive oil

A handful of coriander or Parsley for garnish

Simply mash and mix

Okay you can grill the eggplant on a regular grill or for the lovlier flavor even on a charcoal grill. But for most of us we can use the regular oven. Preheat oven to 500F for 10 min. Then roast your eggplant on high for 15 minutes and then broil for 15 minutes on high. When done, immedietly soak it in a tub of cold water. This helps for easy removal of the skin.  Let it do so for 5 minutes. Peel of the skin. I like to leave in bits for flavor. mix it with all the ingredient and mash and mix till it is consistent.
Garnish with Cilantro/ parsley and serve with warm Pita. 

The garlic and yoghurt part from Turkish dish and the rest from my grandmom. At home we used to have it at night with warm Indian bread. It was gorgeous.



Happy eating and healthy living!

Feb 22, 2010

Jazz up your signature-- with a pretty stir-fry :)


I have a problem. My tummy is not being very co-operative in terms of trying out a varaity of food. Can there be a bigger disaster on a trip to food land? I guess the possibilities are endless :) So I am now a days on very mild food and that means I am exercising my own wishes. As I am the self proclaimed queen of low calorie cooked food :) :)

What comes to mind is stir fry. I love stir fry. For not only is it easy peasy to make, please with and easy on the tummy, it is one great way to jazz up any main course dish. This, I found out only recently. How? That is an interesting story.

So my father pretends to be a big time foodie. He eats very less. But he likes to think of himself as one big eater. And keeps complaining that he never has enough varaity. Okay. So I make my signature dishes. Some of which does not go well with him. I have a feeling, he is not into trying out a varaity in the first place. So I came up with this novel Idea. I marinate fih, chicken etc in a marinade. Any standard ( ginger-garlic-cumun for example) and bake it. So no varaity there. But then I stir fry veggies in a varaity of  spice combinations and just throw it over the meat. And boy he loves it. He even thinks all are different dishes!!

So here is a stir fry I really liked. And I used an inredient I love. Poppy seeds. What great flavorcan you get out of em'.  And you know...you have a finicky eater on hand with a big ego-- here's the magic  wand :) Throw it over your oft repeated signature dish...and you have a new dish every single day!

Ingredients

1 big onion- coarsely sliced
1 big bell pepper- coarsely chopped
3 hard boiled eggs- Coarsely chopped

1/2 tsp of ginger finely chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic. Minced
1 tsp of smoked paprika
1 tsp of poppy seeds. If you haven't tried this. This is your chance to fall in love with it! It is like sesame, but little different

1 tsp of olive oil
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Lemon wedges and a cup of parsley for garnish

Here is what you do

In a shallow skillet, heat oil and add the veggies. Stir fry lightly for about 2 min.  Add the spices (garlic, ginger, poppy seeds and paprika). Mix in everything. Season with salt and black pepper. Take it off the stove. Place your eggs on top. Give everything a shimmy shake. Spread it around your main dish. Garnish with parsley and lemon wedges.

What a pretty dish we have!




Happy eating and healthy living!

Feb 19, 2010

A dish that travelled a million miles in a hundred years


I have often mentioned my undying love for fish. And that continues to be my focus as I travel. My sole wish for this trip was to get in as much fish (Fish in India is often fresh from the waters) and veggies as I can possibely can. Both of these are so much cheaper and fresher and...best part...so much varaity. And my mom is leaving no stone unturned to fulfil that wish :)

So yesterday I was hovering around the kitchen..Okay digression. I cannot keep away from the kitchen. The smells just drags me there. Which is very nice, cos now I can tell my crtics that I don't cook out of necessity or just frivolously. I cook..because I enjoy it so so so very much. Yesterday at an eveing out, a new aquantaince told me,' you would not like it if you had to do it 24/7'. I told him.' why! that is what I would love, especially if I had a food boutique of my own'. Now, fellow foodies, tell me...could I have said so, had I not been loitering in the kitchen...when I could totally not be there at all? :) Okay..back to the food story.

So yes, I was hovering in the kitchen and our age old fantastic cook was making this gorgeous looking dish. Fish dish. And I asked her for the recipe and she tells me that my grandmother had taught her this recipe. Okay, I ask my grandmother, where she got the idea. My very dear grandmom tells me, she got it from a friend of hers and that it was the friend's signature dish. Okay, I happen to know this friend. Exceptional cook. She tells me that the recipe was from her cousin. Notice here, that we are talking of a age average 75. I was now super intrigued. I asked for the cousin's contact details so that I can know-- purely for the sake of curiosity-- who thought of this incredible recipe. I called this cousin up. She was startled at my sudden and abrupt behaviour, but was gracious enough to let me know it was her mothers. I was going to ask if she had the mother's contact, and anticipating that she said, that her mother was dead for the last 30 years.

Good for me that I make my own recipes..and that someone looking for the brain behind the wonder would have to travel only to the email box. But to think my recipes could make such such such a long and powerful journey. And to think it all started from the smell in the best place on earth...kitchen. Its perrty amazing. Ain't it?

So here is the result of that journey..and hope it continues miles , not just in this little part of India...but across the world!

Ingredients:

4 fish steaks. Best to use salmon, haddock or Tuna.

2 medium tomatoes. Diced
1 big onion. Finely chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 inch of fresh ginger. Finely chopped

2 handful of raisins.
1/4 th cup of yogurt.
2 tbsf oil. Best is good quality olive oil. But you can use any you have on hand

Salt and pepper for seasoning
Lemon wedges and tomatoe slices for garnish

Here is what you do!

Bake. Mix all ingredients together and place in a shallow baking tray. Preheat oven to 400F. Bake for 20 minutes. Add time if your fish steaks are bigger or thicker.

Garnish and have warm with a glass of wine.

Here is that dish which made a million miles to your table :)



Happy eating and healthy living!

Feb 16, 2010

In India-- smells and flavors

Long time no see...I wish it was as simple as this one. And there is a reason that I was off from almoost a couple of weeks. And that is because I am  in....drumrolls please...INDIA! the place of smells and food. And all that did not come from free. It involved a 22 hour flight followed by meeting and drinking with old freins till the wee hours of the morning, looking ravenously at street food and not having it. All kind of sacrifices. But I am back and ready to perform. Now that the Visa thing is out of the way :)

But before I do so, let me give you a quick review of what I had over the time I was missing from blogdom.

1. Indian Chinese-- My to go food anytime I ate out. Chilli chicken, fried rice is about the only thing I ordered. And I am happy to say, the ones I gave you a recipe for, is almost as good. Almost :)

2. Tea : In so many forms and colors and smells. But it is a tad bit sad, the Indian tea drinkers are turning so western :( where has all the flowers gone??

3. Homemade food by mom. Tons of fish, green fresh fragrant veggies and fruits. I can't tell you how happy I am to visit grocery stores here. The smell is so different :) And all that for so cheap! I got a weeks veggie, for less than a dollar. I love it here. :)

more later...this time with pictures and recipes

Happy eating and healthy living


Feb 4, 2010

Stir-fry that perks up your bad days :)


I am honestly not looking forward to today. Hopefully by the end of today, I will have finished a horrible chunk of dirty lab work. But if that happens, I will be coated in coral dust (my newly washed hair gone to dogs and my lovely outfit ready for the laundry). This can't be happening to me and I am so not reday for it :( :(
As I write this post, it is honestly going to be the best part of the day..at least till 3-4 PM. And on such a very tiring morning as this, it is best to think of..right..good and nice comforting food :) See, I am already smiling. And no points for guessing, but I do have in mind a dish, which I made only a couple of weeks ago, after returning from an equally tiring day at the lab. But it was the end of the day. But on the flip side, it was in cambridge cold. So more or less we are on the same page. A beautiful morning in California with a dust covered day awaiting me against a tiring day at the lab followed by walking in intense cold in Boston. And what made that day end nice, was a simple dish I concocted off my weariness. I am sure just writing about it today, would take the sting off this rather sunny nice morning :)

So here is to a dish that makes a bad day..somewhat nice :)

Ingredients

2 Potatoes- sliced up. You can also use yams.
A big bunch of green beans all chopped up
1 big tomato- coarsely chopped. 
1 Jalapeno- coarsely chopped. Optional
2 cloves of garlic- minced

1 tbsf cumin powder
1 tbsf hot paprika
1 tbsf brown mustard


2 tbsf Olive oil. You can use regular oil too
Salt and black pepper to season
Lemon wedges for garnish

Here is what you do-- stir fry :)

In a big skillet that is :) However, first bake your sliced potatoes/ yams at 420F in the oven for 15 mins 
(don't forget to pre-heat your oven for a good 10 mins).  Okay, now take your non-stick skillet.  Heat oil and add baked potatoes, tomato and green beans. Stir-fry for 2-3 mins. Add the minced garlic, jalapeno, hot paprika, cumin and mustard and stir fry for another 2 mins. Reduce heat to lowest and cook for another 5 mins, with occasional stirring to prevent sticking to the bottom. You may add bits and bobs of water to prevent sticking. I do that. Once done season with the salt, pepper. Give everything a good shimmy shake and serve hot. Garnish with lemon or parsley or coriander. It is your bad day. So go crazy :)

Nothing like freshness of veggies in a flavorful stir-fry to perk up rotten days




Happy eating and healthy living!