Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Baigan ka Raita (Eggplant made in Yogurt)

Baigan ka Raita (Eggplant made in Yogurt) is a dish I recently learned from my mother-in-law.  She is visiting now and so I have several recipes that need to be posted.  Unfortunately, there are more photos of recipes than I have time to write up.  However, because this was so great, I am skipping some others that were planned and going straight to this.  It's really a perfect recipe for achi bivis, new and old.  In fact, I've already made it twice in 7 days...  It has a bit of a baba ghanoush taste to it because of the eggplant -- the main differences being that this is made with yogurt and Indian/Pakistani spices, instead of straight eggplant and tahini.  It is great as a side dish, but some people can enjoy it as a main dish.  It is also completely meatless!  A new family favorite here.

Begin with a large eggplant, cut into tiny cubes.

Put everything in a large pot.

Chop up 6 cloves of garlic and throw it in your pot.

Fill pot with enough water to cover the eggplant (it really does not take very much, just until the eggplant floats).

Bring to a boil and cook for 30 minutes on medium-high heat, uncovered.

Stir your eggplant and cook until most/all of the water has evaporated (pictured above).

Remove from pot and mash with a fork.

Finely chop 1 small onion (or half a medium sized onion) and put in a large pan with 3 Tablespoons of vegetable oil.

Cook on high heat until onions are golden brown.

When onions are golden, add 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed powder, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder, 1 & 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and eggplant from your bowl.

Fry for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and let cool.  At this point, you can measure how much you have or if you have good estimation skills, you can eyeball this part.

Look at your eggplant.  Take that amount, plus half of that amount in yogurt and put in a separate bowl (pictured above).  Add 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed powder and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder.  Mix well together.

Next, pour your eggplant mixture into the yogurt mixture and slowly combine it together by hand.

Lastly, for my favorite part, the baghar!  If you don't remember how to do a baghar, check it out under the Masoor ki Daal recipe.  Basically, just take a small pan, 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil, 4 round whole red chilis, and 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed, and cook on high heat until brown.  Then quickly pour it on top of your dish, yelling "Baghar!!  Baghar!!!"  Stir.

Garnish with 1/4 cup of cilantro leaves and 1-2 chopped green chilis.  Serve cold  or at room temperature with naan.

Enjoy! :)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Khichri (Rice & Lentils)

Khichri (Rice & Lentils) is a very mild rice and lentil dish.  It contains almost no spices and is highly palatable for someone who has no spice tolerance (common in the U.S.).  Generally, it is served for anyone having digestive pains or needing to eat something bland for whatever reason.  However, my husband and I enjoy it as a regular meal and serve it with various relishes.  It's extremely easy to make and is maybe the equivalent of "macaroni and cheese" when compared to U.S. comfort foods.  You wouldn't really serve it for guests, but you would make it for your family occasionally.

When I first married into a Pakistani family, I remember I had zero spice tolerance.  It was rather difficult for me to eat my mother-in-law's food and I felt terrible because I had been raised to finish all the food on my plate, in typical American fashion.  Somehow I got through it and have since learned to love spicy food, especially hers :).  She was kind enough to make me Khichri, but for some odd reason I thought it had chicken in it and I was so sick from eating so much spicy food that I had negative associations with Khichri for about 5 years... Until I made it for my husband when he was recovering from surgery, I finally gave it another chance.  Surprise, surprise, it's not made with chicken, and it is in fact, delicious.  *Sigh*...  Oh, how I wish I could go back in time with the knowledge I have now.  :)

To make Khichri, rinse several times and then soak 1 cup of basmati rice with 1 cup of red lentils for 15 minutes in a bowl.

Slice 1 small onion (or half a large onion) and put it in a medium saucepan with 1/2 cup of vegetable oil and 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds.

Cook on high heat until onions are golden brown.

Drain the rice and lentils and add them to your pot.  Stir fry for a minute.

Add ~1/2 Tablespoon of salt and 2 cups of water.

Cover and keep on low heat for approximately 20-25 minutes (until rice and lentils are soft).

Butter & Achar
Sirkay ki Piyaz
Serve with garlic achar (Indian pickled preserves), sliver of butter per serving, and sirkay ki piyaz (pearl onions in vinegar).  You can buy achar at Indian/Pakistani grocery stores.  And I'll make another post sometime on how to make sirkay ki piyaz.  :)

Enjoy! :)