Monday, October 31, 2011

Puthina Thogayal (Mint Chutney)

This is very easy to make and tastes great with rice or with bread and butter. Great for those sandwiches you want to take on trips. Goes with cucumber,butter or mayonnaise and some pepper. With rice this can be paired with any kootu ( lentil soup) on the side. 

Difficulty level : Easy

Time: 30 min

  • Mint leaves ( 1 bunch)
  • Cilantro ( 1 bunch)
  • 1 medium size onion
  • Urad dhal ( 3-4 tbsp)
  • garlic ( 1-2 pods) - optional
  • red chilly ( 4-6 nos)
  • asafoetida (hing)
  • salt to taste
  • tamarind paste ( 1- 1 1/2 tsp)
  • oil

Method de Preparation
  1. Take a little bit of oil in a pan and roast the urad dhal and the red chillies along with the asafoetida and keep aside.
  2. In the same pan, add a bit more oil and saute the chopped garlic and then the onions. When almost done add the mint to saute just for a minute.
  3. Once both are cooled, blend the first mix first coarsely and then add on the second mix and the tamarind, along with washed cilantro and blend till desired texture is reached ( 30 secs or so). Like a coarse paste.Some people like it a bit crunchy and not too mushy.
  4. Add salt to taste.
  5. Enjoy with rice, chappatis , plain or pita bread.

Sandwiches: Take two slices of bread. One one side spread mayonnaise or butter. The other side spread this. layer with thinly sliced cucumber and sprinkle a bit of pepper. A yummy cold cucumber mint sandwich is ready too! These work great for treks/ drives and stays good for a day without a cooler.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Spicy Chinese Eggplant

I cannot tell enough how much my husband likes Eggplant. If we go to any Asian restaurant and eggplant is on the menu, you can be guaranteed that it will be on our table. The fact that 7 times out of 10 it ends up not being up to the mark, under cooked, not tasty etc. etc. does not deter the Mr. from ordering it yet another time. So much to the point that now we have a rule that he gets to order this only every other time :)

That brings you to this post. I wanted to recreate his much loved Eggplant recipe and after hunting around a bit found this online from food network that I could adapt without using any sauce containing meat or seafood. I also did not deep fry the eggplant, instead sauteed them well. This tastes really good and goes well paired with plain white or sticky rice. So much that even I was willing to accept eggplant was not bad after all :)

Time:  30 min

Difficulty Level: Easy - Medium


  • 2 tbsp vegetarian broth
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce (Stir fry sauce)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp Chinese black vinegar ( I used rice vinegar)
  • 2 tsp plum sauce
  • 4 Chinese eggplants ( 1 pound) stems removed
  • Vegetable oil for sauteing
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 4 dried whole chile peppers
  • 2 green onions, cut into bits
  • chopped cilantro leaves or green onions

Method of Preparation:
  1. Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl; mix well.
  2. Peel the skin partially if you like else just cut the eggplant into 3 inch long strips like french fries. Heat oil at high heat (350 F) and saute these till well cooked, not too mushy and then keep aside.
  3. Place wok over a high heat until hot. Add 1 tablespoon of deep-frying oil and swirl to coat the sides. Add the garlic, ginger, dried chiles and green onion; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the sauce and bring to a simmer. Add the cooked eggplant and stir to coat. Scoop onto a warm serving platter. Serve, garnished with cilantro or green onions. 

Chili Cheese Casserole

You know how sometimes you taste something and you love it and you then file it in the back of your mind but you can't rest until you actually try it out. This is one such recipe. My friend Arlene treated me to this one time at work, she had brought it for lunch. I liked it a lot and ended up asking for the recipe and here it is :) This is really easy to put together and can be made ahead too. Great for those days when you have tons of food in the fridge but would still like to eat something maybe a bit different :)

Time: Prep Time (15 min), Cook Time ( 45 min)

Difficulty level: Easy


  • 4 Poblano chilies (or any big dark green ones)
  • 3 or 4 eggs (depending on size)
  • 1 to 1.5 Cups Milk
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 8oz -10 z cheese – more or less as you like  (Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, Parmesan/Italian as you like)
  • Salt (a bit)

Method of Preparation:
  1. Prep the chilies (split them, clean the seeds and slice them into two). Place them face down and then other side on an oiled pan to cook them some, a saute pan would work well. Grill till cooked, soft and a bit browned.
  2. Mix all the liquids and flour together. Adjust flour if too watery. But it will thicken up as you cook.
  3. Layer half of cheese on bottom of 9x12 glass pan.
  4. Layer with the chilies.
  5. Pour remaining mix of liquid and flour and spices over top.
  6. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top (add more if you like).
  7. Cook in the oven @ 325 for about 40 minutes or until you don’t see the milk as a fluid anymore. Should not be jiggly.

The blandness of the cheese/flour against the spicy peppers is a nice combination. However if you want to make this a more complete meal, go ahead and add any lightly grilled and salted veggies to this mix instead of peppers. Also you can add breadcrumbs if you like some crunchiness.

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