This is a fairly simple and much loved dish in many parts of India.
Even those who generally do not like aubergines wouldn’t mind a helping of baingan bharta.
Despite the simplicity, there are many regional variations, however minor, that make it taste very different from one region to another, depending on whether it was made using mustard oil, or smoked or not, or the spices and masalas that went in etc.
Here is my version which is as simple as it can get, and just the way I love it.
No spices, minimal oil, the flavours of the brinjal, tomato and onion just shine through in a delicious medley.
Aubergine – 1 large
Onions – 2 large (finely chopped)
Tomatoes – 1 large (I used 2, because I like it tangy!) finely chopped
Chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves – 2 tablespoons (finely minced)
Oil – 2 teaspoons
Salt – to taste
1. Roast the aubergine directly on a low flame (or better yet, on hot coals or bbq if possible!), turning from time to time, till the skin is charred and the inside is cooked. Alternately, broil in an oven after coating the skin with a little oil. Or boil. The last two methods may not provide that characteristic smoky flavour that is such an important component of the flavour.
2. Carefully peel and discard the charred skin. Lightly mash the flesh with a fork and keep aside.
3. Cook the onions on a low flame in the oil adding 1/4 teaspoon salt till well cooked and light brown.
4. Add the tomatoes and continue cook till soft and till the oil starts to separate. The water from the tomatoes should slightly dry up.
5. Add the mashed aubergine and heat through, further mashing it lightly in the process.
6. Turn off the heat, mix in the coriander.
7. Serve hot with rotis or parantha.
8. Works great as a dip with chips or pita bread, too.
Enjoy the goodness.
|The plating and fingerprints are courtesy patient little hands that waited for me to take a quick picture. 🙂
Nature in a truffle.
Sesame seeds – 1/4 cup, lightly roasted, (preferably unhulled)
Lemon juice – 1/4 cup (or to taste)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 1/4 cup
Garlic – 1 teaspoon, finely chopped
Blend all the ingredients in the mixie to a smooth paste.
- To use as a spread, keep the consistency thick like peanut butter.
- To use as a thin sauce or salad dressing, blend in a little water to the required consistency.
Optional additions could be roasted cumin powder, or chopped parsley/basil/mint/dill, or red chilly powder/paprika.
- This spread also works as a versatile base to make any other sesame based dip, including hummus.
- Goes well with crudites, pita bread, roasted veggie salads.
The real charm of eating such food, of course, lies in eating it on the streets, from leaf-moulded cups, with woefully inadequate, wooden ice-cream spoons, testing the borders of tolerance in terms of spice.
But a dish as wonderful as this needs to be made at home much more often than it is, given that it is actually quite healthy if you get right down to it!
This is the way we’ve always had bhel-puri at home, over the years, tweaking here and there to make even a meal of it at times, the ingredients have become simplified to just these bare basic ones which still deliver quite a tasty punch.
Feel free to add whatever you think will fit into the general scheme of things.
Like grated carrots, or sprouts for example.
Or the important exclusions like papdi (see here in my post of Chaat Tarts for the healthy, baked version) or sev, or even potato crisps, roasted peanuts, or any of your favorite crunchies.
Even test the boundaries with your favorite sauce (I’ve had people add tomato ketchup!) or even some yoghurt (if not vegan, and if willing it to get soggy even faster than it otherwise will.)
Though this is a light dish, the central ingredient is actually rice, which is a staple cereal. All it takes is a large drink (like water for example) afterwards to leave one feeling much fuller as the grains absorb the liquid! 😉
Puffed Rice (Murmura) – 2 cups
Baked Crips (like these) – a handful (optional, not pictured; avoid for gluten-free)
Potatoes – 2, medium. (Boiled, peeled and cubed)
Tomatoes – 2, medium. (chopped)
Onion – 1, preferable red variety (finely chopped)
Mix everything together and serve immediately.
And only because one fine day, she and some of her friends decided on a whim to sign up for a short-term baking course at the IHMCTAN (Institute of Hotel Management Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition).
It was surely fun for the whole family, because we regularly got to sample all the goodies that they made in class. I still have her notes from then!
Trying out the bakes together with her was double the fun, also because we were keen to test out our second oven , a counter-top OTG. My first oven, a circular one with a lid, several years old by then, worked perfectly fine, but having finished all the basic baking trials on it several times over, I felt ready to graduate to a ‘superior’ oven. I’ll tell you this, though, – nothing could bake as well as that first, circular oven with lid. 😉 Not even my current convection one with fan and all.
These particular coconut macaroons were a favorite because not only were they quite simply delicious, but so very simple with just few ingredients, – an important factor to consider in those days where specialty supplies were few and far between.
Naturally I had to try it out with aquafaba, and was quite thrilled to discover that they turn out EXACTLY like the ones with egg white that we used to make all those years ago (indeed and only stopped because of that one ingredient).
This was a second try (an earlier experiment with jaggery failed – the temperature was a bit on the higher side, and jaggery does not dessicate well)
With this batch, I followed her recipe, simply substituting the AF for the egg whites, but with a slight increase in the the quantity of coconut during the mixing (going by the texture of the batter), and I left out the vanilla. Simpler is better. The coconut flavour really shines through.
Some further fine-tuning of ingredients has been done on subsequent lots , I will share them in due course of time.
This one is for old times’ sake.
(makes around 40 pieces depending on size)
Aquafaba (see here for more info and how to make) – 1/3 cup (80 ml)
Granulated sugar – 125 gms
Dessicated Coconut – 200 gms
1. Whip the aquafaba using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, till stiff peaks are reached.
2. Gradually add the sugar and whip it in. Test for any undissolved sugar grains by rubbing between finger and thumb to check graininess, and continue whipping till smooth.
3. Fold in the dessicated coconut.
This is a soup that gets made very often in my home.
All the year round, too, because pumpkins are always available.
It has an interesting blend of flavours – the sweetness from the pumpkin, the tang from the lemon juice, freshness from coriander (cilantro) leaves, as well as the very Indian flavours from the spices – a refreshing variation from the cinnamon and rich creamy soups (which are also great, of course!)
Pumpkin (Red or Yellow) – 300 grams (peeled and chopped)
Vegetable Stock or Water – 500 ml
Celery – 1 large stalk, chopped
Onion – 1 large, chopped
Coriander seeds – 1 Tablespoon
Black Peppercorns – 1/2 teaspoon (optional)
Bay leaf – 1 large (optional)
Salt – to taste
Oil – 1 teapoon (I use sesame, cold pressed)
Note: To make the soup thinner, increase the stock/water (or reduce the pumpkin to 200 gms).
1. Heat the oil in a large pot (or pressure cooker), and add the coriander seeds followed by the black peppercorns, and bay leaf (if using).
2. When lightly browned and start to give off an aroma, add the celery and onions along with a pinch of salt.
3. Cook, stirring, till onions are translucent, adding the bruised coriander leaves midway through.
On the outskirts of the city, where things tend to grow wild, there is a creeper with very pretty, attractive flowers and rather ‘ho-hum’-looking fruit encased in softly spiny bracts.
There’s nothing ho-hum about their taste, though.
An exotic, delicate flavour to match those flowers, packed into the tiny morsel-sized pulp that is as much loved by birds, too.
It is difficult to find a whole ripe fruit, since the birds invariably get to them just at the right time. and always long before any human might even notice.
Though I never missed seeing the flowers, I would have missed this delicious, edible surprise altogether, if not for a chance conversation with Y2.
Apparently one of the popular past-times with him and his friends, when boredom strikes, is to make a “sandwich” using this.
Occasionally there is some barter or trading involved. At one point there was even a restaurant with this, among other notables, on the menu.
Currency is wide-ranging (from sticks, stones, leaves, even “shramdaan” (donated labour) to an ongoing “construction” work (tent with sticks and leaves). Neighbouring traders might get a free exchange for “goods”.
Once I was offered a taste of this sandwich (much like a “paan”) and was amazed to discover that it’s actually quite delicious! I even asked for a second!
Then he whizzed me along on a foraging trip, explaining the ingredients, and how to identify and source them.
I managed to take some quick, blurry pictures to document the process –
|Leaves and seeds of wild basil, tender green leaves of tamarind, all plucked, washed and squeezed dry.|
|Pictured from left to right: Wild Basil Leaves, Tender Tamarind Leaves, Wild Basil Seeds, Wild Passionfruit.|
|Ingredients all assembled. (That blob is the pulp of the passionfruit – has to be eaten to be believed!)|
And here’s the pièce de résistance –
|Zingy, Fresh Mouthful, anyone? Naturally vegan, gluten-free, delicious, fresh and healthy.|
This is one salad that is hearty, filling and chock full of nutrients while being delicious (even the versions with just potatoes and hardly anything else!)
A great way to feel satiated and refreshed this summer.
|Just the thing for a light, al fresco lunch in the blazing summer.|
For me, this is particularly high on nostalgia because it used to be one of my favorite things to order long ago at a restaurant called Casa Piccola (now non-existent), one of the few places in Bangalore where one would find continental type of dishes, a tad homely in style, but such menu choices were few and far between, those days.
So naturally, one of the first things I wanted to use my home-made Vegan Mayonnaise (with Aquafaba) was this.
This is my version, with plenty of fruits and veggies along with my favorite potatoes.
If not ultra strict, it even works as a ‘phalahari, or fasting food.
A delicious way to get a dose of fresh nutrients!
Ingredients: (4 large servings)
Boiled (Waxy) Potatoes – 5 or 6 medium sized, peeled, cut into chunks.
Lightly-steamed/Blanched Vegetables – 4-5 cups (carrots, french beans, peas), peeled and cubed
Crunchy apple (tart or sweet) – 1 small, cut into chunks.
Pineapple – 1 cup, cut into chunks
Vegan Mayonnaise (see here for how to make) – 3/4 cup (or to taste)
Onion – 1 small, finely chopped
English Cucumber – 1 cut into chunks
Olives – 1-2 Tablespoon
Pickled gherkins – 6 small, sliced
Capers – 1 Tablespoon
Celery – 1-2 sticks finely chopped
Fresh Parsely – 1-2 Tablespoon finely chopped
Salt and freshly milled pepper – to taste
(All ingredients and quantities flexible and optional, depending on preference.)
Mix everything well together. Add the vegan Mayo dressing, and toss it all together till the pieces are nicely coated.
Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
Serve cold (or just slightly cool, as I like it).
And no egg!
No nasties, either. (Remember that ingredient list of a commercially made mayo jar?!)
It is so simple and easy to make, and far more delicious than the store-bought version, with the possibility of tweaking the taste endlessly as desired.
What’s not to like?
(Adapted only very slightly from Peanut Butter and Vegan.)
Aquafaba – 3 Tablespoons
White wine vinegar – 1 Tablespoon (Can be apple cider vinegar)
Mustard powder – 1/2 teaspoon
Salt – 1/2 teasoon
Sunflower oil – 3/4 to 1 cup (Or any neutral-tasting oil, like Safflower)
1. Using an immersion blender (or a mixie jar – if the quantity is enough get whizzed) blitz the first four ingredients – ie, the aquafaba, the vinegar, the mustard and salt) briefly…….
…….. till well mixed.
2. Slowly drizzle the oil into the mixture, little by little, while keeping the blender running (Or add into the blender jar in small installments, and blitz).
The mixture will begin to thicken.
3. Once thick enough to hold, stop adding oil.
- Refrigerate to store. I have no idea what is the shelf life of this mayo, but I do know that cooked chickpeas are quite perishable,
Though it’s not advisable to store for too long, the flavours really do meld well with time.
This is especially true when mixed into a cold salad.
So it’s a balance between using discretion about the perishability, and allowing the flavours to marinate. 😀
(I kept mine in the fridge for around three days – the mayo seemed fine. It also was fine in one salad that had just this dressing, but didn’t keep too well in another salad where i mixed it in half and half with hung (greek) yoghurt – though that had tasted great when freshly made.)
- The consistency of this one might be a tad thinner than the commercial versions. It will thicken slightly on refrigeration.
- And since there are no chemical preservatives either (that’s the whole point after all!), I wouldn’t really keep more than two days even refrigerated.
So this quantity (around 3/4 to 1 cup, depending on how much oil got used) is a good amount to make.
- The main (predominant) flavours really come from the vinegar and the mustard. (I used premium, white wine vinegar and yellow mustard, freshly powdered).
I’ve also tried versions with other spices and condiments to vary the flavours, it’s immensely “tweak-able” – and they all work really well. (Coming up, sometime soon!).
- Though the oil is not an important contributor to the flavour (and deliberately so), it IS the main ingredient by volume in this condiment, constituting the bulk of it. Good to remember if planning to use by cupfuls! 😉
(Try it in this delicious Russian Salad)