Smoked Aubergine Mash (Baingan Bharta)

 

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I always think it’s funny how there are foods we used to hate as kids but now love as adults. Not that I consider myself an adult. I see myself more as a tall kid. Am I aware that 5ft 2 is not technically tall? Sure I am, but lets not ponder on that.

I was a good eater as a child (my childhood photos reveal that) and I’d like to think I wasn’t particularly fussy. Granted I had some weird foodie combinations that I loved but who didn’t? Crisp and coleslaw sandwiches were a must whilst watching cartoons on a Saturday morning. Any crisp would do, though crisps made from maize or corn were preferable. Mango pickle mixed with yoghurt was a regular “snack”, oh and I could eat mountains of black olives and pickled onions at any given time. Perhaps I was an odd child…please don’t judge me. 

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But I digress. Generally, I ate very well and there were just a few things I detested which oddly, I now love! Any sort of seafood was a no go, however Chingri Malai Kari is now one of my absolute favourite dishes. I found bitter melon revolting growing up but now regularly crave it. I couldn’t stand the smell of anything cooked in ghee but now it’s a staple in my everyday cooking. It’s odd isn’t it?

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Baigan Bharta also featured on the loathe list but now I can’t fathom how I lived so many years without it! Spicy, smokey (almost BBQ esque) and slightly sweet, baigan bharta is an utterly satisfying dish that’s perfect with hot buttery chapatis. The mashed consistency of the aubergine is akin to baba ganoush so it also works great as a dip, in wraps and smothered on crackers too (I’m thinking canapĂ©s at dinner partys people). I hope you like this recipe. It’s surprisingly easy to make and packed full of flavour. Keep me posted on how it turns out for you! 

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Smoked Aubergine Mash (Baigan Bhartha)
Serves 3
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Ingredients
  1. 1 aubergine
  2. 2 tbsp oil
  3. 1 small onion, finely diced
  4. 1 green chilli, finely diced
  5. 2 tomatoes, diced
  6. 1 level tsp tomato puree (double concentrate)
  7. 1 1/2 tsp salt or according to taste
  8. 1/2 tsp chilli powder or according to taste
  9. 2 tbsp peas, boiled (optional)
  10. Fresh coriander
Instructions
  1. Grease the aubergine with oil and roast it over an open flame till it is fully cooked. It should take about 5-7 minutes. When done, the skin should be charred all over and and the aubergine flesh will become soft.
  2. If you do not have a gas cooker, you can also cook the aubergine in the grill at the highest temperature until soft. Note, this will however not achieve the smokiness in flavour.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Then peel and discard the skin. Mash the flesh with a fork and keep aside.
  4. Heat oil in a non stick pan. Then add the onions and chilli and cook for 3-5 minutes until light golden brown in colour.
  5. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, salt and chilli powder and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
  6. Now add the mashed aubergine and peas and mix well. Reduce the heat and cook for 5-7 minutes. Add the fresh coriander. Check salt and chilli and adjust accordingly. Remove from heat.
Notes
  1. If you are roasting over a flame, use tongs to hold the aubergine and rotate every few minutes. It may also help to cover the cooker around the ring with foil so it is easy to clean once the aubergine is roasted.
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/

Afghani Chicken Drumsticks

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The temperature went into double digits today. Double digits people. That means no more scarves, no more knee high boots and dare I say it no more de-icer? It also means that the sun has got his/ her hat on and Summer is quickly approaching! Yes I am doing a happy dance as I type this (mad skills I know). As the weather gets slightly warmer, I enjoy taking advantage of the grill and my husband with his epic salad making abilities.  

I love recipes that involve marinating and grilling – they’re so easy to make, require minimal washing up and can be prepared in advance. What’s not to like? This Afghani chicken marination is a particular favourite of mine. The addition of ground cashews and almonds makes for a lovely, creamy base. Combined with the tartness of the lime and the heat from the chillies…can I get a MMM MMM MMMM?! 

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Hope you enjoy! As always, let me know what you think in the comments 🙂

Afghani Chicken Drumsticks
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 8 chicken drumsticks, skinless with slits cut into them
  2. 4 tbsp yoghurt
  3. 2 tsbp extra thick double cream (optional)
  4. 3" ginger, peeled
  5. 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  6. 2 green finger or birds eye chillies (optional)
  7. juice of 2 limes
  8. 5 almonds
  9. 10 cashews
  10. 2 1/4 tsp salt, or according to taste
  11. 1/2 tsp paprika
  12. 1/2 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  13. 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  14. 1 tsp garam masala
  15. 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  16. 1/4 tsp ground green cardamom (optional)
  17. handful fresh coriander including stems, roughly chopped
  18. 2 tbsp oil or ghee
Instructions
  1. Line a baking tray with foil and turn your grill on the highest temperature setting
  2. Place the chicken in a bowl.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients apart from the yoghurt and cream into a processor and blitz into a paste. Empty into a bowl. Now mix in the yoghurt and cream.
  4. Pour this marinade over the chicken and mix well. If you have time, cover and refrigerate over night. If not, place in oven straight away.
  5. Cook for 10 minutes. Then turn the chicken over and cook for an additonal 10 minutes or until the chicken is white all the way through and has begun to char slightly.
  6. Turn off grill and serve with salad and tandoori naan!
Notes
  1. You can soak the almonds and cashews in a little water beforehand so it is creamier when blended in the processor.
  2. Feel free to use any cut of chicken - chicken thighs are also great for grilling!
  3. You can marinate the chicken for up to 48 hours - the longer you leave it the better.
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/

Spicy Sweet Potato Aloo Tikki

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It’s autumn. It’s time to bid farewell to flip flops and open toe sandals and dust off your wellies and fleece (or sheep skin for those who are that way inclined)-lined knee-high boots. Although I am not a big fan of cold, I have a dear admiration for the autumnal months… the red trees that line the avenues, the crisp crunch of fallen leaves underfoot, and the hypnotic patter of welcome rain… are but a few of the sensory pleasures that put a smile on my face.

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Nevertheless my body invariably switches to hibernation mode – that’s “collect carbs and go to sleep” mode in case you were wondering. And that doesn’t even account for the gastronomic adventures of Christmas!!! So I usually make a conscious effort to stay in shape.I do not “diet”. I enjoy food too much. So I see myself as more of a “conscious eater”. It’s probably a phrase I have made up (I do that a lot according to my husband), but it means I just stay aware of what I put in, rather than how much per se.

One of the great boons of Indian home cooking is that we use a lot of spices… which inherently have medicinal and health-promoting properties (as well as adding the “Kapow” to my food). Even now, Indian mothers often treat their children’s cuts and grazes with turmeric paste in preference to any shop-bought antiseptic creams. It just works! What I’m trying to say is that Indian food is healthy… or at least it should be, but it may need a little tweak to get it there. So there is no need to feel guilty when you are making yourself an Indian snack! I don’t (and neither does my other half… who crosses the line between well-meaning appreciation and gluttony with child-like abandon far too often!). For example, try swapping out regular basmati for brown basmati rice or replacing white flour with wholemeal or millet flour. Don’t worry – you will not be sacrificing any of the taste! 

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This brings me to today’s recipe. Aloo tikkis are a street food favourite in India! You will often see locals chowing down on these fried potato spiced potato cakes served with chutneys and salad, on the roadsides in India because they’re so damned moreish! Unfortunately, although they taste amazing they’re probably not the kindest to your waistline. In my recipe I have used exactly the same traditional spices but simply swapped out regular potato for sweet potato, baked instead of fried and served with a kachumber salad (yes… that’s not cucumber… but kachumber – I’m not making it up!). I made a batch of 12 of these and my hubby inhaled them within minutes. I’d like to think that was a testament to the taste and not to his hunger!

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Sweet Potato Aloo Tikki
Serves 2
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Ingredients
  1. 3 medium sweet potatoes
  2. 3" ginger, peeled
  3. 1 clove garlic, peeled
  4. 1/2 cup soya granules
  5. 1 tbsp gram flour
  6. 1 whole birds eye chilli
  7. 2 tsp salt or according to taste
  8. 2 tsp whole coriander seeds, coarsely crushed
  9. 1 tsp paprika
  10. 1/2 tsp amchur/mango powdrer
  11. juice of 1/2 fresh lime
  12. 4 tbsp fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  13. oil for greasing
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven at 200C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. ( I greased mine with oil)
  2. Place the potatoes inside a plastic carrier bag and tie a knot. Pierce a hole with your finger and cook in a microwave for approximately 12 minutes. (The exact time may vary depending on your microwave and size of potatoes so cook until you can easily place a knife through them).
  3. Allow to cool then peel the skin off (you can easily peel with your fingers) and cut into rough chunks.
  4. Place all the remaining ingredients apart from the oil into a processor. Process everything for 40-50 seconds until it is mixed together well. Check for salt and adjust accordingly. Empty into a bowl.
  5. Grease your hands with oil. Now get a walnut size amount of the sweet potato mixture. Roll into a ball and press down slightly so a patty forms. The width should be about 3-4" wide. Place on the baking tray and repeat with the remaining mixture.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes then turn over and cook for a remaining 10 minutes. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. You can make the patties as big or small as you like. If you make bigger ones, they are great in burger buns and make fantastic veggy burgers!
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/