My life was nourished and nurtured in the beautiful vale of Kashmir painted with mountains, lakes, running streams and meadows that know no end. Now in another beautiful part of the world in the US, I cook for the love of good healthy food…that feeds the soul. I recreate recipes that shaped my history and culture. For the love of discovering life and all things that speak to you and urge you on to evolve, touches your soul and make your journey through life a fulfilling experience.
My love for eggplants keeps me experimenting with new recipes from around the globe. This one is close to my heart and soul and so very easy to make.
Frying eggplants will fill your kitchen with an amazing aroma. I often chow down a few slices even before they make their way to the dish.
This recipe has the flavor of cloves, ginger, and fennel and is a delicate yet strong blend to showcase the eggplants. The tamarind paste is what adds the tanginess. Use it to your taste.
Tip: Be careful not to burn the cloves or the chili powder but adding water quickly.
4 eggplants – long or 8 small
1 1/2 tsp garlic paste
1 onion chopped
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp ginger powder
2 tbsp fennel powder
2 tbsp red chili powder
4 green cardamoms
4 black cardamoms
1 tsp black cumin seeds
1 tsp tamarind paste
Salt – to taste.
Putting it together:
Soak the tamarind paste in 1/2 cup hot water. Put aside.
Chopped and fry the onion until golden brown and make a paste of the fried onions adding a dash of water
Cut the eggplants lengthwise into 3 to 4-inch lengths – keeping a part of stem on the end pieces.
Heat the mustard oil until smoking and deep fry the eggplants until golden brown. Drain on paper towels
In a wide pan take 3 tbsp of the remaining oil and bring to medium heat
Add the cloves, red chili powder and salt. Add 2 cups of water immediately not letting the red chilies burn. Add the garlic, turmeric and cardamoms fennel powder, ginger powder, onion paste and continue to cook for 10 mins adding 2 more cups of water if needed.
Add the eggplants and tamarind water and cook for 5 -10 mins to get to a saucy consistency.
Serve with a garnish of green chilies with white rice or roti.
Sometimes the simpler the food the more rewarding for your taste buds. Visions of many beautiful vegetarian tables with paneer, lentils, and pickles seem to stay with me. The memories range from restaurants to friends houses after school, to street side travel shacks and many more…..but they are always vivid and connect me to a rich past.
Growing up our family were big meat eaters…it would not be “food” without lamb or chicken 🙂 However, every now and then we would have a vegetarian day where Paneer would be the showcase.
When I first moved to the US, store bought paneer (cheese) was not an option so making the paneer at home was the only way. Don’t get me wrong, homemade cheese is the best but sometimes a working girl needs a premade handy version so dinner can be cooked at moments notice.
The local Asian stores now have the most amazing Paneer available so I keep a block in the fridge or freezer for quick dinner situations.
This is a curry, which as always is spicy, tangy, rich, gentle, soft and ever so delicious.
I have paired it with butter rice, lentils and pickles. Naan or roti would be perfect with the platter.
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.
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.
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.
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.
1 large eggplant or 3-4 slim ones
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
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
Cut the eggplant into slices (1 inch), Season with salt and place in a colander for about half an hour.
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.
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.
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
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.
Top with the béchamel sauce, feta, and more gruyere.
Cook in a 400-degree oven for 15 mins until bubbly. Cool for a few minutes before digging in
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 🙂
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.
If you love cauliflower do check out my other recipes:
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
You can serve is as a starter course with pita or as…
This chill in the air and the smell of slow burning fall leaves calls for something spicy and healthful.
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.
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.