Monday, February 28, 2011

Stuffed Eggplant curry Maharashtrian Style!

Since a long time I wanted to try a classic authentic curry. I usually make the dry veggies as they are easier to make and lighter on the tummy too. But, once in a while you really crave for something hot and spicy especially when the weather is cold and drizzly like the way it is in LA now a days.

This time at the Indian store, I found fresh brinjals(small eggplants in American english) to my pleasure and I instantly knew what I wanted to make. The authentic Maharashtrian recipe - bharli vangi or stuffed eggplants in rich peanut curry. The best kind of eggplants to use is the striped white and purple small sized with thorny green crowns. Those taste the best and are usually seedless. But in US you got to compromise with what you get at the Indian grocery stores. But they do the need full, so its alright.

To Serve 4 people,  you need:
6 to 8 small sized eggplants
1/2 cup roasted peanut powder(coarsely ground)
1 onion finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon red chilly powder
1 teaspoon goda masala (you may use garam masala)
1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
Cooking Oil
Salt to taste.


In a bowl, mix the peanut powder, goda masala, red chilly powder, onions, salt and turmeric together. This mixture should be enough to stuff the eggplants and remaining of it is used to make the curry. Add a spoon or two of water to bind the masala together. I used a wedge full of lemon juice instead of water to give it a tangier taste.


Wash the eggplants thoroughly. You may keep the crown of the eggplant but I prefer to remove it. Slit the eggplants just up to the edge in two perpendicular cuts. Make sure you don't slit them through and through. Remember, we need to stuff them. Keep them in a bowl of water to prevent them from turning black until you are ready to use them. Stuff the eggplants with the mixture prepared and keep them aside.

To make the curry, in a deep pan, pour oil generously (around two tablespoons). Add the ginger garlic paste. Cook it for a while and add the remaining mixture. Keep it on a medium flame and keep stirring the mixture, otherwise the peanut powder tends to stick to the bottom of the pan. Cook the mixture till the oil oozes from the sides. It is a sign that the mixture is well cooked.

Now add the stuffed eggplants in the pan and stir them in order to coat them in the mixture. Put on the lid and let it cook for 2-3 minutes. Now, open the lid and add half a glass of water to the pan if you want a thick curry or else you may add more for a thinner gravy. Put the lid back and cook for 10 minutes. Add a little salt to the curry after adding water. Remember we already had salt in the mixture. Keep turning the eggplants in between so that they cook from all the sides.  In order to check if the eggplants are cooked, try to pierce them with a fork. The fork should get easily pierced in. Thus, the delicious curry is ready. You will come to know about it once your home smells great with the aroma from the curry.

It goes excellent with paratha, roti or rice. I especially like it with the rice.Bharli vangi is a classic maharasthrian dish and every family has its own staple recipe. Some people even add dried coconut, or sesame powder to the stuffing. My mom does not use onions in her curry but uses dried coconut. It all depends on your taste buds. But peanuts is the main taste maker.  So, next time when you go to the Indian store, and you see brinjals, you know what you got to try! Happy cooking :)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Corn Cheese Chilly Toast

I know..I know..I was supposed to post a complicated recipe. But I just couldn't help myself from posting this one. Very easy and ready to eat in ten minutes. Perfect for breakfast with a glass of cold coffee!

To make 4 toasts, all you need is:

  1/2 cup of yellow corn kernels
  4 Slices of bread, brown or white as per preference
  Chilly flakes
  Salt to taste
  4 Cheese Slices.


While you are getting the stuff ready, start preheating the oven at 450 degrees F. Now, simply arrange the 4 slices in a plate, cover it with corn, sprinkle a little chilly flakes and salt as per taste. Top it with the cheese slice. Done! Put them in the oven for 5-6 minutes to bake. Once you see the cheese melting at the top, change the oven settings to broil for a minute or two. Its better to broil for one-two minutes as only baking it will burn the toast from the bottom. Voila!  Your corn cheese chilly toasts are ready. You may use finely chopped green peppers and cilantro for a different flavor instead of chilly flakes.  Even french bread would be a good option.  It reminds me of the corn cheese chilly toasts we get in Smokin' Joes in India. Yumm! Do try it and let me know your opinion. :)

Needles and Threads - Project Complete!

Well..Well..Well.. After a good amount of hard work, a little patience and 2 seasons of 'Grey's Anatomy', my first project is complete. Following is the pic.

 The entire embroidery is done in the stem stitch. I guess its the next easiest stitch after the 'running stitch'. Now, I learnt this stitch when I was a kid, but you can always find them online. It's quite easy. First, I tried the  'Long and short' stitch to fill up the flower buds, but I couldn't do a good job with it. So I switched to simpler stem stitch. As the fabric was very thick, I had to use all 6 threads together to make it visible. Here is the picture of the cushion on the sofa chair -

So here is my first project complete and I am so happy. Now its time to take up something new! I will continue with embroidery but not right away. I would like to have a few suggestions from you all. Put on your thinking caps and I will put on mine too :). It will be great to know your suggestions and if something excites me,  I will surely take it up. Now its time to remain awake all the night as its India-England match coming up soon. Go India Go!!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Needles and Threads - Chapter 1

As this is a new project and a new activity altogether that I have taken up and its a total DIY (Do it Yourself), I am going to share every small bit of detail of it with you. I will try and cut the long story short but I really have to tell you all the small tough times this new activity has given me.

Firstly, I had to pick the fabric I would do it on. Recently we got a new couch for our home and with that we received three matching cushions. So, I picked up one and started my google search for the design. Here is the simple design that I picked.

Now, I didn't have any tracing paper or any kind of tracing supplies with me. And the impatient me wanted to get going. The fabric I have chosen is a thick upholstery material, so it wasn't easy to just draw on it. So I had a little crazy idea to get this done. I perforated the entire design with a needle. Tch-tch-tch-tch I kept on going around the lines of my design. My idea was to dip a cotton ball in thin color liquid and then placing the temporary stencil on the fabric, I would rub the cotton ball all over the design and it should be traced. So proud I was with the brilliant brainwave I had. Well, it wasn't easy as it seemed to be. 

Firstly, I didn't pin my design. I was super impatient in getting this done with. I simply dipped the cotton and started rubbing over the design. After making the  paper half wet, I picked one corner to see if the design got traced. All I could see was blots of red color all across the fabric.  I thought to myself, ok let me use a ball pen instead and simply tear through the perforated lines. But the paper was too wet to take that assault. Thus first try, total failure.

Second try, again I took a print of the design and started all over again ..tch-tch-tch-tch.  This time I pinned my design to the fabric and started to trace it with the pen. Blame it to the quality of the pen, it still didn't give me satisfactory result. Just then, came in my hubby dearest, Patty to the rescue. He said, instead of all this, I can simply draw it for you. And ta-da!...He completed it for me perfecltly! :)

If anyone has better ideas on how can I trace better next time, please share them with me :). Here is a pic of what I have done till now. I will share the story of stitches and colors in the next post! Let me know if anyone has done this kind of work before. It  will be great to know your stories too.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Prologue - Needle and Threads

As promised, I am back with a new and fresh project in hand, a new hobby which I plan to stick on to - long as I can :). It is hand embroidery.Now are you wondering where did that come from..Well, keep reading!

Embroidery is something that I always wanted to take up since a young age - may be when I was 8 -9 years old. I used to see my mom filling up bedsheets with these beautiful intricate designs which would splash up with colors and come to life once she would complete it. I would nudge her to let me do some part of it, and she would let me do just a small leaf, a flower petal or may be just a swirl, coz my work wasn't that neat and she wouldn't let my untidy work show up in her art piece.  Then as we grew up, she got busy with us and with that the needles and threads just disappeared out of her life. And thus, out of my life too.

When I got married last year,  My Grandma-in-law (My mother-in-law's mother), Nani as we fondly call her, gifted us a beautiful bedsheet set fully hand embroidered by her as a wedding gift. And what a master piece of art it is. It is the most wonderful gift I ever received. The bed sheet is lemon yellow in color filled with a beautiful mesh of pink embroidered flowers and green swirls. It is a hell of a design covering the entire 7'X8' of yarn and she did it all by herself in just a month. Can you believe that? I mean it is a lot of hard work and seriously lots of patience. Its her unbeatable passion for it. You give her a piece of cloth and she would start off with her needle and threads and make it a piece of art. My Mom-in-law has a huge collection of bedsheets, pillow covers, sarees, frames all beautified by Nani with her skillful hand. When I go back to India this december, I will take pictures of all that beautiful work and share it with you, for sure!

And looking at all that wonderful work, it got registered somewhere in my brain, ok I got to do this. I really got to do this. So this time, before coming back to US, I randomly picked up a few threads and a pack of needles. And now the time has come to put it to some good use. I have already started with something which I will share with you all in the next post. And I have to make a promise to myself, I will complete it!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Long long time!

I know I have been away and its not good for a beginner blogger like me. My bad! Honestly, after just 3-4 posts I thought no one is even reading it, why bother! But when I went to India for two months, I met a very old childhood friend and she said, "why aren't you posting any recipes, I like to read your blog". And that one acknowledgement lifted up my spirits. So I thought to myself, once I am off vacation I will start writing again. So you are one reason Minu that I am motivated to write again.

I just finished watching the movie Julia & Julia. To those who haven't seen it, is about a blogger Julie who aspires to be a writer and who really adores a passionate cookery book author Julia. So her project is to write a blog on her project of following every recipe in the former's cook book (around 524 recipes) and complete it in 365 days. The movie is about  the simile between the cook book author who achieved her goals and about the blogger who follows her and achieves hers too.And its a real story. Worth a watch - especially for Meryl Streep. She is adorable. not that I am going to start writing about movies that I liked watching. Its the second reason that has motivated me to start writing again :)

But I am still thinking what exactly it is that I can really follow passionately. I have lot of ideas in mind. I don't really think I can stick to one thing.So I hope to take up smaller projects first and to share the joy of achieving them. And yes, cooking some really complicated recipes would be a part of it too. Just to give you all a hint :)