Dental Eggplants and Faux Chicken Tikka

My daughter wanted to know how to get an eggplant. I told her that all we needed to do was to get hold of an egg and plant it. I was immediately treated to one of those looks so I decided to tell her the truth this time: "Eggplant is a vegetable that farmers grow. They sell it to the grocery stores and we buy it from there." Uh-uh. That was not what she meant. She wanted to know about "the eggplant that Daddy got in his mouth." She meant implant.

Dentists, dental surgeons and dental surgery has consumed us lately. A few years ago, a not-so-scrupulous dentist who shares our last name drilled into my husband's jaw bone while doing a routine root canal procedure. Despite the last name bond, he didn't share this information even though my husband was in a lot of pain. He proceeded to fill it with a material that should not have been used. Two years later, the tooth is lost and we're lucky that there is no serious infection of the jaw bone or grave bone loss. The tooth had to be replaced by a titanium implant in a very expensive process spread over a good 6-9 months. First the titanium screw is fitted into the empty socket; then after about 3 months or so, a peg or abuttment is fitted on the implant; and finally, the crown is fitted on the peg. We're in the middle stage. The current dental surgeon is simply amazing. Thank God for that!

Because of the dental surgery, we were all eating soup and soft foods in complete sympathy with what my poor husband was enduring. Once he was back to solids, we couldn't wait to treat our taste buds to some extra spicy chicken tikka.

Faux Chicken Tikka
Spice Level: High!

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 1/2 inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 large flake of garlic, grated
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 2-3 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • 3-4 teaspoons Shan Chicken Tikka masala powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3-4 tablespoons oil
  1. Mix grated ginger, grated garlic, Shan Chicken Tikka masala powder, yogurt and lemon juice in a bowl.
  2. Put the boneless chicken breasts in this mixture and marinate for about half an hour. An hour or longer, in the refrigerator is better.
  3. Heat the oil in a frying pan and drop the cumin seeds into it when warm.
  4. Put the chicken breasts and all the yummy smelling sauce in the pan and cook over medium to low heat.
  5. Turn the chicken over from time to time and allow all the sauce to thicken.
  6. This really spicy dish is ready when all the sauce has dried up and the chicken cooked thoroughly.

If you don't have Shan Chicken Tikka masala, you can use some other garam masala. Shan's spice mixes can be found in most Indian and Pakistani grocery stores.

Never Stop Running and Fish Pakodas

Sigh. I made the mistake of allowing my 6 year old to watch the 18th Kids' Choice Awards on Nickelodeon against my better judgement. Even deeper sigh. We were up till 2 a.m. last night because my daughter's calves and ankles hurt. We are not a pill-popping family so we did the entire regimen: sit up and massage your own legs, hot water bottle (well, hot gel-pack), Ben-Gay, some more massage, Reiki. I was very close to reaching out for Tylenol when she blurted out that she didn't stop running because she wanted to defeat the "little person in her head who kept telling her to stop running." Huh? But, since Will Smith told all kids to "keep running" on Nick's annual show, she thought she would be giving up when things got tough and kept on running...I desperately want to throw something at Will Smith. It's bad enough that we lost an hour on Saturday night due to Daylight Saving Time; I was up through most of Sunday night, too.

It was the thought of delicious fish pakodas that kept me going through today. Fish pakodas? Yes! That, too, with yogurt. There is a belief in some parts of India that fish and yogurt don't go well together and is a recipe for a stomach upset. I pooh-pooh the thought because I stand testimony to the fact that no stomach upset occurs. While growing up, Sunday lunch used to be spicy kingfish curry, which I would tone down with home-made yogurt. No stomach upset ever ensued; just bliss!!

Fish Pakodas
An IFR original recipe

fish pakodas
  • 3 fillets of catfish (or tilapia)
  • 1 cup of besan
  • 1/2 cup of yogurt
  • 1 egg-white
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice, preferably fresh
  • pinch of ajwainoptional
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic, grated
  • salt to taste
  • oil for shallow frying

  1. Cut the fish fillets into nugget size bites
  2. Mix the besan, yogurt, egg-white, lemon juice, ajwain, chilli powder, ginger, garlic and salt into a thick batter
  3. Marinate the fish in this batter for about half an hour, preferably in the fridge
  4. Heat the oil in a shallow frying pan; make sure it is not too hot or smoking
  5. Gently put the fish nuggets, coated generously with the batter, into the oil and fry each side until golden brown, approximately about 3-4 minutes each side on medium heat. Less if the fillets are on the thinner side.
  6. Drain as much oil off the fish pakoda by placing them on a paper towels
  7. If you have chaat masala, sprinkle some on the pakodas and for the best flavor, eat while the pakodas are hot!!

We loved these fish pakodas which were inspired by 100% vegetarian grated onion pakodas - no egg or fish. I usually have a fair amount of batter left after the fish is done, so I add grated onion to this mixture - about half an onion or so. Since the onions are usually juicy and release their own juices, I add about 1/4 cup more of besan to prevent the batter from becoming too runny. Drop small quantities of this mixture into the oil and fry till golden brown. The ajwain gives it a delicious aroma and the chaat masala adds a tang to the overall excellent spicy taste flavor.