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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Dahi Vada – An Indian Street Food Affair

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[ I wrote this post last week before the baby’s arrival; am simply posting it  today. We are at home, resting, nursing and catching up on sleep. Will resume blogging soon!]

Pushpa: Le Dahi Vade kha le.

Urmila: Nahi mann nahi kar raha.
Pushpa: Arre Dahi Vade khane ka mann nahi kar raha. Agar kisi ladki ka Dahi Vade khane ka mann nahi karta to do cheeze ho sakti hai,

  • ya to woh dheere dheere ladki se ladka ban rahi hai…
  • ya to usse PREM ho gaya hai

Ek din mujhe bhi Dahi Vade khaane ka mann nahi kiya, teen din baad pata chala ki mujhe Bunty se Prem ho gaya hai 🙂 (and bluntly blushing)
Bol ri! Kya naam hai unka?

Urmila:(sharmate hue) Lucky naam hai…

[Don’t worry if you don’t understand the dialog exchanged in Hindi above. The humor will be lost in translation.It doesn’t really impact the recipe or why you should make it. You should make this recipe to get a taste of India, regardless of movie scene that recommends it.]

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This is a classic scene ( copied from being desh blog) from a very popular oldie- goldie Hindi movie “GolMaal”. Its hilarious in its reasoning.

Dahi vada’s have been on my mind lately. At least since mom is here. And they always remind me of GolMaal.

There is a reason why these are not on the menu of any and every Indian restaurant that you have visited. Unlike Saag Paneer, Chole or Alu- Gobi, dahi vada’s are tricky, need a lot of patience and muscular strength.

The lightest,fluffiest melt in your mouth vadas are made solely by whipping the batter with your hands. Whip and whip till you feel that your arms are going to fall off. And then some.

Then this fluffy batter is deep-fried in hot oil.

Once golden brown, they are dunked in a buttermilk bath to soften the core and then immersed in cool tangy yogurt sauce. It is served with a variety of spices – cumin powder, red chilli powder and a tangy tamarind chutney.

But once made and chilled, they are these lightly puffy yogurt soaked lentil balls that you will fight  over.

One bowl or serving will never be enough. At least plan on 2 to 3 servings per person.

This is one recipe that is worth the effort. Every single time.

Here is mom’s recipe below.

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Dahi vada Recipe

For vadas 

  • 3/4 cup urad dal (black lentils)
  • 1/4 cup moong dal 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger (optional)
  • Pinch of asafoetida (optional)

For buttermilk bath

  • 1/2 cup curd
  • 3 cups water
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste

For the Dahi ( Spicy yogurt sauce)

  • 3 cups thick yogurt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

For garnish

  • Tamarind – date chutney (store-bought, to taste)
  • Green chutney (store-bought, to taste)
  • Finely chopped cilantro ( for garnish)

1. Wash both the urad and moong  dal well ( at least 7 – 8 times in plenty of water) till the water runs clear. It will be milky at first and then run clear.

Soak dal in plenty of water for at least 5-6 hours to overnight.

2. Discard water from the dal and finely grind it with as little water as possible. Set aside the dal batter for 1 – 2 hours.

3. In the meantime prepare the buttermilk bath. Whisk all the ingredients listed till you get a thin batter. Set aside in a large shallow bowl.

4. Heat oil in a wok on medium-high heat.

Add salt and ginger to the dal batter. Whisk the batter with hand for at least 10 minutes in a flat plate. Whisk and whisk some more till you feel the batter to be light and fluffy.

4. Fry small golf ball sized vadas in hot oil till golden brown. Test one vada to ensure that the vada is cooked evenly through the center. If not, lower the heat and cook till they are golden brown.

6. Soak the vadas in buttermilk bath for at least 2 hours. Remove the vadas from the buttermilk bath and keep aside covered. They can be kept at room temperature.

7. Prepare the yogurt sauce by missing all the ingredients and adjusting to taste. Keep the yogurt in the refrigerator to chill till ready to serve.

8. When ready to serve, layer the vadas in serving bowl. Pour the yogurt sauce over the vadas.

Garnish with chutneys and cilantro.

Serve with additional bowls of chutney, cilantro, cumin and chili powder to add per taste.

Chicken Momos (Dumplings)

Momos

Original to North eastern Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim and other bordering countries like Bhutan and Nepal, momo’s are now available in all malls  and Indo- Chinese restaurants in metro cities. Mildly spiced minced chicken fill in thin wrappers and steamed, they are Varun’s favorites.

Chicken momos

I have been meaning to make them for a while but never got a chance till this weekend we bought some minced chicken and decided to make momo’s. Varun helped me mix the dough and then proceeded to create a mess. I couldn’t form them as well as I hoped to but they tasted like the ones you would get in Mainland China.

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This is a hit recipe that is going to stick around in our household for good!!

Chicken Momos Recipe

For the filling

  • 3/4 lb minced or ground chicken
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root ( about 2 inch root)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon finely chopped coriander leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoon finely chopped mint leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • Salt to taste

For the Cover

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • Salt to taste

1. Mix all the ingredients for the filling and set aside.

2. Mix the ingredients for cover starting with a cup of water and adding more as needed to make a stiff but pliable dough.

3. Make small balls ( cherry or lemon sized) and roll out thin circles ( like rotis or tortillas).

4. Place a tablespoon or two filling ( based on how large is the circle) in the center and scoop the edges up to form a dumpling. Repeat till all the dough and filling is used up.

5. In the meantime, set a saucepan with water to boil. Keep an well -greased steaming basket inside it.

6. Keep the dumplings in the steamer and steam for 10 – 12 minutes till they are done.

Serve hot with Siracha sauce.