Moussakah vegetarian

While I was in NYC for a conference, I had the pleasure of dining with my sister and brother in law at a fabulous restaurant  Cleo at Mondrian Park Ave. The chef certainly had a way with Mediterranean small plates but one particular dish that caught my attention was the vegetarian Moussakah with eggplants and feta immersed in delicious béchamel sauce.

Moussakah

I have made Mousakkah many times with Lamb, beef and also with just vegetables and it always comes out warm and comforting.

Inspired by Cleo I experimented with a new recipe and it was a winner.

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Moussakah is a very popular Greek dish but there are many versions of it through the Mediterranean, all equally worthy of trying.

In a  traditional Greek Moussaka recipe,  minced beef (or lamb) is cooked in a tomato base and spices then layered with eggplants and topped with creamy béchamel sauce and cheese.

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In this vegetarian version, my basic ingredients are sweet eggplants and mushrooms. Then the béchamel sauce and the topping of feta and gruyere. I have made two small plates here for lunch but you can adjust and make one large one. The béchamel sauce has leftover which was wonderful. I have stored it for use during the week.

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Eggplants:

  • 1 large eggplant or 3-4 slim ones
  • Olive oil
  • Pink salt

Mushroom sauce

  • Cremini mushrooms – I box around 20 pieces
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 of a cup olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1 cup pureed tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Béchamel sauce

  • Stick of butter – 4 ounces
  • Whole milk – 3 cups
  • Flour – 4 ounces
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup Grated Gruyere
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions

  1. Cut the eggplant into slices (1 inch),  Season with salt and place in a colander for about half an hour.
  2. Squeeze the liquid from the eggplants with your hands and pat dry with a paper towel. Drizzle the eggplants with some olive oil and bake them for 15 minutes in a 400-degree oven until golden brown.
  3. Add olive oil to a pan over medium heat and stir in the chopped mushrooms and sauté for about 5 minutes,  add the garlic and chopped onions and continue to cook. Add the cinnamon and adjust the salt and pepper. Cook until the sauce thickens.
  4. For the béchamel sauce use a deep pan and melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour whisking continuously to make a paste and add warmed milk pouring in a stream. Continue to whisk the whole time to avoid lumps and get to a smooth paste.  Remove the pan from heat and add the egg yolks, salt, pepper, a pinch of nutmeg and the grated cheese. Whisk to incorporate all the ingredient and get a smooth and creamy paste
  5. To assemble I have used 2 small dishes, you can use a large baking dish as well. Sprinkle the bottom with some panko or breadcrumbs and layer the eggplants. Add the mushrooms sauce and another layer of eggplants.
  6. Top with the béchamel sauce, feta, and more gruyere.
  7. Cook in a 400-degree oven for 15 mins until bubbly. Cool for a few minutes before digging in

 

 

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Sharing at Fiesta Friday where co-hosts this week are Diann @ Of Goats and Greensand Shinta @ Caramel Tinted Life.

Cauliflower and Peas Curry – Matar Gobi

Cauliflower has become a staple in the house and is an ingredient in a variety of dishes spanning cuisines. I used riced cauliflower as a substitute for rice which has been a phenomenal adjustment of carbs in our diet.

When you combine cauliflower with a nice tomato curry you just can’t go wrong. My local Traders Joes store has made it even easier for me by selling already riced cauliflower which saves me a ton of time and the mess on my counter with grains of the vegetable flying around 🙂

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This is really easy to make and just perfect for a cold winter day. Serve with some flatbread or rice with a side of pickles.

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If you love cauliflower do check out my other recipes:

 

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Riced Cauliflower and Peas Curry - Matar Gobi

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

a savory tomato curry with peas and riced cauliflower

Ingredients

  • 1 head of Cauliflower – grated
  • 1 cup of frozen organic peas
  • 1 cup of peeled tomatoes
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 inch fresh ginger – grated
  • 1tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2-3 green chilies – chopped
  • 1 tsp kasoori methi
  • 2 tbsp yoghurt
  • 1/4 tsp Asafetida or hing(optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • Juice of half lemon
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Mustard oil ( or oil of your choice)

Directions

  1. Puree the tomatoes in a blender
  2. You can cut the cauliflower in florets and grate them or buy a riced cauliflower bag
  3. In a large pan add 2 tbsp oil and cumin seeds, once crackling add cauliflower and cook for 3-4 mins until slightly brown. Set aside.
  4. In a pan warm up another 3 tbsp of oil, add green chilies, cloves, grated ginger, and asafoetida, and .
  5. Add pureed tomatoes and let the mixture cook for a few minutes.
  6. Add  turmeric, chilies powder and kasoori methi and let the mixture cook until the oil starts to separate from the tomatoes
  7. Add the yoghurt and mix well
  8. Add frozen peas, cook for a minute and add the cauliflower.
  9. Do not cover the pan and use a dash of water as needed. This will only take a couple of minutes
  10. Top with lemon juice and fresh cilantro.

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Taking this to Fiesta Friday with the fab  cohosts  Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju.com and Laurena @ Life Diet Health

Warm Fava, Feta and Tomato Salad

Making this again for thanksgiving…perfect side for the table.

Food For The Soul

Who doesn’t like Fava Beans? I think a lot of people don’t but it may be just not having the right recipe.

Did you know that Fava beans are filled with nutrition and a great source of lean protein? Also known as broad beans, they have no saturated fat or cholesterol and contain a high concentration of thiamin, vitamin K, vitamin B-6, potassium, copper, selenium, zinc and magnesium.

This is another Mediterranean influenced dish which takes your palate through many surprising textures and tastes. The tomatoes are pan roasted in olive oil and garlic and a hint of red chillies which is the base of making this a warm salad. Make sure you get good Feta especially if you can make the trip to the local Mediterranean grocey store and explore the varieties.

Fava Beans with Roasted Tomatoes and Feta Fava Beans with Roasted Tomatoes and Feta

You can serve is as a starter course with pita or as…

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Thai Red Curry with Cod

This chill in the air and the smell of slow burning fall leaves calls for something spicy and healthful.IMG_7307

Thai cooking has always been a passion, with fresh aromatic ingredients like lemon grass, cilantro, chilies and ginger the possibilities of creating dishes in endless. This cuisine brings to world  the 5 flavors of sweet, salty, sour, bitter and hot. The  subtle variation in proportions of ingredients used highlights these flavors.

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Continue reading Thai Red Curry with Cod

Matz t, Palak – Lamb meatballs with Spinach

I spend a beautiful fall morning bringing out my Kashmiri spices in my American kitchen trying to connect and reconnect with a land so abundant with beauty and an unmatched gastronomical  adventure.

Kashmiri cuisine traces back to centuries of tradition, spices and methods of cooking.  The cuisine has evolved over the centuries absorbing influences from settlements and migrations. The flavors and spices of Kashmiri cuisine include dry ginger, fennel, cloves, cinnamon and saffron to name a few.

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My home smells like fennel and ginger and far away tales of dreams and amazing food are weaving in through the aroma creating an aura of peace. Continue reading Matz t, Palak – Lamb meatballs with Spinach

Fermented Food stories – Okra and Carrots

Fermented foods are just beautiful  not only for the taste buds but also for your gut.  Ancients culture have propagated fermented foods for preservation and taste through the centuries. The souring action of microbes that produce fermentation have been critical in our diets throughout  the globe.  Similar foods can be found in every culture,  just called something different.

Indian “Achar” or “Kanji” are great examples and so is the fabulous “Kimchi” from Korea.

My personal story takes me back to the late 1970’s where as a young girl spending lazy winters vacation in Lucknow, India  I would watch my grandfather ferment and pickle various vegetables in earthenware and produce the probiotic liquid called “Kanji” in India. It  was delicious, tart and healthy and the joy of helping my grandfather  while he worked on these beautiful foods is a memory that is permanent ink in my soul.

True to foods that nourish your soul and help you remember your history, in this series I am sharing different fermented foods I am experimenting with.

Click here for a previous recipe of Kashmir Achar, Red Cabbage and Kanji

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chutney

In this edition: Okra and Carrots

Continue reading Fermented Food stories – Okra and Carrots

Roasted Tomato and Garlic Chutney

It was a surreal summer filled with travels, sorrows, beauty, love and new perspectives. When I got back to my veggie garden after weeks of being away the tomatoes ( among other vegetables) were screaming to be picked turned into something divine.

My first instinct was to get all of them out to friends and family ( which I did for some), but….the rest went in preparations like this amazing tomato chutney.

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The tomatoes were halved and roasted whole in a 375 degree oven for about 30 mins to bring out the flavor.

The chilies are whole and dried and are a staple in the pantry.  The oil is a mustard oil which brings out a beautiful flavor.

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This chutney will last a while in the fridge, my teenager has been using it to smear her morning bagels.  I have used it on top of my grilled chicken for a workday lunch and topped my sandwiches.

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You can adjust the heat and seasoning  to your taste but my recommendation would be to keep the heat elevated 🙂 😉

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Roasted Tomato Garlic Chutney

  • Servings: many
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

a versatile chutney that goes with everything

Ingredients

  • 10-12 red tomatoes
  • 10 red dried chilies
  • 1 pod of whole garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Mustard oil
  • 1 tsp onion seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • Himalayan Salt to taste

Directions

 

  • Slice off the very top of the garlic and wrap the garlic pod in foil.
  • Layer the tomatoes along with the pod of garlic on a sheet pan.
  • Roast  in the 375 degree oven for 30 mins
  • Cool and remove the skin from the tomatoes and the garlic
  • Heat mustard oil in a pan until smoking
  • Add the seeds and let them splutter
  • Add the chilies for a couple of minutes
  • Next add the tomatoes, garlic, salt, and turmeric
  • Once bubbling, cover the pan and let the mixture cook for about 5- 7 mins.
  • Do taste the seasoning and adjust.
  • Cool the mixture and run it through your Vitamix or any other processor.
  • Bottle in jars. It will stay in the fridge for a couple of weeks if it lasts that long.

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Come join the party at Fiesta Friday!

 

great food and discovery of the soul

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