Sunday, September 16, 2007

An Indian Meal: Beigan Bharta, Spiced Cauliflower, and Laila's Spiced Fresh Beans

I really enjoy Indian food. Houston has some great restaurants but it's fun to cook some of my favorites at home. My wonderful friend Laila has really spoiled me--she always brings new dishes for me to try or has me over for chai and snacks. She also shares her recipes with me. Thanks Laila! Yum!

Perusing various blogs, I found a great monthly blog event, Think Spice. This month, mustard seeds have the spotlight. Naturally, I thought of Indian cuisine and decided to make two of Laila's dishes, spiced cauliflower and beans, that are spiced with brown mustard seeds. I love the "pop" that they make in a hot pan. :) Both of these dishes are really nice. In addition to mustard seeds, the cauliflower is spiced with cumin, tumeric, coriander, and kitchen king masala powder--giving it a nice heat. This recipe is also great with potatoes and peas.

I love these spiced beans with freshly shelled black-eyed peas that are available for a large portion of the year here in Houston. Laila brought back a special spice blend from India that she has ground when she is back home. It has over 20 different ingredients (I'll try to get a list from her--or at least a sampling of the key spices). And it is good! It's not very hot, but has a very nice flavor. As with the cauliflower, brown mustard seeds and cumin are toasted in a hot pan to start off the recipe. Pop!

Beigan Bharta does not have mustard seeds but I absolutely love eggplant and this is probably one of my top favorite Indian dishes. And so I had to make it to go along with the other dishes! This recipe is great--easy to make, and so flavorful, and the perfect amount of heat. My mouth is watering! Continue for Beigan Bharta, Indian- Spiced Cauliflower, and Laila's Spiced Beans recipes.

Beigan Bharta

2 large eggplants
2 small green chilis (thai/asian), very finely minced (I used 1/2 of a serrano today)

1/2 onion, very finely diced or pulsed in food processor
2 garlic cloves, very finely minced or processed to paste (can use 1t garlic paste)
1 teaspoon ginger paste (approx. 1/2 inch grated ginger if using fresh)
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (don't use a mix--straight chili powder, cayenne is ok)
1 teaspoon salt
3 roma tomatos, pureed in processor/blender or finely diced
2 tablespoons half and half (or any cream/milk)

2 tablespoons cilantro
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground coriander seed
1/2 lime, juice

1. Bake eggplant until soft: Drizzle with EVOO and place cut side down on baking sheet and bake until tender--scoop out flesh and reserve. OR if you don't mind the skins, cut eggplants in slices, drizzle with oil, bake, and use entire eggplant.
2. Heat several tablespoons oil in saute pan.

3. Add green chilis, onion paste, garlic paste, and ginger paste. Cook over medium hi, constantly stirring. (I like to put my onion, garlic, ginger, and chilis in my mini-chop and puree them together, then add to saute pan).
4. Add cumin, red chili powder, and salt.
5. Cook until onion is very soft, adding several tablespoons of water to pan to prevent charring and add steam.
6. Add tomatoes and half and half.

7. Add eggplant and cilantro and coriander.
8. Mash eggplant as it cooks--don't add water.

9. Cover and simmer.
10. After finished cooking, squeeze juice from 1/2 a lime over and stir.

Indian-spiced Cauliflower (or potatoes or peas)

1 head cauliflower (3-4 cups)
1/4 teaspoon brown mustard seed
1/4 teaspoon cumin seed
1/4 onion, diced very finely (or pureed)
1 tablespoon tomato paste, heaping tablespoon
1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon kitchen king masala powder (heaping teaspoon)
2 tablespoons cilantro

1. Heat oil in pan on high.
2. Add mustard and cumin seeds; toast.
3. Add onion and brown, stirring constantly until soft.
4. Turn heat to low. Add tomato paste; stir.
5. Add salt, tumeric, coriander, masala powder; stir. Add a bit of water to make a paste.
6. Add cauliflower (or potato) and mix.
7. Add cilantro.

8. Add several tablespoons water; cover and cook on low until soft.

Laila's Spiced Fresh black-eyed Peas or Beans (very small red beans)

1 pound fresh black-eyed peas (about 2 cups)

1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seed
1/2 small onion, very finely chopped or processed into paste
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne, red chili powder (or to taste)
1 teaspoon Laila's spice mix (very generous teaspoon)
1 teaspoon sugar

2 Tablespoons flaked, unsweetened coconut blended in blender --optional (I like it without)
salt, to taste

1. Warm 2-3 tablespoons oil in saute pan. Add mustard and cumin seeds. Cook until they "pop" over medium high.
2. Add onion and brown well.
3. Add beans; stir; add spices. Saute.

4. Add enough water to cook beans (approx. 1 cup) and barely cover, or a bit more. Cover pan with a plate and add water to top of the plate.
5. Reduce heat and simmer until beans are done, 45 min. to 1 hour. (The longer the better--let's the spices meld)
6. Serve with rice.


sunita said...

That's a lovely meal you've made :) thanks for sending it over to grace my blog.

joey said...

That sounds delicious! And like something I want to make for my lunch tomorrow :)

Edaline said...

Well written article.