Stuffed Brinjals

Brinjals are Indian eggplants. They are much smaller than the regular eggplant or the baby eggplant that you find in the regular grocery stores. Brinjals are also known as aubergines. They look like this and this and are quite delicious. Kids hate them. As I once did.

Stuffed Brinjals
An original recipe

6 small Indian brinjals
2 large red potatoes, sliced like french fries
1 large clove garlic
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
1/8 cup roasted sesame seeds (or subsitute with tahini)
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
pinch asafoetida
1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 blobs of tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder**optional
1/2 teaspoon garam masala (any will do)**optional
1 teaspoon tamarind extract
salt to taste
1/2 cup oil

Who said this was low cal? Not me!!

Make a paste from the peanuts, sesame seeds and garlic in a blender, adding about 1 cup water.
Add the tamarind extract, coriander powder, cumin powder, some turmeric powder and salt to this paste.
Slice the brinjals as if you were going to quarter them but don't cut through to the end, so that each brinjal just kind of opens up.
Stuff the brinjals with this paste. Leave some aside for the sauce.
Heat the oil and toss in the mustard seeds.
When they start spluttering, add the asafoetida, cumin seeds and turmeric powder
Add the sliced potatoes and fry till they are cooked.
Remove the potatoes and attempt to drain the oil on a paper towel. Season with salt.
Drop the stuffed brinjals into the oil.
Add the rest of the paste and the tomato paste.
Add the chilli powder and garam masala.
Cover and cook over low flame until the brinjals are tender, stirring from time to time.
Add water if the sauce starts thickening and drying up.
Just before serving, stir in the fried potatoes and garnish with some fresh chopped cilantro, if you have any.

Apparently brinjals are stocked with vitamin B and its relatives. As well as potassium, iron and zinc. They are also an excellent source of fibre. But they are like the potato: they absorb oil. Since there is a fair amount of oil in this recipe and then you have peanuts as well as sesame seeds, the fat content in this recipe is quite high. One trick to eat less is to up the heat. Yes, add more chilli powder. Try this with hot rotis or pitas or nan.

Indian Food in Orlando, Florida

We went to Mickeyland for the second time in 2 years. I got my fill of the rides in the aircraft itself. We were bumped around for more than an hour. The last visit was just as bad. I remember the last time: we made our descent towards Orlando in a thunderstorm, the lights in the aircraft went off and the plane rocked from side to side. All the adults were screaming for their loved one or their Mom. I screamed for both. All the kids, however, were laughing. Well, they were headed for the parks!

I found a wonderful Indian restaurant on Rt 192 in Kissimmee called New Punjab Indian Restaurant. We ordered masala lamb and methi chicken. Both dishes were excellent and I would seek out that restaurant again, should we ever head back to Orlando. I've had more than my fill of both Orlando and Disney, though.

Another restaurant worth mentioning is Thai Thani which is right across from Sea World. It has terrific ambience and the food is excellent, too.

Memories of Versova and Handy Tip #1

I don't remember how I found this site but stumble upon it I did...It's so odd. The pictures are my memories but the pictures are not mine. Strange. But then again not so strange. Every sixth person in the world is an Indian! Here is the web site I am so enthralled by: The Bombay Travels Scrapbook

Kudos to Ramona and Noel for their beautiful web site capturing the very essence of Bombay. And, Pune. Amazing but Pune University is also etched in my memories!! As are Chitale Bandhu!!

Some Handy Tips
That Your Mother Did Not Tell You

Handy Tip #1: Optimizing a can of Tomato Paste
Ever needed to use just a couple of spoonfuls of that super thick tomato paste? Like from the small Contadina Tomato Paste cans? Then stored the can as is in the 'figelator', forgotten about it and discovered it only on the next garbage day when it is looking so sorry that you don't even want to touch it again?

For those few spoonfuls, you end up throwing away almost all of the can of tomato paste??

I know I used to. Most of my friends did, too. No more!

All you have to do now is use the quantity you need and then spoon the rest of the paste onto a plate in large blobs about an inch in diameter, if you can get them to be round! Put the plate in the freezer till you are done cooking whatever you needed the tomato paste for. Make it a habit to do this as soon as possible otherwise the can will end up in the refrigerator with an ad-hoc lid. The blobs will be frozen by the time you are done cooking. Save them in freezer bags and use one or more blobs as and when you need them. You will waste less tomato paste. You will also buy fewer cans of tomato paste as one tomato can will go much farther than it did before.

This is America, who cares? I do. Wasting food is criminal. I cringe when I go to Denny's on Tuesdays and the waitress tells me I can order whatever I want for my daughter; after all, it's 'Kids Eat Free on Tuesdays' and I won't have to worry about having spent hard-earned $$ on food she did not want to eat. I wonder how many people order stuff their kids don't really want or need. I wonder how much of it goes from the kitchen to the table to the trash-can. I wonder how many starving children it would have fed.

If you still remember what this post was about, I will be adding more Handy Tips as I go along.

Handy Tip#2: Making Your Herbs Last Longer

Happy New Year 2004

I can't believe I haven't posted for more than 3 months. I have been busy busy busy. What have I been doing? I wish I knew! Cooking? Definitely! A family has to eat delicious Indian food, you know!! Sigh! This reminds me of a conversation that took place in my living room the other day...

The Lagaan CD was being played for the millionth time and once more. As 'Ghanana ghanana' died down, my daughter decided to let loose the questions that were building up in her mind.

Her: Why did the people in the song want it to rain? Because they wanted to get wet and then sing in the rain?
Hubby: Kind of...but they really wanted it to rain cos they needed the water for their crops.
What is it with these IIT folks? Why can't they talk to a 5 year old in a language that she might understand?!!!
Her: Daddy, what are crops?
Hubby: Crops are the plants you grow. Like corn, rice, wheat, beans, sugarcane...all those people in the song are farmers and they grow crops.
Her: So they grow crops because they did not have food to eat?
Hubby: They keep some of the crops for food and they sell the rest . They grow crops for a living.
Ayayay! Living? Does she even know what living is???
Her: Daddy, what does for a living mean?
Arrrrghhh! What is he up to?? What is he even thinking??
Hubby: A living is what you do to earn money...
Me (to the rescue): Like your class teacher. She teaches for a living. Your bus driver. She drives the bus for a living. They get money for doing that and so they can write checks and pay their bills and buy food to eat.
Her: Daddy, what do you do for a living? Are you a father?
Me: He does not get paid to do that, sweetie. So that's not his living. He works with computers and does programming so he's a computer programmer and that's what he does for a living.
Her: I get it!! The farmers grow crops for a living. Daddy programs computers for a living! Mumma, what do you do for a living!! I know! I know! Mumma's a cook!! A really really good cook!!

There was no point getting worked up, especially when it was followed by so much heartfelt and genuine praise. Oh well!!

I happened to be making a very refreshing beetroot salad at the without further ado, here's the recipe:

Beet Salad in yogurt
Spice level: A little zing is always nice.

  • 1 bunch of beetroot, boiled
  • 2-3 tsps of oil
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • pinch asafoetida
  • 1/8 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/8 tsp urad dal**optional
  • 1 thai chilli or long hot pepper, de-seeded and split down its length**optional
  • 4-5 curry leaves
  • (kadipatta)**optional
  • 1/4 tsp juice of freshly grated ginger
  • 1 cup low-fat yogurt
  • salt to taste

  1. Peel and grate the boiled beetroots. (Discard the leaves. I have no clue what to do with beetroot leaves. I save them every time thinking that I will try cooking them but by the time I get to them, they look awful and very uninspiring)
  2. Heat the oil in a small pan.
  3. Add the mustard seeds. When they start crackling, add the asafoetida. If the oil gets very hot, simply turn the heat off completely.
  4. Add cumin seeds
  5. Add the hot peppers/chilli and the curry leaves. Watch out for splattering hot oil. I usually toss these in and cover the pan quickly to avoid the splatter and an oily mess.
  6. Add the urad dal. (White lentils)
  7. Take the pan off the flame and add the grated beetroot to this yummy flavored oil or the other way around.
  8. Add the salt.
  9. Squeeze the juice out of the ginger and add just the juice.
  10. Add the yogurt and mix well.
  11. Chill well before serving.

It's really a delight. I grew up hating beetroot. Its very color put me off. Plus it was always so tasteless. I wondered what the adults found so inspiring in something so bland and yukky. It's an excellent source of iron. It is noted for being more easily assimilated by the human body than man-made forms of iron. I remember making this salad very frequently to help boost my Mom's low hemoglobin numbers.

Try it! According to the health experts and nutritionists, the more natural color you have in your diet, the healthier it is. The color of this salad is a rich vibrant deep pink. It's gorgeous to look at and invigorating for the taste buds!! Indian Food Rocks! It does!!