30 March 2015

Pomodori e Melanzane | Italian recipe for eggplant in tomato sauce

David Rocco, the famous Italian chef on tv, prepared this recipe in one of the episodes of his show David Rocco's Dolce India. He gave it an Indian tadka using green chillies, coriander and garam masala. While that sounded exciting, I prefer the clean Italian flavours to mixing them with Indian flavours. Also, the eggplants fried in oil have a capacity to drink up copious quantities and since I wanted to take the healthier route, I used the airfryer to bypass the deep frying step. You can easily do this in an oven as well. I have described this in the recipe below.

You can either use this dish as a sauce for pasta or as a juicy filling for a sandwich. You can even eat it as it is with a slice of garlic bread or so, for a light lunch. It also makes a delicious topping for bruschetta, as an appetiser.

With very few ingredients, it is an authentic Italian dish that is great to have in your repertoire of vegetarian Italian recipes. If you want to add more punch to this, by all means add a few chillies to the olive oil while sautéing the garlic.

The original recipe does not use bell pepper, but I find that orange bell peppers add a lovely contrast and sweet juiciness to the dish. If you don't have bell peppers on hand, you can prepare this dish just with the eggplant and tomatoes, and possibly add a finely sliced onion along with the garlic. This has become one of my favourite eggplant recipes, so do give it a try!

Pomodori e Melanzane - Italian style fried eggplants in tomato sauce
Prep time: 20 minutes | Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves 2
Serve with pasta, bread or in a sandwich

Equipment required
AirFryer (optional)

1 medium sized globe eggplant 
2 tbsp olive oil, divided 
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small orange bell pepper, diced (you can use yellow too)
5 medium tomatoes, blanched and peeled
2 tsp mixed dried herbs
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh basil leaves and capers to garnish


  1. Keep a big bowl of water with 1 tsp of salt ready.
  2. Cut off the stem end of the eggplant. Cut into thick slices and uniformly dice each slice to get 1 cm cubes.
  3. Immediately immerse in salted water.
  4. Roughly chop the blanched tomatoes and keep aside.
  5. In a heavy bottomed wok, heat 1 tbsp olive oil.
  6. Crush the garlic cloves with the back of a knife. Add to oil. Don't brown this, within the next few seconds, add the bell pepper and saute over medium flame for 5 minutes.
  7. To this add the dried herbs, salt and chopped blanched tomatoes.
  8. Bring this to a simmer.
  9. Meanwhile, remove eggplant from water, squeeze thoroughly and add to a large bowl. Toss in 1 tbsp olive oil.
  10. Preparing fried eggplant in airfryer :  Preheat airfryer to 180°C and place the oil tossed eggplant in the wire basket. Set the basket in the slot and dial the timer to 15 minutes. At the end of this, eggplant should be well cooked and golden.
  11. Add these golden eggplant cubes to the simmering tomato sauce. Check for salt, season with some ground black pepper and remove into a bowl or add to cooked pasta.
  12. Garnish with fresh herbs and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Oven method:
If you don't have an airfryer, preheat oven to 190°C (convection mode). Line a tray with heavy duty aluminum foil. Place the oil tossed eggplant cubes in a single layer, place in the center rack and bake for around 25 minutes or until eggplant is golden and soft. Proceed with recipe.

Stove top method:
If you don't have an oven, take 1 inch of olive oil in a fry pan, fry the eggplant cubes on medium flame until soft and drain well on kitchen paper.

28 March 2015

Recipe for Tahari - a rice dish from Uttar Pradesh

The concluding part of the Awadhi / Uttar Pradesh cuisine series on the blog is this popular rice dish called Tahari or Teheri. What makes it different from a pulao is the preparation in mustard oil, and the addition of crushed red chillies, shares UP food expert, Atiya Zaidi. It has also got a fair bit of turmeric in it, giving it the bright golden yellow colour. The kind of ingredients that go into a Tahari depends on the region. For example, Jaunpuri Tahari is made traditionally with potato, peas and vadiyan / badiyan / wadi (lentil paste, sundried and used in various dishes). In Meerut, they add a tablespoon of tur dal to the tahari, along with cauliflower and carrot when in season. In Awadhi cuisine, Tahari is also made with added kheema.

Feel free to add the kind of vegetables and / or meat you like, but the spice paste with turmeric and fried red chillies along with the strong flavour of mustard oil is what gives this dish its character.

You can make a complete vegetarian Awadhi / UP menu using the recipes shared this month:

Badinjan Burani (Eggplant and yogurt)
Arbi ka Korma (Colocassia curry)
Til wale Aloo (Potatoes in sesame sauce)
Zaffrani Warqi Paratha (Layered saffron flat bread)
Alu Matar Vadiyan ki Tahari (a rice dish with potato, peas and sundried lentils)

Recipe for Teheri / Tahari 
Prep time: 30 mins | Cooking time: Less than 20 mins
Serves 2-4
Recipe courtesy: Atiya Zaida

Equipment required:

1 cup rice
2 tbsp mustard oil
4 dried red chillies
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 large onion, peeled and chopped into chunks
1/2" piece ginger
4 cloves garlic
1 cup frozen or fresh peas
1-2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 cup badiyan or wadi (sundried lentil chunks) shallow fried in oil, drained
1 tsp salt

  1. Wash the rice in plenty of water and soak for 30 minutes.
  2. In a heavy bottomed pan or pressure pan, heat mustard oil, fry the chillies and remove with a slotted spoon, keep aside.
  3. In a mixer, grind the onion, turmeric powder, ginger and garlic to a fine paste.
  4. Add this paste to the same mustard oil in the pan and fry until oil leaves the masala, say around 5-7 minutes.
  5. To this, add the peas, potato, shallow fried badiyan and salt and stir well for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add 1 and 3/4 cups water. Bring to a boil, add the soaked and drained rice. Cover and cook for around 10 minutes until the potato and rice are cooked. If cooking in pressure pan or pressure cooker, switch off after one whistle. Open when cool and fluff with a fork.
  7. Remove in a serving bowl and garnish with the crushed fried red chillies.

The traditional accompaniments to this Tahari are:
  • Dahi Raita, which is fresh yogurt whisked with salt and roasted cumin powder 
  • Slices of raw radish / daikon
  • Coriander chutney
  • Papad
The recipe for Tahari from Uttar Pradesh is part of the endeavor to create a collection of recipes of Traditional Indian Cuisines in collaboration with a few bloggers who share the same passion of cooking. 
Find more Traditional Recipes from Uttar Pradesh - Lucknowi / Avadhi cuisine by #TheKichenDivas

Arhar ki Dal with Lahsun Tadka- Archana's Kitchen
Gobi-Soya Kheema - Fun, Food &Frolic 

24 March 2015

Recipe for Saffron Warqi Parathas from Chef Saransh Goila

A few days ago, I saw an Instagram video from +Saransh Goila  making a Saffron Warqi Paratha. In keeping with the theme of recipes from Awadh and Lucknow on SaffronTrail blog all March, I was excited to share it with my readers and Saransh was generous to share his recipe. For those who don't know him, Chef Saransh Goila is considered India's youngest celebrity chef and has anchored a show that took across to the length and breadth of India, called Roti, Rasta aur India. You can read more about him here

Warq parathas or Warqui parathas are one of the popular breads featured in Awadhi cuisine. Just like any other Awadhi dish, they are rich (read that as lots of butter and ghee) and they take their own sweet time in the making, thanks to elaborate preparation methods. 
Addition of saffron to the parathas takes it a few notches up in terms of flavour and regalness. 

These parathas need quite a bit of time and patience, almost like making a puff pastry. If you like elaborate cooking projects, then this one is for you. Given the presence of saffron, a spice that makes itself home in both savoury and sweet dishes with equal ease, this Indian bread is quite versatile. Pair it with a curry or a korma or even as a shortbread substitute in an elaborate dessert or just with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to provide a crunch to your dessert.

Recipe for Saffron Warqi / Warq Parantha [Flaky Indian flatbread with saffron]
Recipe & photos courtesy: Saransh Goila

1 gram saffron
100 ml milk
500g refined flour (Maida)
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp ghee
100g butter
Water for kneading (approximately 100 ml)


Crush and mix Saffron in warm milk. Let it rest for 10 minutes.
Add salt and sugar to the flour (maida) in a large, deep bowl or on a clean kitchen counter.  Now rub the flour with ghee, until the texture is like breadcrumbs or sand. This is the shortening process to get a flaky end product.

 Create a well in this flour, add saffron milk and some water in this well to bind the flour. Then slowly add more water, little by little and knead well, until a semi soft, pliable dough is formed, say about 3 minutes. The dough will acquire a golden colour from the saffron. Cover with a moist cloth and keep aside to rest in a warm place for at least 15-20 minutes.

Divide the dough into 2 parts, working with one part at a time. Lightly coat the dough with a little dry flour and place it on floured work surface, flatten it slightly and roll it out into a big rectangle sheet (24" by 12") (preferably use a roller pin, if not, a regular belan will do). Now rub a layer of butter all over on this rolled dough. 

Fold the right side of 1/3rd of dough in and then cover it (overlap) with the leftover 1/3rd left side of the dough.  Pinch the loose ends, rub some butter on the top again. 
Now fold this folded dough upwards in half again (it will be square now). Cover with moist cloth and place in the fridge for 15 minutes. 
After 15 minutes, roll this folded dough out again and repeat the whole folding and chilling process again. 
This whole process needs to be repeated thrice.

After being folded, rolled and chilled thrice. Roll it out one last time into a big rectangle and cut it out in square or circle  paranthas (any size you prefer). Use a cutter for circles or a knife for the squares.

On a hot non stick pan, place the cut out paranthas. Cook them evenly on low heat on both the sides. You’ll notice it’ll start to flake up, smear with some ghee or butter now. If the tava is too hot, it will brown quickly and not become flaky, so be careful. When both sides of parantha are crisp and flaky, remove it from the tava. 

Lightly crush it with your hand for the flakes to be visible. 

You can enjoy these warqi parathas with kababs, kormas or as it is, with some chai. 

Vegetarian Awadhi Menu:
Warqi Parathas
Badinjan Burani
Awadhi Arbi ka Korma
Badiyan aur Aloo ki Tehari (Coming soon)

You can even cut out bite sized parathas as serve them as a base for appetisers or even to add a crunch factor to desserts, similar to a shortbread.

You can follow Chef Saransh Goila on Youtube , Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

21 March 2015

Recipe for Awadhi Arbi Ka Korma

Awadhi Arbi Korma - Authentic Indian curry from saffrontrail.com

This is the second of the three recipes that Atiya was generous to share with me. The first one was Badinjan Burani, a Persian dish that traveled to India. This arbi Korma or colocassia curry is one of the other vegetarian dishes popular in Jaunpur. According to Wikipedia, "for about eighty-four years (from 1394 to 1478) Awadh was part of the Sharqi Sultanate of Jaunpur". So there is a fair bit of overlap between Jaunpuri cuisine and Awadhi cuisine. 

Awadhi cuisine is hugely influenced by Mughlai style of cooking, which is rich, elaborate and complex. The cuisine is famous for its kababs, kormas and biryanis, among others. Korma in Awadhi cuisine is the term for braising meat. In this vegetarian korma, the colocassia or arbi loses all its sliminess because of the frying and it gets a very meaty texture. Traditionally kormas do not have any chillies or chili powder. I have added a touch of chilli powder in this recipe, which you can avoid. Atiya also tells me that traditionally, tomatoes were never used in this cuisine. The yogurt gives it the required tanginess. She also shares that the korma are not garnished with coriander, that pretty much features as a garnish in every Indian curry.

Awadhi Arbi Korma - Authentic Indian curry from saffrontrail.com

While I'm a fan of slam-bang quick curries with absolutely no prep time, everything going into the pressure cooker and cooking itself, the taste of this curry is well worth the preparation that goes into it. I have tried to make it a little healthier by not deep frying either the onions or arbi, but you can go the traditional route. I'm sure the taste can only get better.

Awadhi Arbi Korma - Authentic Indian curry from saffrontrail.com

Recipe for Avadhi Arbi Ka Korma / Qorma
Source: Atiya Zaidi

Prep time: 30-45 minutes 
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves 3-4

Equipment required:

12-16 pieces of arbi / colocassia (uniformly sized)
3 tbsp oil, divided
1 tbsp ghee
whole garam masalas (1 bay leaf, 3-4 cloves, 1 small piece cinnamon, 1 green cardamom)
1 cup fresh yogurt
1 onion, finely sliced
1 tbsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder (not in the original recipe)
1.5 tsp salt
For paste:
1 onion, roughly chopped
1/2 inch piece of ginger, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled

This recipe requires a fair bit of preparation and then it is just a matter of putting everything together.
The original recipe calls for cleaning, peeling the colocassia, cutting them in half lengthwise and deep frying them. As I chose not to deep fry, I had a couple of steps extra here.

Preparing the arbi for the curry / korma
Wash the colocassia well. Place some water in a pressure cooker. Place the colocassia in a bowl that fits into the cooker with 1/4 cup water. Pressure cook for 2 whistles and then on sim for 5 minutes. This also depends on the size of the colocassia so choose medium sized ones and all roughly the same size.
Once the cooker cools, open and allow the cooked colocassia to cool.
Peel and cut in half, lengthwise.
Toss them in a bowl gently with 1/2 tsp salt and 2 tsp oil.
In a preheated oven or airfryer (200°C) bake them until golden brown outside. This will take roughly 10 minutes in airfryer and 20-30 minutes in an oven.
Once done, remove from airfryer / oven and keep aside.

Frying the onions
Finely slice an onion and chop it into very thin slices. Separate each slice so as to get thin segments of onion. In a pan, take enough oil and deep fry the onion segments on a low heat until golden brown. This is a time consuming process and takes up to 20 minutes for one onion. 
Airfryer recipe for fried onions: 
Toss onion segments in few drops of oil and place them in preheated airfryer (180°C) for 6-8 minutes until golden brown and crisp.
Once the 'fried' onions are cooled, crush or blend the 'fried' onion segments to a fine powder. 

Preparing the paste
In a small jar of the mixer, puree the ginger, garlic and roughly chopped onion to a fine puree. Keep aside.

Toasting the coriander powder
On a tava or in a small pan, toast the coriander powder until aromatic and keep aside.

Making the korma
  1. In a heavy bottomed pan, place the remaining oil along with the ghee. Immediately add the whole spices, even before the oil is hot. You don't want the spices to puff up in this recipe. 
  2. Add the onion-ginger-garlic paste and fry on a medium heat for 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add the toasted coriander powder and fry for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Whisk the crushed fried onion powder along with the yogurt and add it to the pan, with the flame on minimum setting or the yogurt will separate. 
  5. Add the salt, red chilli powder and bring to a gentle simmer.
  6. At this stage add the 'fried' arbi halves, add 1/4 cup water if the sauce is too thick, and bring to a gentle simmer.
  7. Traditionally, these kormas are not garnished with coriander, you may garnished with a few fried onion segments. Serve with parathas. 
The recipe for Awadhi Arbi Ka Korma is part of the endeavor to create a collection of recipes of Traditional Indian Cuisines in collaboration with a few bloggers who share the same passion of cooking. 
Find more Traditional Recipes from Uttar Pradesh - Lucknowi / Avadhi cuisine by #TheKichenDivas

Bhakarkhani Roti - Whisk Affair
Tikia Aloo - Sinamon Tales
Shahi Dal- Fun Food & Frolic
Broccoli Malai Kofta - Archana's Kitchen

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