Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Aloo Anday ka Saalan (Potato and Hard Boiled Egg Curry) #2

A very simple recipe to use for daily cooking, I make this a couple of times a month. I typically serve this with a wet daal or a simple vegetable dish such as bitter greens or karela. The gravy, potato, and egg taste delicious mashed into plain rice. You could even serve this as a solo dish and set out a selection of pickles and a raita on the table. This saalan (wet curry) also goes well with roti.

Oil has been poured off but you can still see some oil in the finished dish or this wouldn't be a proper saalan!

For this dish you need 5 hard boiled eggs peeled and cut in half. I discovered a couple of years ago that if I steam hard boiled eggs on medium heat for 14 minutes, then remove them from the steam and let them rest for 15-20 minutes, they turn out with a perfectly cooked yellow yolk.

In addition you need 1 large potato or 2-3 small potatoes peeled and cut into wedges that are similar in size to the hard boiled egg halves.

The saalan:

1/2 cup oil (oil will be poured off later)
1 tsp whole cumin seeds (sabut zeera)
1 medium onion sliced thinly
1 heaping tbs ginger-garlic paste
2-3 finely chopped green chiles (I ground these with the ginger-garlic paste)
2 large ripe, juicy tomatoes finely chopped, or 2 cups of roughly pureed tomato
1/4 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
1/2 tsp red chile powder
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tbs coriander powder
2 cups water
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 pinch Shan Curry Powder or any Kitchen King Masala
1 pinch dried methi rubbed between palms (qasoori methi)

Heat oil in pot and add in cumin seeds. As they sizzle toss in the sliced onions. Stir onions frequently on high heat. When you see that a lot of moisture has evaporated from them, turn down the heat and allow the onions to cook until they are golden. Turn up the heat and add in the ginger garlic paste and finely chopped green chile. When the ginger garlic paste changes color from pale to golden, add in the tomato. Stir tomato on high heat for a while. Add in your turmeric, red chile powder, cumin, and coriander. Cook this gravy for a while until all of the moisture has evaporated from the tomatoes and you have a paste with all of the oil on top of it. Remove from the heat and pour off as much oil as you can without losing any gravy. (You can discard the oil or re-use it in a red meat curry dish.) Put pot back on the stove. Set the flame to high and add in the potato. Stir for a moment, then pour in the water.  Stir in the salt. Allow this to come to a boil. Cover the pan and turn the heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are completely cooked. When they potatoes are cooked, turn off the heat. Toss in the curry powder and the dried methi and stir. Add in the hard boiled egg halves and gently shake the pot to allow the top of the eggs to get covered lightly in gravy. Ideally they shouldn't be completely submerged so that they are visible and look pretty. If you care to make this daily dish fancier, pour the gravy in a flat rimmed serving dish, then arrange the eggs in the dish, spooning some gravy on top of each egg. The eggs should sit in the gravy for 5-10 minutes so that they pick up the saalan's flavor.

For an alternative alu anday recipe that does not use the typical tomato-onion masala, see here.

Served with healthy brown basmati rice with the gravy mixed and mashed in. Yummy to eat with fingers!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Baingan ka raita (Cooling yoghurt with fried eggplant)

This is an excellent raita to serve at parties or on any day that you have made a pullao or biryani. It is fancy and takes some time to prepare, so it is not an everyday raita. (We have plain yoghurt with daily meals, anyhow.)

You will have to make this raita in three steps.

Step 1) Roast you masala: Here you will prepare a red chile powder-cumin masala. The quantity I give here is more than you will need for one raita recipe. I prepare small amounts of this masala to keep on hand for most of my raita recipes.

2 heaping tbs whole cumin seeds
2 tbs powdered cumin
1 tsp red chile powder.

Heat a flat frying pan. Add in the whole cumin seeds and stir frequently, allowing them to color, but taking care not to burn them. Pour them into a wide bowl and keep aside, allowing them to cool. Turn off the flame under the pan, but when you have just poured out the whole cumin seeds and the pan is still very hot, put in the cumin and chile powder. Stir these with a wooden spoon for a few moments, just allowing them to release their oil and fragrance and wake up their flavor. Put this in another bowl and keep aside until it is cool.

When the whole cumin seeds are completely cool, add them into your spice grinder (mine is a small coffee bean grinder) and coarsely crush the seeds by pulsing the button a few times. There should be large bits of seeds and some whole seeds in the powder.

Pour these powders into separate storage containers, and keep them for use in raitas.

Eggplant cubes before frying
Step 2) Frying your eggplant: Select two medium sized, young eggplants. The less seeds, the better. My farmer's market has great eggplant right now, so this is why I made this recipe today.

Chop eggplant into bite sized cubes. The size I do is about 1 inch cubed. Keep aside.

You will need about 1/2 cup flour with a pinch of salt in it. Put this inside of a deep bowl.

Salted flour in a deep bowl for lightly dredging the cubes.

Pour about 2-3 cups oil into a vessel for deep frying. When the oil is hot, quickly toss about 1.5 cups of eggplant cubes in the flour and remove them, tapping off the excess flour, then putting them quickly into the oil. Fry these cubes until they are nicely golden and set them aside on paper towels. Repeat this in batches.

Frying the eggplant cubes
The flour helps keep the eggplant in shape. The good thing about this raita is that you can prepare the eggplant cubes earlier in the day, and keep them out of the fridge on the countertop and they will stay in good shape. You want to add these to the yoghurt mixture just before serving, otherwise moisture can seep out of them and discolor the raita. Even if you plan to fry the eggplant cubes and serve the raita right away, you MUST keep the cubes to the side until they are completely cooled. Do not add hot eggplant cubes to your yoghurt for this recipe.

Keep the fried cubes aside. They can sit out for half a day.
Step 3) The raita...making it all come together

4 cups of plain full fat yoghurt, which is a 32 oz. tub. I prefer Dannon brand since it only contains milk and yoghurt culture. There are no thickeners.
1/3 cup whole milk
1 tsp plus a pinch of salt (or to taste)
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp chaat masala from a box
1/4 tsp white pepper
Ingredients for the raita
1 tsp coursely crushed cumin seed powder (see above)
1 tsp roasted cumin powder-chile powder mix (see above

Mix all of this together well.

Add in these vegetables:

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
2 finely chopped green chiles
1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped onion*
1 tomato, seeds and pulp removed, finely chopped

When you have mixed all of these things together, you can keep this in the fridge until you are ready to serve. At serving time, add in your fried eggplant cubes.

*If the onion seems strong tasting, soak the onion in cold water for 20 mins while you cut the other ingredients, then strain it and add it to the yoghurt. This will temper the sharpness of it so that it won't overpower your light raita.