sour eggplant curry

spicy sour eggplant curry

Off late, I've been craving everything that tastes sour, especially anything with a citrusy taste or flavor. Cravings are like the insane beast and my relationship with this creature sometimes involves, feeding and nurturing it. I probably unconsciously knew this going in when I picked up these gorgeous baby eggplants that I would indulge in a session of souring things up with the hope that it would entail future moments where I would slurp sour spicy goodness from a big bowl while sitting outside in the sun.

baby eggplants

So I spent my morning with my precious wok, sautéing onions and ginger in hot coconut oil flavored with the heat of dried whole red chilies and fragrant cumin. Then came those cherubic eggplants that sizzled and sputtered as soon as their dark purple skins met the heat of the pan. Finally, I stirred in the coconut milk and lime juice and once the yellow broth came together, I inhaled the scent of the fresh lime juice and knew it was all worth it in the end.

eggplants
hot spicy sour eggplant curry

This sour curry should be served hot with rice or bread or eaten directly. 

sour eggplant curry

sour eggplant curry

yields: 4 servings

ingredients

1lb baby eggplants
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 tablespoon coconut oil
4 dried red chili peppers, whole (I used Kashmiri chili peppers)
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 1/2 cups red onion thinly sliced
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 inch ginger root, peeled and cut into thin strips
1 can/13.66 fluid ounces/403mL light coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
fresh mint leaves to garnish

1. Cut the eggplants crosswise from the bottom but leave the stems attached. Immerse the eggplants in a bowl containing cold water and vinegar to prevent blackening. Keep aside until ready to use
2. Heat the coconut oil in a large wok or saucepan with a lid on medium high for about 30 seconds. Add the chili and cumin to the wok and cook for 15 seconds. Immediately add the onions, turmeric powder and ginger root, stir occasionally and cook for about 4-5 minutes or until the onions turn translucent. At this point, drain the eggplants and add them to the wok, sauté on medium high for about 3 minutes, stir occasionally. The eggplants should have their skins slightly seared.
3. Add the coconut milk, water and salt. Bring the contents to a boil on a medium high flame and the reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook for another 20 minutes or until the eggplants are tender enough that a fork can easily pass through the flesh. Once the eggplant is cooked, fold in the fresh lemon juice. Cook for another minute and remove from the stove. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and serve hot with rice or flat bread.

raw ginger strawberry smoothie

raw ginger strawberry smoothie

Moving is clearly insane, the last time I did a huge move was almost eight years ago and it was just me. This time round, it's the two of us and the dog and I can't just toss things out (I'm a big fan of decluttering, I get anxious otherwise) I need to think about everyone involved, what they love and what they don't. But now all of that is done with and I am focussed on our week cross country ride which is going to be the trip of a lifetime! There's new states to visit, places to see, foods to try out, and I'm a little excited that Snoopy gets to share in this big road trip adventure. I know, I sound crazy but I guess it's what dog (pet) parents get excited about.

strawberries

My kitchen is packed and gone but before it left, I made this delicious berry flavored coconut milk smoothie that packs the sweetness of ripe chubby strawberries and the goodness of raw ginger. There's also a reason behind this drink, I started to feel a raw uneasiness in my throat as the temperatures kept fluctuating in the weather and with the impending move and all other crazy things going on right now, I couldn't afford to be sick. Raw ginger is used as a common ailment in Indian herbal medicine so I figured why not use it to create a spring-themed immune boosting drink. There's fresh coconut milk (I used the So Delicious brand because I personally like the flavor a lot but fresh coconut milk would work well here too) and the strawberries, I used were a bit sweet so I ended up not using any sweeteners (I've listed a suggested amount but feel free to add as much or as little as you like). This smoothie turned out to be great for my throat but it's tasty enough to be served as a drink, especially as the heat waves begin to kick in.

floating strawberries on coconut milk

I did this fun interview with the very sweet Amina of The Paper Plates Blog, check it out if you have a moment to spare. I talk about a lot of things beyond food and maybe, my obsession with the Game of Thrones books. 

Also,  here are some of my favorites links that I'm drooling over;
  • Linda of Call Me Cupcake made a sour cream rhubarb cupcakes (there's a ginger cream frosting that has poached rhubarb on it!!!!).
  • Climbing Grier's Mountain's Lauren, made this hummus shrimp loaded naan pizza that is simply amazing!
  • Lindsey of Dolly and Oatmeal made this gorgeous sauté that's sits on a bed of chickpea and chive mash. This is one, to see and believe, eat!
  • This pickled chard by Love and Lemons is what's spring should be about.

strawberry coconut milk smoothie with raw ginger

raw ginger strawberry smoothie

yields: 2 generous servings

ingredients

1 1/2 cups coconut milk, chilled, unsweetened, low-fat (I used the So Delicious brand)
1/2 cup strawberries, fresh, diced in half
1/2 teaspoon ginger root, peeled and freshly minced (minced as tiny as possible)
2-3 teaspoons palm sugar (optional; I didn't use add any)

1. Add all the ingredients to a blender (you can also use an immersion blender) and mix until all the ingredients are completely combined. The sugar is optional, I didn't add any as the strawberries were very sweet to begin with). 
2. Pour in chilled drinking glasses over ice cubes or crushed ice, serve immediately. (This best drunk fresh as soon as it is prepared).

Disclaimer: I didn't receive any financial compensation or products from So Delicious and all opinions stated are solely mine. 

cracked wheat and coconut milk porridge

cracked porridge with coconut milk and goji berries

Breakfast during the week was and still remains really simple for me. As a kid, it had to be quick so I wouldn't miss the school bus and now it's a moment sandwiched between the gym and work. But I still keep it light and nutritious because breakfast is supposed to be one of the most important meals that sustains us through the day. I often get asked what a traditional Indian breakfast would include but the answer is not an easy one. You can have some many different options depending on which part of the country you visit, each meal reflecting the unique characteristics of that region and what is grown there. One might sweet jalebis (a fried funnel cake like pastry soaked in sugar syrup) served with milk in the North or idlis (steamed rice and lentil cakes) in the South, the options are as endless as they are diverse. You will also find eggs, like my North Indian style scrambled eggs that are spiced, cooked and served with freshly toasted slices of buttered bread.

cracked wheat

This is another one of my favorite breakfast items from the Northern region of India. Cracked wheat or daliya is similar to stone cut oatmeal in structure and shape. As the name suggests, the wheat kernels are cracked and fragmented bits of wheat. Cracked wheat is however different from bulgur, the latter being much finer and smaller in size. I remember large pots of the wheat kernels in paternal grandmother's kitchen being cooked with water till they were tender and then fresh whole milk would be stirred into it and lightly sweetened with sugar. Piping hot bowls of the porridge would then be served and they would be gulped down hungrily.  

cinnamon and goji berries

My recipe here is very different, I use lightened coconut milk to bathe the cooked wheat kernels and I flavor it with cinnamon. I also like to add dried goji berries but you are free to add whatever type of fruit or berry you desire. I personally prefer my porridges to be less sweet so feel free to play around with the amount of sweetener options listed in the recipe. I like the taste of both honey or brown sugar here, so you can use either depending on what you prefer.

cracked wheat and coconut milk porridge

cracked wheat & coconut milk porridge

yields: 2 servings

ingredients

1/2 cup (3 2/5 ounces) cracked wheat
1 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar / 2 tablespoons honey  
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, freshly ground
1 can (403ml) of low-fat coconut milk
2 tablespoons dried goji berries (unsweetened, preferably)

1. Place the cracked wheat and water in a medium-sized stockpot and heat on a medium high flame. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the wheat kernels are completely tender. Remove the stockpot from the stove. The mixture will become slightly thick.
2. Fold the rest of the ingredients into the cooked cracked wheat kernels. Taste and adjust the sweetness if necessary. 
3. Place the stockpot back on the stove and heat on medium-low flame to a gentle simmer for 2 minutes, do not allow the porridge to boil. Remove from stove and serve hot.

yogurt and coconut curried mussels

Mussels

Back in Bombay we ate plenty of seafood, probably about two to three times a week. Fresh fish would be delivered right to our doorstep by a local fisherwoman with whom my mom would always bargain for a better deal. They would go back and forth with each other trying to get the most of the deal that was to be struck between them. I think this was also probably how I learned to haggle, though not as efficiently. I would excitedly watch the assortment of fresh fish, shrimp, and crabs that filled her large basket. On some days we would eat clams stewed in broth while on other days, pan-fried mackerel seasoned with a concoction of spices. Oceans away here in D.C. we are lucky enough to have a fresh seafood market and I really do need to take more advantage of this gem. It's nice to have a source where you can go and literally "fish through the fish" and pick out what you want for a good price.

Spring Blossoms
Onion and Forsythia

On our latest trip to the market, we picked up a fresh bag of mussels in addition to a bushel of freshly steamed crabs. It turned out we bought way too many crabs for three people. I was so excited to cook the mussels, that off they went into the stockpot as soon as we reached home. This is a Goan-based recipe that I use quite often based on my mother's original version that I've modified and changed a little along the way. It has all the goodness of a rich and flavorful Indian curry but much lighter.

My kitchen filled up with the aroma of the sautéing onions, ginger, and garlic while the spices blended in. The mussels simmered and cooked in vinegar and coconut milk and by the time the yogurt was folded in, there were some hungry faces at the table. But there was still had a second or two before we could dive into our bowls, the mussels needed a splash of fresh lime juice and a little cilantro to freshen up and brighten the flavors. Once the mussels were served and devoured and the broth all gone, I knew that another trip to the market might happily be in my future a little sooner than I had anticipated.

Bread and Limes
Mussels and Grated Ginger
Mussels in Yogurt Broth

steamed mussels in yogurt broth

yields: 4 servings

ingredients

2 1/2 lbs mussels
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium size red onion, finely minced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 teaspoon ginger root, freshly grated
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin, ground
1/4 teaspoon cloves, ground
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
1/2 teaspoon kosher sea-salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 can light coconut milk
1/2 cup white rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3-4 fresh/dried curry leaves
1/2 cup plain non-fat greek yogurt
juice of 2 freshly squeezed limes
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped

1. Wash and scrub the mussels clean under cold water, remove any beards if present and keep the cleaned mussels on ice. 
2. In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil on a medium flame. Sauté the onions, garlic and ginger for about 3 minutes or until the onions turn translucent. Add the turmeric, cumin cloves, nutmeg, salt, and pepper and cook for another minute with constant stirring. 
3. Stir the coconut milk, vinegar, and curry leaves into the onion mixture.  Fold in the cleaned mussels and cover the stockpot with a lid. Bring the broth to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce the flame to a gentle simmer.
4. Beat the yogurt in a small bowl and mix it along with the lime juice into the broth. Taste the broth and season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Discard any mussels that did not open during the cooking.
5. Garnish the mussels with the cilantro. Serve hot with warm toasted bread or plain rice.