Thursday, April 17, 2014

Baingan Bharta (Eggplant mash) - The Rustic Style

A creation that inspired me through one of the social groups. I liked it instantly and got up to make it. I was also a little biased as baingan bharta has been my favorite since childhood. Whenever I saw papa bringing those big eggplants home, I would be happy. I knew it was bharta time. I would eat a lot of it and sleep merrily. Those childhood days! 

The concept of roasting the eggplant fascinated me. So rustic and dramatic! The aroma of the roasting eggplant would fill the house. The process of making bharta felt like a celebration to me. Though, we always made it by roasting the eggplant and frying it in onion & tomato. This time, I made it in a more rustic style. I roasted the eggplant along with garlic and green chilly. Then, I just added salt, cumin powder and coriander to it. No oil and no frying involved.  It had a different taste and aroma.

I had it with ghee ke haath ki roti (a  variation of chapati that my mom makes and is delicious, will post the recipe soon), onion and curd. It was an amazing meal. I felt satisfied and happy that I tried it.

This preparation is very healthy as it does not have any oil and is not fried. The original recipe involves the addition of sesame oil as well. I skipped the sesame oil, though I am sure that would also taste nice. Our experiences with lebanese and turkish cuisines tell us that eggplant and sesame seeds/sesame oil goes well together. 

It is a simple recipe. Hope you guys enjoy preparing it. Take some time out from your busy day and feel the pleasure of roasting the eggplant. The color intensifies and the eggplant releases a different aroma in the kitchen. A treat to all the senses. 

Be careful while buying the eggplant. Tap it to check if it sounds hollow or too tight. If it sounds hollow you are good to go else avoid it. The ones which are too tight are full of seeds and will take ages to roast.

Baingan Bharta (Eggplant mash) - The Rustic Style
Recipe Adapted From: Baingan Bharta
Serves : 2
Level: Easy
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

1. 1 medium sized eggplant
2. 5-6 garlic clove
3. 7-8 green chilies ( also depend on the bitterness of the chilly and your liking for spicy food )
4. 1/2 tsp cumin powder - Optional
5. fresh coriander - chopped
6. salt to taste

1. Make about 5-6 slits on the eggplant. Stuff the garlic cloves and green chilies inside. 
2. Roast the eggplant on open flame. Check if done by pressing the eggplant using your finger. It will take about 10-15 minutes depending on the type of eggplant. 
3. Now remove the peel off the eggplant when it cools down a bit. 
4. Mash the eggplant along with the garlic cloves and green chilies.
5. Mix salt, cumin powder and fresh coriander to the mash.
6. Serve with chapati/naan/parantha.

Something worth a try! A different style of creating something you have been eating since childhood. Easy, healthy, homely and comfortable food. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Stuffed Baked Potato Baskets

A simple idea when implemented can turn into something amazing.

Hard work and continuous persistence can make you achieve great things. 

Perfection is at the end of a steep and rough path. But oh my my! What a destination it is to be at!

This post is again a result of an inspiration. The world of media and internet is overwhelming. You can see and share whatever you feel like. I am a part of certain groups on fb where some really inspirational stuff is shared. The world of food, is an amazing world to be in. Cooking, exploring, trying out new ingredients, trying out new cuisines, using the same ingredient differently, different styles of cooking and what not -- this is what I dream about and this is what I do.

Well, I saw these potato baskets on such a group. They were empty when I saw them.
I filled them up with more love and more food.

The one below looks like a hat. It is funny, beautiful and delicious.

I made 4 different types of stuffed potato baskets. They were amazing. My friends ate them wholeheartedly. They are a keeper. These baskets are very good for a quick bite, an evening snack or a fancy party snack. They could also be a very attractive snack for kids at their parties.

This post has taken a lot from me. I had to make these baskets three times to get them perfelectly out of the muffin pan. I cracked the trick eventually. Certain pictures might confuse you and are in contradiction with the steps described below. In the steps, I describe that the stuffing has to be put in after taking out the baskets from the muffin pan and then I bake them for some more time. Though, certain pictures show the stuffing in the baskets while they were still in the muffin pan. Follow the steps and do not get confused. I tried these baskets all the possible ways and the steps describe the best possible way to make them and take them out cleanly and perfectly. If you put the stuffing in the baskets while they are still baking in the muffin pans, it will be very hard to take them out of the pan.

I wanted to take a lot of pictures (as you can see). I want to improve my photography skills. Now, I am starting to settle down a bit so I also intend to buy a lot of props and a new camera, a lamp and a reflector. I hope all goes well. A lot of thought has gone into this post -- you can see the three philosophical sayings at the beginning of the post.

These baskets are lovely. Stuff them up with any ingredient of your choice. Eggs went amazingly well with these baskets. The baked potato and the baked egg combination is killing. Trust me! Mushrooms and cheese also went really well. You can stuff them up with just cheese also. I think aubergine mash will also go very well with these baskets. I have not tried this combination yet. I ate a few of them without any stuffing and the taste of baked-crunchy potato was yummy. They can also be eaten with just mayonnaise. Slurp!

So go ahead. Follow this recipe and let me know how it turned out.

Stuffed Baked Potato Baskets
Makes 6
Recipe Adapted from: Potato Baskets

Ingredients for potato baskets:
1. 3 medium size potatoes - peeled and grated
2. 3 tbsp corn flour
3. 2 tbsp oil/olive oil
4. freshly ground black pepper to taste
5. salt to taste

Ingredients for mushroom/capsicum stuffing:
1. few button mushrooms/1 capsicum - chop in chunks
2. cheese (I used a soft cheese similar to feta)
3. freshly ground black pepper
4. salt to taste

Mix the ingredients and the stuffing is ready.

Ingredients for tomato stuffing:
1. 3-4 fresh basil leaves
2. 1 tomato - chop in chunks
3. a large pinch of dry oregano
4. freshly ground black pepper
5. salt to taste

Mix the ingredients and the stuffing is ready.

Ingredients for egg stuffing:
1. egg (1 per basket) - Break the egg separately without destroying the yolk.
2. freshly ground black pepper
3. salt to taste

1. Mix potato, salt, black pepper, cornflour and oil properly.
2. Grease a muffin pan.
3. Place the potato mixture in the muffin pan alongside the walls.
4. Bake the baskets in a preheated oven for 10-12 minutes at 200 degree celsius. Keep at the top shelf.
5. Take out the potato baskets from the muffin pan and place them on the baking tray (covered with aluminuim foil ). You have to be really careful here. Use a butter knife/rear end of a fork/knife to take out the baskets from the muffin pan. Remember to take them out before the top edges of the basket start to crisp out. As when the edges crisp out, they stick to the pan and it becomes difficult to take them out.
6. Fill out the potato baskets with different stuffing. For the egg stuffing, just place the yolk in the basket with some of the egg white. Sprinkle salt and black pepper. I also baked one of the baskets with just some egg white.

7. Bake the baskets for another 15 minutes or till you see the stuffing has become golden brown. The egg would have been baked by now.
8. Serve hot with sauce, ketchup or just some cheese shavings on top.

Empty Baskets.

 If you see closely, the baked yolk has a thin glossy film on the top. 

The baskets were amazing. Go try them yourself and let me know how they turned out.

Disclaimer: Certain pictures might confuse you and are in contradiction with the steps described. In the steps, I describe that the stuffing has to be put in after taking out the baskets from the muffin pan and then I bake them for some more time. Though, certain pictures show the stuffing in the baskets while they were still in the muffin pan. Follow the steps and do not get confused. I tried these baskets all the possible ways and the steps describe the best possible way to make them and take them out cleanly and perfectly. If you put the stuffing in the baskets while they are still baking in the muffin pans, it will be very hard to take them out of the pan.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tomato, Basil, Cheese Calzone

I love calzones. I have a soft corner for Pizza and Calzone. Actually, both were part of a personal project that I was doing. That explains the extra love. I have been making calzones for months now. Though I never got a chance to post them.

It is very difficult for me to list out something that I don't like to eat. Once, I and my sister were discussing about what we like and what we don't. I could not list even a single food item that I don't like. Ah wait! There was one, dry cabbage curry. My sister said that she will cook it for me and she was sure that I would like it too. She is always so confident about these things. She knows I love the Indian curries and dry vegetables that she prepares. She is an amazing cook, much better than I am. She has more experience too. I love watching her when she is cooking. And when I do, I always learn a thing or two.

I make pizza quite frequently and most of the times the dough turns out to be a little extra than required. I keep it in the fridge for later use and make calzones with it. The first calzone I made, was a mushroom and onion calzone. It turned out to be amazing and I became crazy. I made all kinds of calzones thereafter. The one over which everyone drools is the chocolate calzone. I will post that soon. It is not a complex/detailed recipe but I like to create some curiosity. Chocolate calzone takes you to another world. You feel like you are flying with open wings in the clear blue sky. Summer breeze starts blowing all around and nothing seems to be better. Believe me or sue me. ;) Just Joking.

I made pizza pie and pizzas on Thursday and there was some extra dough which I kept in the fridge. I went to Ooty with friends for the weekend. Ooty is a good place. It was sunny throughout and it was less greener. But the air was cold so the temperature was not that high. It was an amazing drive. There were a lot of memorable moments and walks. Aaah! I will never forget those. When I am up at a height, I am myself. Heights give me a high that nothing else gives (Assume we are not talking about food). Not a lot of people know that about me. But I have written poems on being at a height and enjoying the walk up to the summit.
Here is one for you: Heights

Ooty is known for homemade chocolates. We bought a lot of them. We went to Coonoor also. Coonoor is another hill station not far off from Ooty. It is known for its cheese farm. We could not go to the cheese farm and neither were we able to contact them. So, we searched for some homemade cheese in Ooty itself. We found a shop which sold local cheese. I and my friend bought a lot of cheese. The one I use in the recipe is a roasted garlic and paprika cheese. It is kind of like feta but even softer. We also bought aged cheddar, montasio style cheese, pepper honey and lemon & ginger marmalade. Shopping for food is always fun. I do it alone almost always. But this time when we entered the shop he was the one who suggested to roam around and buy a few things. I was surprised and so damn happy. It happens very rarely that I get company to roam around a food store with someone whilst the other person is also enjoying the process and is actively participating. The feeling was amazing. Our friends were busy buying clothes so we took enough advantage of the time.

So now you can imagine that I had a nice weekend and have good memories. Travel and trips bring people closer. They also expose you to certain traits of people that you have been ignoring. But you realize that there are certain things which can't be ignored. Maybe they are an important part of his/her being and not yours. Well, I can keep talking about travel, trips, mountains, heights, sky, people etc. but there is a lot more that I want to share with you.  Enjoy this tomato, basil, cheese calzone.

Let me pour out the recipe.

Tomato, basil, cheese Calzone
Makes 1

Take the dough recipe from here: Vegetable Pizza with Homemade Dough

1. 1 tbsp olive oil
2. 2 plum tomatoes - cut in chunks
3. 1 green chilly - chopped finely (can avoid)
4. 5-6 fresh basil leaves
5. Soft cheese - Use as per your taste (I used a soft cheese. I used about 7-8 small cubes of cheese)
6. Freshly ground black pepper - as per taste
7. salt to taste
8. oregano to taste

1. Heat up the olive oil in a pan. Add basil to the oil when it is hot.
2. Add tomatoes and green chilly to the pan after a few seconds.
3. Saute the tomatoes on high heat for about 2 minutes.
4. Season with salt, black pepper and oregano.
5. Roll out a ball of pizza dough. Keep it thin.
6. Spread the tomato on one half of the rolled out dough.
7. Add cheese on the top of the tomatoes.
8. Apply water on the edges of this half using your fingers. This will help in binding the edges closely.
9. Close the other half of the rolled out dough over the tomatoes and cheese.
10. Bind the edges of the dough using you finger and water. Hold one end of the edges (both the layers) and give them a twist towards the inside. Keep going like this till you reach the other end. Use water if dough is sticking to your hand.
11. Take aluminium foil and sprinkle some flour on it.
12. Keep the calzone on the foil.
13. Brush the calzone with water or egg white. The top of the calzone will cook slowly now and will be crispier. The color will also be brighter.
14. Pre heat the oven at 200 degree celsius. Place the calzone in the baking tray of the pre heated oven.
15. Let it cook for about 10-12 minutes or till the point it browns up.

Serve hot.

The calzone was delicious. The crust was light and crunchy and the inside was flavorful. Really, tomato, cheese and basil is an amazing combination. I highly recommend you to make this.

If the tomatoes are very juicy, some of the juices may run out. If possible, cook the tomatoes in the oven for sometime. That would take some of the moisture out. Bind the edges of the calzone tightly. I had a loose connection somewhere and the tomato juices came out. It turned out fine in the end though. So what are you waiting for? Go, go go!