Pinterest Told Me To Make: Ratatouille

Ratatouille

Before Mom and Dad left for India, I wanted to make something special for them. They are unlikely to visit for another year or so; this was my way to end our time together on a high note. With summer produce on a high in markets, ratatouille it was.

I had pinned this beautifully presented ratatouille dish for some time now and it was time to give it a try. The flavors are traditional and the presentation contemporary. It’s not the mush like stew that it originally was intended.

Ratatouille

The veggies are sliced thin, pan-fried to take out excess moisture and then baked over a ripe fresh tomatoes sauce.

If anything is a summer on a plate then this is it. Colorful, vegetarian and seasonal to boot.

Ratatouille

I made mini ratatouilles as individual servings and then paired it with big pearly Israeli couscous for a filling meal. It’s a great alternative to good old salad and a great way to eat that 2 cups of veggies per meal.

My kid didn’t touch it but we all loved it. Give it a try this summer while veggies are at their peak!

Ratatouille

Ratatouille Recipe

For the Sliced Veggies

  • 2 Zucchini thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow squash thinly sliced
  • 1/2 eggplant thinly sliced
  • 2 roma tomatoes thinly sliced

For the Sauce

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil, divided + 1 teaspoon to grease the baking dish
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup white onion finely diced
  • 2 roma tomatoes finely diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper finely diced
  • Handful of parsley, finely chopped + more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Crumbled goat cheese to garnish
  1. Heat a table-spoon of olive oil in a skillet. Sear the zucchini, squash and eggplant on each side lightly till light golden brown. Set aside.

  2. In the same pan add another table-spoon of oil. Saute the garlic and onion in the oil for 2 – 3 minutes till onions are translucent over medium heat.

  3. Then add red bell pepper. Saute for another 2 – 3 minutes till softened. Add tomatoes, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook for another 4- 5 minutes till cooked into a thick sauce.

  4. Pre-heat the oven to 400 F.

  5. Grease a baking dish with olive oil. Spoon sauce at the bottom. Layer the vegetables on the sauce in rows or a spiral alternating zucchini, squash and eggplant. Bake in top third of the oven for 10 minutes till the vegetables are seared a bit on the top.

Garnish with goat cheese and parsley. Serve warm with couscous, quinoa or pasta.

 

Bharli Vangi – My love – hate relationship with Masala Stuffed Eggplants

Masala Stuffed Eggplants

I HATE Eggplants.

Growing up I have never touched them. I used to hate when mom made anything with eggplants. Vangi-batata tyachi bhaji ( eggplant and potatoes curry), bharli vangi (masala stuffed baby eggplants) , vangyache kaap (skillet fried crispy eggplants) , bharit (spiced roasted eggplants mash).

I used to even hate the name vangi.

Masala Stuffed Eggplants

I was subject to them often. As a pure vegetarian extended family, there were no meat products around. Eggplants were as “meaty” as my family went. They relished it. Just like a chicken curry or tikka on any party menu; eggplants featured on menu whenever they were in season.

Fast forward to undergrad days, my room-mates who didn’t mind eating eggplants/ possibly even loved them didn’t buy them because ” Rutu wouldn’t eat them”.

Masala Stuffed Eggplants

Till one weekend in Seattle, Poonam made this tangy curry called Khatte Baingan. With fried eggplant sliced simmering in a tamarind- fennel curry, I was a convert. And so was one other friend who used to hate eggplants as much as I did.

Masala Stuffed Eggplants

With that experience, I tried eggplants on the next trip to India. And since then I love my mom’s masala stuffed eggplants.

I don’t beg her to make them but I can have a hearty helping whenever she makes them.

I don’t have to ask her to make them often, my dad loves them so they feature quiet regularly on dinner menu at my mom’s house.On one of his Indian stores shopping trip, dad bought home eggplants and rest is a blog entry below.

Amused by my blogging efforts, my mom even measured and wrote up the recipe for me.

Here is the recipe for my ma’s famous masala stuffed eggplants. The ingredient list seems long but the recipe is simple and results in an aromatic gravy that you can sop up with naan or with some peas pulav. The purple eggplants gleam like gems in the curry and are as visually appealing as they are tasty.

The curry tastes great the next day. Luckily this is easy to make in a larger quantity and have later.

Masala Stuffed Eggplants

Bharli Vangi Recipe

  • 1 Medium yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon peanuts coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon corriander leaves
  • 4 tablespoons corriander powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons red chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garam masala powder
  • 4 tablespoons dessicated coconut
  • 1/8 tablespoon asafoetida
  • 1/2 tablespoon palm sugar or jaggery
  • Salt to taste
  • 8 – 10 small eggplants
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon oil
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafeotida
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 – 1 cup water
  1. Roast the onion on medium flame till it begins to char on the outside.

  2. Coarsely chop the onion and then grind the onion along with all the apices listed above including the salt. This is the masala that we will stuff in the eggplants.

  3. Make two criss- cross slits in the eggplant in the middle, almost all the way to the stem. Take care to not slice it completely. We need to create these “pockets” in eggplant to stuff the masala in.

  4. Spoon the masala in the eggplants pockets generously. Set aside. You will probably have some extra masala.

  5. In the meantime, heat oil in a pan on medium heat. Once heated, add curry leaves , asafoetida, mustard seeds to the oil. Once they splutter add turmeric.

  6. Add the eggplants and toss them gently so they are coated in oil.Add the remaining masala to the pan. Add water.

  7. Cover the pan with a lid and let the eggplants cook through on medium-low heat for 10  -15 minutes till they are softened; tossing midway through to ensure even cooking.

Serve warm with roti, bhakri or pulav.

 

Murgh Makhani or Restaurant Style Butter Chicken

Murgh Makhani Butter Chicken

We had friends visiting one Friday evening. They were in SF only for the evening and we had them over for dinner.

We ordered take out food as I was not up for cooking for so many folks. But I baked us a cake.The cake as luck would have it didn’t turn out well. It was nice and soft out of the oven but then fell flat and was dense. It was weird. Soft and dense.

To salvage it, I decided to serve it with some whipped cream. As in store bough whipped cream. You know,cool whip makes everything seem better.

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Ambat Tikhat Kolambi – Hot and Sour Shrimp Curry

Hot and Sour Shrimp curry

My mom is a pure vegetarian. But she knew we loved fish and shrimp and she used to cook 3- 4 “non vegetarian” dishes for us. Shrimp pulav, fried pomfret, stuffed surmai and fish curry.

She had learnt them from her best friend, right down to the salt and seasonings as she couldn’t taste test it.

Hot and Sour Shrimp curry

Every Sunday morning (or at least every alternate Sunday morning), Mom’s best friend would call. The kolin or the fish monger would come to their house. My mom would have told her to buy fish or shrimp for us. The call was to arrange pickup. Mom used to make me go downstairs to pick up the parcel. Her friend’s son used to come half way and sheepishly hand me the carefully wrapped parcel. I used to sneak it in averting the gaze of my “pure vegetarian” neighbors. 

It was not as scandalous as when my grand mom used to visit and we literally used to scrub down the kitchen to remove any traces of non-vegetarian food smell in our house from cups, spoons, plates etc.

Hot and Sour Shrimp curry

It’s thanks to this and my mom’s best friends recipes that I had some insight into some yummy seafood. Green chillies, freshly ground coconut, kokum. Fresh seafood.

Vipul is in Japan this week for work.While I know he will love food there, before leaving, he wanted to have his fill of Indian food. I made him mom style hot and sour shrimp curry.

If you have ever been to Gajalee, you will know the kind of curry that I am talking about. The heat of the curry is mind-blowing. And the sourness of tamarind and kokum adds a different dimension. This is coastal Maharashtrian cuisine at its best! Coconutty, spicy and with fresh seafood!

I made this for Vipul before he went to Japan for a 10 day work trip. To remind him what good Indian food he will miss while he is stuffing his face with sushi/sashimi/soba/udon/ramen.

Hot and Sour Shrimp curry

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Vegetarian Thai Green Papaya Salad

Vegetarian Thai Green Papaya Salad

When we lived in Redmond, Thai was our staple food. SilverSpoon and Chantanee were our favorite restaurants there.
Most of the sauces and dressings in Thai food have fish sauce and dried shrimp. But these two places made a vegetarian version with soy sauce.My parents loved Thai food there as well. Even my aunt who is a staunch Indian food lover and hasn’t taken to any other cuisines, liked Thai food at SilverSpoon when we took her out there while she was visiting.

Vegetarian Thai Green Papaya Salad

Vegetarian Thai Green Papaya Salad

This is our attempt to ward off the Sunday evening blues and make a tasty healthy salad that is vegetarian to boot.

Spicy. Salty. Sour. Slightly Sweet.

Crunchy. Colorful.

Thai Green Papaya Salad is the Salad to master all Salad’s. When the going gets tough and you crave something that’s not boring or diet food like then this is the salad to go to.

Fortunately Green Papaya is easy to come by in an Asian market. We live near Chinatown so Dad could get one easily. It probably is a GMO version from Hawaii. But I doubt I will find a green non-GMO papaya in US.

Vegetarian Thai Green Papaya Salad

If you don’t find a green papaya, green apple, turnips, chayote squash or even cucumber are excellent substitutes.

The sweet, sour and spicy dressing can be customized per taste. Supposedly, leftovers taste even better but we never have had any to confirm!

I served the salad with lemon garlic shrimp. It was a great dinner salad that we could have  over and over again. Even Dad was big fan!

Give it a try this week. It’s bound to make your spring even more colorful!

Vegetarian Thai Green Papaya Salad

Vegetarian Thai Green Papaya Salad Recipe

For the Salad 

  • 3 cups grated green papaya ( peeled and de-seeded)
  • 1/2 cup blanched green beans cut into 1 inch segments
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 – 1 cup mung bean sprouts
  • 8 – 10 cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1/4 cup chopped spring onion greens

For the Dressing

  • 1/3 – 1/2  cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup coarsely ground dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoon finely grated jaggery or palm sugar
  • 1 – 2 tablespoon sriracha sauce 
  • 1 – 2 thai green chili minced
  • 2 garlic cloves finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon spring onion whites finely minced
  • Salt to taste

1. Mix all the ingredients of the dressing in a bowl and set aside.

Start with smaller amounts of lemon juice, thai chilli, sriracha sauce and jaggery/palm sugar. Taste and adjust for sweet/spicy/sour notes.

2. In a large bowl, add the grate green papayas and green beans. Lightly pound them with a pestle ( or a rolling-pin or back of a heavy spoon) till they are bruised but not broken into a pulp. This allows the papayas and beans to “soak” the dressing as without it the salad is pretty bland.

3. Then add the mung bean sprouts, carrots, tomatoes and spring onions.

4. Add the dressing and toss it till well mixed. Taste and adjust seasonings again. You may need to add more lemon juice, sriracha sauce , jaggery/palm sugar and/or salt.

Let sit for a few minutes for the flavors to meld.

Serve with garlicky shrimp or chicken. Nom! Nom!