So for my birthday I decided to make my current favorite indian meal: Baingan Bhartha (roasted, mashed eggplant), naan, and strawberry lassi. While this all looks intimidating, it actually was much easier than expected. And AJ said it was some of the best food he’d had, but he might have just been nice because it was my birthday : )
Baingan ka Shahi Bhartha
(from 1000 Indian Recipes, Neelam Batra)
1 large oval shaped eggplant (about 1 pound)
2 tbsp vegetable oil or melted ghee
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large clove fresh garlic, minced
1 to 3 fresh green chile peppers, such as Serrano, minced with seeds
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp garam masala (if you can’t find garam masala you can make it, see below)
½ tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
½ tsp ground paprika
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1 large tomato, finely chopped
1 cup, plus 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro, including soft stems
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
¼ cup heavy or light cream
1. Flame-char or roast the eggplant, then peel and mash (mashed eggplant is good for 5 days in fridge, or 4 months in freezer)
a. To Flame-char: Wash, dry and lightly oil your hands, and rub them over the surface of each eggplant. Then, with the tip of a sharp kitchen knife, puncture the skin in a few places. Place them, preferably over the hot coals of a grill or over the direct flame of a kitchen stove burner (cover the bottom plate with aluminum foil for easy cleaning), and roast, turning with kitchen tongs as the sides blacken, until the eggplant is very soft and the skin is completely charred, 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. When cool enough to handle, peel off the charred skin and discard. Work close to the kitchen sink, because you may need to rinse your fingers as you go along. Do not wash the eggplants. Mash the pup with your hands or a fork until somewhat smooth but still lumpy.
b. To Roast: Lightly oil and puncture the skin in a few places with the tip of a knife and bake in a preheated 400º degree oven until the eggplants are tender, 35-40 minutes. You can wrap them in aluminum foil before baking.
c. Mashing: Mash the pup with your hands or a fork until somewhat smooth but still lumpy. Do not make a completely smooth puree; a little texture is very desirable. Strain and mix in any juices that may have collected in the bowl (I only mixed in some of the juices to cut the bitterness).
2. Heat the ghee or oil in a large nonstick wok or saucepan over medium-high heat and cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and green chile peppers. , mix in the coriander, cumin, garam masala, cayenne pepper, paprika and salt, and stir about 1 minute.
3. Add the tomato and cilantro and cook, stirring, until all the tomato juices evaporate, 5-7 minutes. Mix in the mashed eggplant and the peas. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Mix in the cream and cook 1 minute. Transfer to a service dish, garnish with the chopped cilantro, and serve.
1/3 cup ground cinnamon
1/3 cup ground black pepper
¼ cup ground cloves
3 tbsp ground green cardamom seeds
In a medium cast-iron or nonstick skillet, roast together all the spices, stirring and shaking the pan over medium heat until heated through, about 2 minutes. Let cool, then store in an airtight container in a cool, dark, place, about 1 month at room temperature, or 1 year in the refrigerator.
½ cup ice water
1/3 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
3 tbsp plus 1 tsp vegetable oil
1 large egg yolk
2 cups (10 oz) all-purpose flour (I went by weight)
1 ¼ tsp sugar
½ tsp instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 ¼ tsp salt
1 ½ tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1. In a measuring cup or small bowl, combine water, yogurt, 3 tbsp oil, and egg yolk. Process flour, sugar, and yeast in food processor until combined, about 2 seconds. With processor running, slowly add water mixture; process until dough is just combined and no dry flour remains, about 10 seconds. Let dough stand for 10 minutes.
2. Add salt to dough and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball that clears sides of work bowl, 30-60 seconds. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 1 minute. Shape dough into a tight ball and place in large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 16-24 hours (for faster naan making see below).
3. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Place heatproof plate on rack. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and divide into 4 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth, tight ball. Place dough balls on lightly oiled baking sheet, at least 2 inches apart; cover loosely with plastic wrap sprayed with vegetable oil spray. Let stand for 15-20 minutes.
4. Transfer 1 ball to lightly floured work surface and sprinkle with flour. Using hands and rolling pin, press and roll piece of dough into 9-inch round or even thickness, sprinkling dough and work surface with flour as needed to prevent sticking. Using fork, poke entire surface of round 20-25 times. Heat remaining 1 tsp oil in 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Wipe oil out of skillet completely with paper towels. Mist top of dough lightly with water. Place dough in pan, moistened side down; mist top surface of dough with water; and cover. Cook until bottom is browned in spots across surface, 2-4 minutes. Flip naan, cover and continue to cook on second side until lightly browned, 2-3 minutes (if naan puffs up, gently poke with fork to deflate). Flip naan, brush top with about 1 tsp melted butter, transfer to plate in oven, and cover plate tightly with aluminum foil. Repeat rolling and cooking with remaining 3 dough balls.. Once last naan is baked, serve immediately.
Faster naan preparation
After shaping dough in step 2, let dough rise at room temperature for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, fold partially risen dough over itself 8 times gently lifting and folding edge of dough toward middle, turning bowl 90 degrees after each fold. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. Repeat folding, turning, and rising one more time, for a total of 3 30-minute rises. After last rise, proceed with recipe from step 3.
3 cups plain yogurt
1 cup ice water
½ cup sugar
Strawberries to taste (fresh or frozen, at least 12)
Mix all ingredients in the blender. Good for a couple days.