Sambar

Sambar is a delicious richly flavored lentil and vegetable stew, native to South India. Many versions of sambar exist, and each one is just as delicious as the other one. The key for a flavorful sambar is a good sambar masala. Like there exists many versions of garam masala powder, similarly every South Indian household has their own version of the sambar masala. I have always only used the ready made MDH Sambar masala powder that is easily available in stores. But I really loved Padma’s Sambar and since then I have only been using her sambar masala to favor mine. I was so glad to discover the right sambar masala for me.

Idli served along with Sambar

Warm Sambar is a delicious accompaniment to South Indian classics like idli, wada, dosa, or just along with plain simple rice, etc. Today I have made Okra Sambar because I had only okra at hand, but the mixed vegetable sambar is the conventional and most delicious. The addition of a variety of vegetables add their own flavor to the spicy and aromatic sambar. Tamarind is the traditional souring ingredient used, but if unavailable you can use lemon juice.

Sambar – Spicy Lentil and Mixed Vegetables Stew
Adapted from here

Ingredients:

Toor dal – 1 cup
Tomato – 1, large, chopped
Green chillies – 4, chopped
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Canola oil – 3 1/2 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 3/4 tsp
Cumin seeds – 3/4 tsp
Dry red chillies – 4, each broken into half
Curry leaves – 3 sprigs
Mixed Vegetables – 2 cups (chopped/cubed: brinjal, potato, taro root, bottle guard, radish, zucchini, okra, drumsticks, french beans, carrot, pumpkin, beetroot, etc; peeled & whole pearl onions/shallots; cauliflower or brocolli florets) (I used only okra – 340 gms) (also I did not have shallots so I used 1 large sliced onion instead)
Thick Tamarind pulp – 5 tbsp
Jaggery/gud – 1 tbsp, grated
Cilantro – 2 tbsp, finely chopped
Salt – to taste
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Sambar masala:
2 tsps of bengal gram/chana dal
2 tsps of black gram/urad dal
2 tsps of cumin seeds/zeera
3 tsps of coriander seeds/dhaniya
½ tsp black peppercorns/kali mirch
½ tsp of fenugreek seeds/methi
4 dry red chillies/sukhi lal mirch
¾ cup dry desiccated coconut/khopra

Delicious Warm Sambar

Method:

1. In a non stick frying pan dry roast all the spices separately under the heading sambar masala until they are just a few shades darker. Transfer all the roasted spices to a spice grinder and add a little water and grind to a smooth paste. Keep aside. This is the sambar masala.
2. Wash toor dal in several changes of water. Soak it overnight or for 2-3 hours in surplus fresh cool water. Drain, and wash in several changes of water. Add the washed and soaked toor dal to a pressure cooker. Add 1/2 tbsp oil, chopped tomato, green chillies, turmeric powder and 3 cups of water. Close the lid and pressure cook until the dal is mushy. Using a whisk or a dal ghotni or an immersion blender, blend the dal into a paste. Keep aside.
3. In a large saucepan at medium high heat, add the remaining oil. As soon as it is warm, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When they begin to crackle add the curry leaves and dry red chillies. (If you do not have pearl onions or shallots in hand, add the sliced onions and sauté them until they are pink). Immediately add the prepared mixed vegetables and mix well. Add salt and red chilli powder. Lower the heat to medium and pour in two cups of water. Cover with a lid and let cook until the vegetables are tender crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the tamarind paste and grated jaggery. Now add the toor dal paste prepared earlier along with chopped cilantro and sambar masala. Mix well. Add water to give it a thin consistency. Half cover with a lid and allow it simmer for around 15 minutes more until the vegetables are soft and a good aroma fills your kitchen. Stir frequently and well, as the toor dal tend to sink to the bottom and stick. Serve warm along with plain rice, or dosa, or idli, or wada.

Luv,
Mona

Aloo Baingan

A simple vegetable curry with use of the most humble vegetables to brighten your day. One of my most favorite vegetable curries that comforts me.

Asian Eggplants, PEI Potatoes and Ontario grown Tomato

The soft and velvety texture of cooked and potatoes eggplants along with the slight sourness from the tomatoes makes this curry very juicy and delicious. Enjoy it along with pulao, naan or paratha.

Aloo Baingan – Potatoes and Eggplants in a tomato gravy

Ingredients:

Asian Eggplant – 3, washed, pat dried, and cut into semi-circles (you can use any variety of eggplant)
Potatoes – 3, medium sized, washed, pat dried, peeled and quartered
Tomato – 2, medium, roughly chopped
Green chillies – 4, finely chopped
Canola oil
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Salt – to taste
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Roasted Coriander seed powder – 1/2 tsp
Cilantro – for garnish, finely chopped

Aloo Baingan – Potatoes and Eggplants in a tomato gravy

Method:

1. In a kadai, pour oil to deep fry the chopped eggplant and potatoes. Once the oil is very hot, deep fry the cut potatoes and eggplant until they attain a slight brown color. Using a slotted spoon remove them into a wire mesh strainer to let the excess oil to drain away.
2. In a pan, pour about 1 tbsp oil and as soon as it warms up, add the cumin seeds and let them splutter. Add the green chillies, ginger garlic paste and fry for a minute. Add the chopped tomatoes, red chilli powder, roasted coriander seed powder, salt and turmeric powder. Mix well. Add the deep fried potatoes and eggplant and give a gentle mix. Add a little bit of water and cover with a lid for 3-5 minutes. Check to see if the potatoes are done. Garnish with chopped cilantro, remove from heat and serve.

Note: 1. You can also add boiled/frozen peas to the curry in the end.
2. You can even add a little bit of kasuri methi or fresh chopped methi in the end for a different flavor.
3. You can skip the deep frying of the potatoes and eggplant and directly add the chopped vegetables into the gravy. You will have to increase the cooking time as well as add a little bit of water to aid in the cooking process. Deep frying the vegetables makes them soft and adds a good flavor.

Luv,
Mona

Baingan ka Salan

The plainness of this simple brinjal curry is what I love a lot. Vibrant with a purple hue, low in fat and spongy in texture, brinjals tend to absorb all the flavors they are cooked in. This curry, with a slightly subtle sweetness due to the sautéed onions, used to be a regular accompaniment to Parathas for breakfast during my childhood.

Indian baby brinjals

Yesterday we experienced the first snow of the season here. A thin sheet of light flurries covered the earth and the air had the typical wintry crispness to it. My palate was craving something warm and filling. This baingan ka salan along with a few warm Parathas, and a juicy red pear was a satisfying breakfast this morning.

quartered brinjals

Baingan ka Salan – Eggplant Curry

Ingredients:

Small Indian brinjals – 500 gms (or) 2 Japanese eggplants
Canola oil – 1 tbsp
Onion – 1, large, peeled, halved and finely sliced
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Salt – to taste
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp

simple yet satisfying breakfast~baingan ka salan,
along with warm parathas
and a juicy red pear

Method:

1. Wash the brinjals and drain in a colander. Cut and discard the top stalk of the brinjals. Cut the brinjals into quarters and soak them in salted fresh cool water to avoid discoloration and remove its mild bitterness.

quartered brinjals soaked in salted water

2. In a sauté pan, pour oil and as soon as it warms up add the sliced onions. Stir fry for a few minutes until translucent and soft. Add red chilli powder, salt and turmeric.
3. Drain the soaking brinjals and add to sauté pan. Pour in 2 cups water, mix well and cover with a lid. Let cook stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes until soft. Serve warm along with Parathas.

Luv,
Mona

Taleh Baingan

During my childhood, this spongy vegetable ranked among the toppers in my list of disliked vegetables . The only way I would eat them was when these eggplant discs were deep fried till crisp on the edges with a soft flesh in the center, and lightly seasoned with red chilli powder and salt while still warm. But today, eggplants seem to have become one of my favorite vegetables over time and I somehow end up getting a few eggplants home most usually. There are so many delicious preparations that can be made out of this  simple vegetable, for ideas I recommend going through this cookbook – Eggplant – More than 75 delicious recipes, it will make you fall in love with eggplants.

Indian eggplants ~ cut into chips

I am sure even you all will enjoy these eggplant chips, my childhood favorite, as an accompaniment to your meals.

Taleh Baingan – Deep fried Eggplant discs

Ingredients:

Baingan/Aubergine/Eggplants – 4 (I used baby eggplants as shown in the picture, you can even use Japanese eggplants)
Red chili powder – 3/4 tsp or to taste
Salt – to taste

Taleh Baingan – Deep fried Eggplant discs

Method:

1. Cut the eggplant into half inch thick slices and soak them in surplus salted water in a mixing bowl.
2. Heat oil to deep fry in a kadai or wok at medium heat and as soon as it is warm enough. Drain the eggplant discs and gently slide them in the hot oil, and deep fry in batches on both sides until the color is changed to a golden brown color and the outer edges are wrinkled.
3. Remove using a slotted spoon into a wire mesh strainer for the excess oil to drain away. Immediately sprinkle the fried discs while warm with the red chilli powder and salt on both sides. Serve immediately and enjoy while still warm.

Luv,
Mona

Dinner on Second Roza

Zafraani Malai Murgh, Baingan ka Bharta, Tamatar Tuvar dal and Khushka was the dinner today after our second roza الحمد لله. The Iftaar was light~ Khajoor, Aloo Samosa with ketchup and fresh Plums.

Zafraani Malai Murgh – Chicken in Creamy Saffron sauce

Ingredients:

Olive oil – 2 tbsp
Ginger garlic paste – 2 tbsp
Long green chillies – 4, each cut into two
Fried crisp onions – 1/2 cup (store bought)
Chicken/Murgh, with bone – 1150 gms, cut into pieces
Salt – 2 tsp
Yogurt/Dahi – 1/2 cup, lightly whipped
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
Half and Half cream – 1/3 cup (you can also use light cream instead)
Cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
Saffron threads – one pinch
Slivered almonds – 1 tbsp

Zafraani Malai Murgh

Method:

1. Wash the chicken and pat dry. Keep aside.
2. In a saucepan at medium high heat, pour in oil and as soon as it warms up, add the ginger-garlic paste and fry for a few seconds. Add the green chillies and fried onions. Mix well. Add the chicken pieces and salt and fry until opaque, around 5-8 minutes. Pour in yogurt, red chilli powder and turmeric. Stir gently to mix and close the lid. Let cook for 5 minutes. Pour in half and half and gently mix well. Cover the lid and let cook for 8-10 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Let cook uncovered for a further 10 minutes. Serve immediately along with Parathas or Naan or Khushka.

Baingan ka bhartha – Roasted Eggplants in tomato onion sauce ~ I

Brinjal – 4
Olive oil – 2 tbsp
Onion – 1, large, finely chopped
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1 1/2 tsp
Long green chillies – 4, chopped
Tomato – 2, finely chopped
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Salt – 2 tsp
Garam masala powder – 1 tsp
Cilantro+Mint leaves – 1 tbsp, finely chopped

Fresh ingredients for Baingan ka Bhartha

Baingan ka Bhartha

Method:

1. Wash the brinjal and pat dry. Take a rimmed baking sheet and place a large sheet of aluminuim foil on it. Place the brinjal on the foil and place the baking sheet under the broiler-high setting for 15 minutes. Turn the brinjal after 8 minutes. Once the brinjal are evenly black in color, remove from the oven and let cool. Once cool, peel and discard the skin and finely chop the flesh of the brinjal. Keep aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, add oil and as soon as it warms up, add the onion and fry just until soft. Do not let it brown. Add ginger garlic paste, green chillies and cumin seeds and fry them along for furthur 2-3 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, coriander seed powder, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and salt. Mix well. Cover the lid and let cook for 5 minutes.
3. Add the chopped brinjal flesh and mix well. Cover the lid and let cook for 5 more minutes. Add garam masala and fresh chopped herbs and let cook uncovered for a few minutes. Serve.

Luv,
Mona