We love baingan at home in all its shapes and forms. One time I remember really, really wanting that last piece of begun bhaja and ending up promising to take my daughter to the movies in return for her claim. That one piece cost me 750 rupees.
This was part of a platter we ate a couple of days ago.
Baingan/Aubergine, small-medium sized long variety, sliced in half, lengthwise
Chili powder + salt dry mixture (1:2)
Lemon zest (optional)
Feta cheese (optional)
Rub the aubergines with the chili salt mixture. Score them with a knife as in the picture. This looks pretty and helps cook it faster too.
Heat your grill pan to almost smoking hot, brush it with a little oil. Place all the aubergines, scored side down on to the pan
Reduce the heat and wait until the purple color has faded across at least half the height of the aubergine. Add a little more oil if it’s all gone. Don’t try to remove or shift the pieces. Press each one down gently.
When each piece is faded all the way to the top, wait another couple of minutes and remove them from the pan.
Serve hot after squeezing on some lemon juice.
You can use slices of round aubergine too. Remember to score.
Sprinkle on some lemon zest and crumbled feta cheese if you want.
With thicker slices of baingan, you can also sprinkle a little water from time to time and cover the pan to allow for the effects of the hot steam.
I love baingan / aubergine in all its forms – bharta, bhaja, with aloo and all the rest. There is though the fact, that I haven’t seen as many variations in flavour as desired.
Here’s a dish Cherie and I ate for lunch. I made this a few days ago and all three of us thought it was delicious enough to do it again, and this time, note down the recipe, something I’m spectacularly bad at.
This dish is buttery, soft and though delicious, can be a bit bitter due to the kasoori methi and mustard seeds used. If you don’t like it that way, try reducing the amounts of these spices.
1 medium sized Baingan / aubergine, diced
Spice mixture – grind to a coarse texture
1 tbsp Saunf / aniseed
1 tbsp Kasoori methi / dried fenugreek leaves
1 tsp Kali mirch / Black peppercorns, whole
1 tsp Rai / Yellow mustard, whole
3 tbsp Butter
Salt to taste
Half a Lemon, juice
Melt butter in a pan
Saute the spice mixture and a little salt for a bit, until aromatic
Add the diced baingan, mix well, so all the dices are coated with the spice
Reduce flame and cook, covered until the baingan is tender, about 7 – 9 minutes usually.
Check and adjust seasoning, add lemon juice, serve hot with rotis.
One of the causes of our ill-health is our attachment to the familiar. For example, if we are to eat choley, it must be with greasy, deep fried, refined-flour bhature and so on. And if we are to eat pizza, it must be dripping with cheese and can only have pepperoni, chicken, paneer or mushrooms on it. Also, we tend to believe that so-called healthy ingredients cannot be tasty or be combined with other foods.
This pizza tasted wonderful and a week later, Indu still tells me how much she loved that pizza. Here’s how easy it was to make.
A pizza has a few basic parts.
Depending on how the toppings are prepped and how much moisture is in your sauce, you want them under or over the cheese.
Base: APF flour, instant yeast, salt, water and milk – I tend to throw the lot together, make a nice smooth dough, let it rise for a bit, then knock it back down, roll it out, lay on the sauce, toppings etc. and that’s that. I also use a little more yeast than is usually recommended.
Sauce: Pureed tomatoes, garlic, freshly ground black pepper, dried basil (because I have a tough time finding fresh), onion powder – I add the tomato puree, pepper and basil and onion powder and slowly cook it for a long time, perhaps an hour or so, adding extra water as required. Over time, the sauce develops a wonderfully complex and deep set of flavours. Remember to season it with a bit of salt before taking it off the flame.
Cheese: I use a blend of cheeses if I have a choice or whatever is available. As much as we love our cheese, remember you love food more and food, is more than just cheese. There are so many flavours in play in a well made pizza. Why smother them with a pile of cheese? Experiment with cheeses and blends of different types and see what works for you. Quality over quantity is worth a shot, yes?
Toppings: Our toppings were anchovies, aubergine and spinach. The spinach was blanched in boiling water, drained well and chopped into bite-sized pieces. The aubergine was thinly sliced, sprinkled with salt, left for 20 minutes, washed an drained. The anchovies were fresh, coated with seasoned flour (dried basil, pepper, onion powder, salt) and shallow fried.
To assemble your pizza, just roll out the flour into whatever size or shape you want, smear the sauce over it, the amount depending on how intensely flavoured it is. Don’t go by having a red-red look to your pizza – if the flavours are right, that’s enough sauce. Lay on the toppings. In this case, we chose to put the cheese next and then the toppings on top of the cheese.
The pizza cooked for 20-25 minutes at 180 degrees in a pre-heated oven. The only ingredient that needed cooking, was the base and the aubergine, the rest being pre-cooked.
The outcome was a wonderful pizza with complex flavours and ‘grown-up’ toppings. We drizzled on a glug or so of some good olive oil to complete the dish.
My bases need some more work, though the rest turned out well. If you have a good recipe for the base, please do share.