Stuffed Indian Eggplant

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By Andrea Nguyen

There are many kinds of eggplants in Asia and the egg-shaped Indian variety is particularly wonderful. It peaks during hot months and as the season winds down, I make this terrific Indian recipe, which I learned from Ruta Kahate’s 5 Spices, 50 Dishes. You’ll find the Indian eggplants at South Asian markets as well as at some farmer’s markets where they’ll be sold by Asian farmers. In California where I live, Hmong farmers are my summer time go-to source for eggplants. They have a medium-thick skin and creamy flesh, and are much smaller than the regular globe variety. You can certainly grill them, but better yet, stuff them with a rich mixture of ground peanuts and sesame seeds and let them get kind of crusty. Serve warm or cold.

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Posted in Indian, Recipes

Curry Fried Rice

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by Andrea Nguyen 

I typically walk to the market every day for groceries, but ever since I pulled my Achilles I’ve had to do a lot more cooking on the fly.  

The other day I limped to the fridge to figure something out for lunch. I found some leftover rice, a couple of eggs, blanched green beans, and sautéed mushrooms. I could have made an omelet and reheated the rice in the microwave, but fried rice came to mind. 

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Posted in Indian

Disaster Dal

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by Laura V. Anderson

Some days, dinner does not go as planned. I’ve been working some late nights lately, and I wanted to throw together a fast, easy dinner that didn’t require a trip to the grocery store. Since I already had red lentils and spices in my pantry, dal was the obvious solution. I also had a bag of red potatoes lying around, so I decided to add a few to my lentil stew for heft. 

Tired, hungry, and harried, I peeled and chopped fresh ginger and garlic, and I cubed my potatoes. I transferred these to a soup pot as I rustled around for the other ingredients I needed. My kitchen is small—the two square feet or so of counter space it offers are perennially taken up by a dish rack and an electric kettle. There wasn’t really enough room for the soup pot on the counter, but I managed to balance it pretty well on the edge—or so I thought. Five seconds later, as I reached into my cabinet for coriander seeds, I heard a bang and looked over to see cubes of potato and flecks of garlic and ginger bouncing across my studio apartment.
 
Posted in Indian

An Open Air Market in India

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By Julie Sahni

[I’ve been an admirer of Julie Sahni since I first began cooking from her essential Classic Indian Cooking in the 80s, and I’m happy to say we’ve become friends. Ms. Sahni is the chef/owner of Julie Sahni’s Indian Cooking in New York City, and an award winning author of 10 cookbooks (Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking is also a must-have). She’ll be writing about Indian cooking periodically for mb.com – how great is that? – mb]

I love to visit Indian grocery stores in Queens, not just for spices, legumes and chutneys but for Indian vegetables. Mounds after mounds of tiny okra-like tindola squash, long and windy snake gourd chichinda, crocodile-textured karela, tiny eggplants, guar beans, and Indian kakri cucumbers are dumped on racks, bins, and baskets, not oiled and stacked like LEGOs.   

My mother taught me very early on that okra’s tenderness can be gauged by simply running fingers, ever so gently, on its body.  Silky smooth texture with rounded edges suggests perfect okra while hairy skins with tough ridges not so.  And, the secret of freshness lies at its tip. A quick, neat break means the okra is fresh while a soft and rubbery generally points to staleness.  Continue reading

Posted in Indian, Travel

The Department of Hard-Won, Unexpected, Partial Success

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By Laura Virginia Anderson 

Last week, my friend Priya hosted a dinner party and made an amazing mango mousse. She improvised it using heavy cream, canned mango pulp she had bought at an Indian grocery, sugar, fruit pectin, and lime juice. The result was incredible: the texture of a stovetop pudding married to the flavor of a mango lassi. 

I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so when the weekend arrived, I decided to give it a try. I didn’t have any mango pulp or fruit pectin, but, in a blaze of overconfidence, I felt sure that I could achieve similar results using a couple of ripe mangos and a traditional mousse technique. I peeled the mangos and cut them into chunks, then I puréed them in a blender with four egg yolks, a little sugar, and some lime zest. Meanwhile, I beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt, lime juice, and a little more sugar—so far, so good. Continue reading

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