Whole Wheat Bow Tie Pasta

BowTie Pasta

I really can’t start yet another post with ” Sorry for being absent and not posting frequently”.The “Sorry” itself will¬†start a “Sorry, Not Sorry” debate in your mind ūüėČ

Really, things have been chaotic in real life. Vipul’s travels for work, my job search, me exploring other things I want to do alongside (E-book, art portfolio and lot other¬†ideas in works), debating whether to buy a house or NOT ( if so, where, how much etc), volunteering at Varun’s school, not to mention pinning ton’s of stuff for Varun’s party which is totally outsourced (the pins are just so I feel I contributed to it other than swiping my card).

Anyways, in amidst this, I found myself with orphaned egg yolks. Yet again. Pudding I salivated!

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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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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!

 

Salmon Nicoise Salad

Salmon Nicoise Salad

Nice was the best place that we visited in France many moons ago.

I loved it more than Paris. The mediterranean coast, beaches, little villages perched on edge of cliffs like eagles nest, the azure blue of the sea, balmy weather and ¬†not to mention the wonderful food. Italian infused French food with a hearty dose of fresh seasonal vegetables. Food really doesn’t get better than this.

For the 3 days that we spent in the southern France coastal town, we ate either on little sidewalk cafe’s or in Farmers market. Socca for breakfast, salads for lunch and pesto pizza or pesto with little clams for dinner. The fresh tasting pesto, olive oil and vegetables had us from the get go.

Salmon Nicoise Salad

This is my attempt to make a Niçoise Salad inspired by the trip ages ago.

A little bit like American Chop salad, Niçoise Salad is made up of tomatoes, olives, hard-boiled eggs, fresh glanced vegetables ( like beans and Asparagus) , new potatoes and tuna. The dressing is simple french vinaigrette with olive oil, garlic and mustard. Instead of using tuna and anchovies as is traditional, I kept the salad vegetarian ( so my vegetarian mom could join in as well) and served it with tinfoil baked Salmon. Hands down the best way to cook Salmon; especially for a crowd.

Salmon Nicoise Salad

The lemony Salmon paired well with the tangy Salad’s vinaigrette.

The salad though easy to prepare requires multiple steps for various ingredients, but is a stunner once done. Don’t be daunted as it is easy to get hang of it.Blanching the vegetables and boiling the eggs ¬†while the Salmon and potatoes bake make it faster to cook. Served family style on a platter, this is a beautiful salad that everyone can enjoy.

Try it with Spring beans, Asparagus, Fava beans this Spring to make the most of the primavera! 

The colors of the salad and the taste are enough to put you into Spring mood ūüôā

Salmon Nicoise Salad

 Salmon Niçoise Salad Recipe

Serves 4

For the Salmon 

  • 1 lb Salmon Fillet, with skin on.
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic finely diced
  • 8 – 10 thin lemon slices
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro or parsley (optional)

For the Vinaigrette

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon french stone ground mustard
  • 1/2 tablespoon sherry vinaigrette
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

For the Salad 

  • 1 Quart pot of water
  • 1 bunch of Asparagus
  • 1/2 bunch of French beans ( about 1/2 – 3/4 lb)
  • 4 small red potatoes, halved (or quartered) and tossed in 1 teaspoon olive oil and salt and pepper ( to taste).
  • 2 heads romaine lettuce, roughly chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup olives
  • 4 eggs hard-boiled, peeled and halved.
  • 8- 10 baby tomatoes sliced in half

1. Wash the Salmon under cold water and pat dry. Rub olive oil on both sides of the fillet. Sprinkle garlic, salt and pepper on both sides and lightly rub them into the Fish filet.

2. Take a large enough aluminum foil (twice the size of the fish to create a pocket). Lay 4 – 5 lemon slices on the foil.

Layer the fish fillet on the lemon slices. Layer remaining lemon slices on top. Sprinkle cilantro (or parsley) on the lemon slices.

Set aside for 15 minutes to marinate.

3. Set the pot of water to boil. Pre-heat the oven to 400 F.

4. Make the vinaigrette by whisking all the ingredients listed together in a bowl till well mixed. Set aside.

5. When the oven is pre-heated, cover the salmon and potatoes loosely with foil.  Crimp the edges to form a pocket.  Bake the entire foil pocket for 30 Р35 minutes till the fish is cooked ( flakes easily when pierced with a fork).

6. In the meantime, set the pot of water to boil.

When the water boils, blanch french beans and then asparagus for a couple of minutes each till bright green and tender.

Remove each with tongs in a separate bowl and wash them with cold water to prevent further cooking of the vegetables.

 To serve

  1. On a large platter, first layer the romaine lettuce.
  2. Then arrange the eggs, tomatoes, green beans, asparagus, olives and potatoes. Arrange Salmon on the platter along with lemon slices.
  3. Drizzle one tablespoon vinaigrette on the vegetables. Don’t toss. Serve remaining vinaigrette on the side in a bowl.
  4. Pass it along family style where everyone serves themselves with bit of veggies and the Salmon.

Enjoy the crisp vegetables , warm potatoes and flaky warm Salmon!