Saturday, March 29, 2014

Ringan nu Shaak or Eggplant Shaak

Time for some Eggplant Shaak! A classic staple in the Patel household in NJ. Whenever we fly north and after we drop off our bags in our room at the in-laws, we head to the kitchen. Sarav and I immediately begin the spooning out of our favorite dishes that are almost always on hand in small Pyrex dishes, the roti in its silver metal roti container. We heat up our plates, sit down and gorge with our hands and maybe a fork for good measure.

Our daughter has participated in this ritual, she does enjoy her roti and some rice. She will try anything her Ba (grandmother) gives her. There is a very special and almost magical bond between these two women. And so, it is my duty as a daughter-in-law to carry on a tradition in the kitchen as best as I can.

I have been a Patel for five years and I am fairly confident with a handful of Gujarati dishes. Eggplant Shaak is very easy, all shaak are easy, once you know what you are doing. And for a white girl who grew up on meatloaf and tuna noodle casserole, I have to admit that I'm damn proud of what I know already. But most importantly, our daughter Edith needs to be familiar with these smells and flavors. These dishes carry the stories of her grandparents, and her father. She cannot and should not be denied these experiences. I know I will not be able to recreate many components of her Indian ancestry but the meals are something that will help her experience her rich, cultural makeup.

Having recently become a member or an Organic Share, I needed to map out the final resting place for all these new fruits and veggies that are filling up fridge and counter space. Indian recipes are a great resource, especially when two eggplants and a head of cauliflower are bestowed upon us. In this recipe I have used exactly one entire eggplant, it yielded enough shaak for us Patels to have at least one round of seconds and a small portion was donated to my neighbors, Indian food enthusiasts as well.

In order to make Ringan nu (Eggplant) Shaak you will need:
oil (2 tbsp)
mustard seed
cumin seed
1/2 - 1 whole eggplant, cubed
1/2 cup - 1 cup frozen pigeon peas
1-2 tomatoes (or a handful of heirloom grape tomatoes in this case)
salt (Kosher)
chili powder

Ahh measurements... well I use the small spoon that lives in the masala dabba so for this recipe with a full eggplant I used 2 -3 spoonfuls each of mustard and cumin seed. Heat the oil on medium heat, add the seeds about 2-3 minutes after the oil. Don't let them burn, your objective is to season the oil. Once the seeds start "popping' and your kitchen is perfumed, add the eggplant, peas and tomatoes. Stir 'em up "real respectable like" and add some salt. (My mother-in-law adds more salt than you may be used to, I have come to enjoy its flavor over the years, so I add a serious pinch after every addition in my cooking.) Let the mixture sit for a couple of minutes then add your masala mix.

Again, with the small spoon in the masala dabba, I add 1-2 spoonsfuls of ground cumin (jeera), tumeric and chili powder. My palate is a little weak when it comes to spice so I tend to
tread lightly with the chili powder as I want to enjoy the dish and not have to guzzle down milk. But 2 spoonfuls with this little spoon should not yield a "burning down the house" sensation in your mouth.

And now for the sugar. My father-in-law prefers the home cooking to be without sugar, my mother-in-law cannot not add it. Indian restaurants, according to my husband load it in their dishes. I added a scoop with my finger tips.

Mix all this up, turn down the heat to low, stir it every 5 minutes or so (to keep it from burning) and after 25 minutes, you should have a very soft, very flavorful mixture.

Serve it with rice and roti.

Tonight my husband will have a taste of his mother's kitchen, something that truly satisfies him and hopefully Edith will enjoy a lick or two, maybe even a bite. It feels great to have this dish down, it's like a no-brainer now, very straight forward and ever so delicious. Cheers!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Samosa weekend


Holy moly, it’s only the Monday after the samosa weekend and I’m tired thinking about it, everyone was right, it’s hard work and a full day of it too. I didn’t want to agree or hear that advise. It was too negative, I didn’t want the time or dedication to deter me from my mission: S-A-M-O-S-A-S! And while I was at it, I had to recreate the two amazingly delicious dipping sauces, a tamarind-date chutney and a mint-cilantro dipping sauce. When the day was complete, and I bit into that brown and green sauce covered hot crispy pocket of potato masala goodness, I was in heaven. I officially made yet another restaurant like Indian dish. I couldn’t help but smile. After all, it was a process to get there…

My week began scouring the internet for various recipes for samosas, pastry and chutney/dipping sauces. I wanted to compare techniques and ingredients. An old friend in the UK sent me his samosa recipe. I mean where else would I get a recipe for samosas except from Steve from Bristol, England?  I have an entire crew of Indians to contact for some great samosa recipes but no, I’ll take the one from the white British guy. Once he sent the email, I knew I’d be making his version, which is so similar to many of the others, in essence, the spices and potato/peas. Plus or minus a couple of things it’s the same across the board. And this way, I can keep my old friend in mind while I create something new.

Next was a trip to the ABC market about 30 minutes west of our home to pick up things like Amchur (mango powder) and some tamarind. I gathered up a couple of other ingredients for future use like cardamom seeds, ghee (clarified butter) and dried hot red chillies.  Upon checking out, the proprietor asked what I was planning on doing with all of these ingredients, to which I replied, “I’m making samosas this weekend, with the tamarind chutney.” He was impressed so I blabbered on a little more and another woman commented that it was nice to hear words like “Aloo gobi” come out of my mouth. I took that as a compliment. (Though from a totally white perspective, words like 'aloo gobi' don't sound so complimentary... ).

Tamarind chutney is a 24-hour process. I guess you can speed things up if you add the tamarind to boiling water but I did no such thing. Tamarind comes in a jar or in a sticky bar (like a Power Bar) or in a sticky brick. I bought the brick form, which apparently is IMPOSSIBLE to cut. I managed to break off a quarter of it and let it soak overnight in a bowl of water. I also let a whole lot of dates soak too, in a separate bowl.  I had to call my mother-in-law regarding this tamarind process as I was curious to know if I was doing any of this correctly or just royally fouling up the process. She informed me about the dates.

Saturday morning I awoke and mashed the heck out of the tamarind and the dates, mushing them up. The two mashes were added together in the blender, blended and poured into a bowl. I then added sugar, salt, pepper, ground toasted cumin seeds and chili powder. I have a sweet tooth, I added more sugar as the day went on because the chutney was a little to bitter/sour for me.

And as the day continued, so did I, though I was definitely draggin' arse towards the end. The potato masala came out fine though it wasn't as spicy hot as it should be and I did forget to add cilantro, D'OH! The dough to wrap the masala was the tricky part. My first recipe didn't elaborate in the wrapping technique so a video from youtube assisted me: . My very patient husband pushed me to watch this as I was losing my cool in the kitchen. My first batch of dough ended up with two TABLESPOONS of salt. I was bleary eyed and mixed up the recipe. But the next two batches of dough were done without measuring, thankfully, I was able to acquire a little bit of skill... And my cone shaping and stuffing process began. Man oh man is that tiring. Even though 25 samosas were made in all, it felt like 50: grab a ball of dough, roll it out, cut it in half, line the edges with water, fold it, make a cone, stuff it and wrap it, VOILA'! I guess it all sounds much more easy going than it was at the time. Though I do admit, the folding part is fun, it was a long day. From 8 a.m. with the tamarind-date chutney to 6:30 p.m. with the frying of the samosas, I was definitely ready to get out of the kitchen. Except, oh yeah, we don't have a dish washer...UGH! When the money is saved up, when the renovations begin on a new kitchen, Sarav and I will have a special christening ceremony for the dish washer. Oh how we loathe washing dishes and yet we seem to constantly wash them, over and over and over again. C'est la vie, it's just how it is.

I believe dahl will be the next dish to fill our bellies and our sink.

Tamarind Chutney ( I added a 1/4 cup of dates to this recipe)
1/4 cup tamarind pulp ripe and seedless
1 1/4 cups water
1 x salt to taste
1 tablespoon raw sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds white, toasted and ground
1 tablespoon mint leaves chopped


Soak tamarind pulp in water overnight.
The next day, mash the pulp into the water and blend throughly.
Strain liquid in a sieve or through some cheesecloth and discard the fibres.
Stir in the remaining ingredients except the mint leaves.
Whisk thoroughly until the sugar has dissolved.

Mint- Cilantro dipping sauce 
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 one-inch piece of ginger
  • 1 bunch fresh mint, leaves removed from stems
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, leaves removed from stems
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeds and stem removed
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
Place garlic and ginger in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the mint, cilantro, jalapeño, sugar, salt and lime juice, and puree until ground. Add water and EVOO, pulse to combine. 

(recipe courtesy of Mr. Steve Cooke of Bristol, England)

Veggie samosas
450g/1lb potatoes
2 tbsps Cooking Oil,
½ tso cumin seeds
2 Dried red Chillies
1 Medium Onion
1-2 fresh green chillies
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves – or cilantro as you yanks call it!
Boiled potatoes, drained, cooled, diced.
Heat oil in pan, add mustard and cumin seeds until they pop. Add chopped dried red chillies, onion and 2 chopped green chillies. Add tumeric, ground cumin, ground coriander and season to taste. Add potatoes and frozen peas. Mix together well. Taste. Add more of any above spices/seasoning if desired. Remove pan from heat, let cool to room temp before added into dough pockets.

I have figured out for 25 samosas, which is pretty much what the above recipe makes, you need 3 cups of flour, a pinch or two of salt, some oil and water. Add these two slowly oil first, then water. If you are a measurement kinda person, add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, add some water. Mix. Add a little more oil and a little more water, mix. You'll notice how the dough changes, you don't want it super sticky, if that happens add more flour. Roll it into a ball and let it sit for 15-30 min wrapped in saran wrap at room temperature.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Aloo Gobi

Cumin smells like dirty armpits.
Garam masala is a delicious blend of sweet aromas.
Tumeric is ever so yellow and a stain master!

I have these bad boys memorized now. I think. Aloo Gobi, a cauliflower and potato dish was tonight's meal. Strangely enough it is unlike Pav Bhaji and thank the Sweetness up above because from start to finish, it took 1.15 hours to create.

Today at work I was sluggish. This aging thing has me recovering a little longer on these 'hangovers' and it was still hanging around today. (My inner rock star is weakening, curses!) My lessons were off, my quick thinking skills and pronunciation were far from normal, and by the end of those 9 hours in a public high school filled with 2500+ students and 120+ staff, I was trying to hang on. The body aches started, the fear of this stupid H1N1 crept into mind. I told myself, no gym, take a nap and then make dinner, if you can. I was beat. Thankfully a quick gulp of an Airborne tablet cleared up all achiness and I got down to prepping dinner. Amazing how that Airborne works for me, all the time, like a charm. Whether it has mental or physical properties, it works and I swear by it.

As I began to prep I thought about how the chefs on Top Chef say in their 'confessionals' "I'm sick, I'm not in the mood to cook, I'll probably produce shitty food". Which of course is true for any field, if the mentality is negative the results will be negative. Reflecting on my day, I was a little worrisome that this new dish might turn out like crap due to my state of mind/body. But as I chopped up the cilantro stems and jalepeno I simply said, "Bullcrap, I got this!" Voila!, a very happy husband and a very happy wife.

I must admit it was a rush to taste this sauce, it was good, damn good, and I made it. I know that sounds so childish but for me it’s a real accomplishment, plain and simple. My mother always warned me about trying out new recipes for a dinner party, but so far so good, I’m 4 for 4 (that is if I did cook for more than my husband on the first try). Then again, I do think I have passed Indian food 101 and I am easily finishing up 102 due to knowledge gained through the in-laws. Speaking of this new set of parental units, I called my 2nd mother up and told her the news, “I’m cooking your favorite dish”. She beamed over the phone, told me she was so proud of me, and she exclaimed she will HAVE to visit now because she is so happy to finally have someone to cook for her.

This is where my other learning experience begins…or rather, has started and continues: the infamous ‘mother-in-law’ scenario. I never imagined what this relationship would be like; I had absolutely no concept. My own mother was without a 2nd mother; she never dealt with or was blessed with this other maternal figure. It’s an interesting position to be in, especially with an Indian mother. Cooking is a way for me to bring myself closer to her, to understand her love for her sons and her daughters-in-law, to understand what she went through 40 years ago upon emigrating here. Books like The Hindi Bindi Club and The Namesake have let me into her life. It’s important that I understand this woman or else, I might go mad. We all have our quirks, hers are hers alone but also they are part of her culture; one that I know very little about, but am dutifully trying to grasp.

So if I can figure out what makes her tick that is rooted deeper than personality but inherited, passed down from generation to generation, then I am in a better position to see life from her perspective. And we’re supposed to do that during our time here, understand things through other’s points of view, no?

Well enough about all that jazz and on to the recipe, Aloo Gobi, found this recipe on The comments were positive and I took it and ran, I obviously did a lot of research prior to deciding on this…not. But the intro to the recipe reads: "great Indian recipe from the film Bend It Like Beckham" and I was rather sold as it's an all time favorite movie. The recipe is straight forward and after 25-30 minutes of cooking time for the potatoes/cauliflower, I turned off the heat and let it sit covered for another 20 minutes. Serve with roti/chapati, a much thinner than naan bread, like a pita/crepe. You will be full and satisfied.

Next on the list, I’ll be attempting samosas this coming weekend, good luck to me and deep-frying…

• 1/4 cup vegetable oil
• 1 large onion, peeled and cut into small pieces
• 1 bunch fresh coriander, separated into stalks and leaves and roughly chopped
• 1 small green chilies, chopped into small pieces (or one teaspoon chili powder)
• 1 large cauliflower, leaves removed and cut evenly into eighths
• 3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into even pieces
• 2 cans diced tomatoes
• fresh ginger, peeled and grated
• fresh garlic, chopped
• 1 teaspoon cumin seed
• 2 teaspoons turmeric
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons garam masala
Heat vegetable oil in a large saucepan.
Add the chopped onion and one teaspoon of cumin seeds to the oil.
Stir together and cook until onions become creamy, golden, and translucent.
Add chopped coriander stalks, two teaspoons of turmeric, and one teaspoon of salt.
Add chopped chillis (according to taste) Stir tomatoes into onion mixture.
Add ginger and garlic; mix thoroughly.
Add potatoes and cauliflower to the sauce plus a few tablespoons of water (ensuring that the mixture doesn't stick to the saucepan).
Ensure that the potatoes and cauliflower are coated with the curry sauce.
Cover and allow to simmer for twenty minutes (or until potatoes are cooked).
Add two teaspoons of Garam Masala and stir.
Sprinkle chopped coriander leaves on top of the curry.
Turn off the heat, cover, and leave for as long as possible before serving.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Diwali and tandoori chicken

Tonight we are celebrating Diwali (dee-vahl-ee) it coincides with the Hindu New Year and you must eat lots of sweets, have many candles lit and lights on, be with family and welcome in the New Year together. It's only my second year celebrating Diwali since the first two years together I had no idea what it was nor its significance. The husband, aka Paco, isn't one to go all out and make a big deal of the holidays. So besides just saying, "Happy Diwali" and making a call to his parents, there has been little on our end here. I wanted to make it a big deal, and I have started off slowly. To learn more about Diwali, check out this link

First we must eat Indian food, so this year I'm cooking instead of a family trip, my parents and the two of us, to Royal India (restaurant 10 min. away). In cooking I can at least feel slightly more connected to the culture.

Other preparations are minor; I bought some candles at the Indian market, ABC, two weeks ago. There are all sorts of fun candles to buy, different colored terracotta pots/cups/stars/flowers with little ‘jewels’ and mirrors glued on and a small votive candle sprinkled with glitter. I bought two sets of two star bursts designs. It doesn't matter what style candles you have lit, as long as there is light. But there are specific candles that are used along with prayer, this we will not be partaking in, per se.

And finally sweets! Give me a dark chocolate bar any day of the week, but these Indian desserts are something else man, talk about SWEEEEET. My in-laws sent us a box of Diwali sweets and we’ll be bringing them to dinner tonight, as I cannot see either of us finishing off the box by ourselves…ever. I’m not knocking the sweets but they are just too much for me. Most have crushed nuts rolled into them, they are soft little finger sweets. Some are little rolls (looking like Combos), others are flat diamonds (my current favorite, an almond flavor), and others are wedges of a ball, layered in colors of green, brown or even pink. Just like a box of chocolates at Christmas, I have successfully taken a nibble of each one to taste test them. As my palate is regaining back its taste buds, 6 weeks of no cigarettes –yeah me!, I can slowly decipher the difference between the sweets, though I have to admit, it appears to be a fine line between some of them.

So I attempted the infamous Tandoori chicken last night and it was a great success. I enjoy making these sauces of yogurt and spices. It's like being a kid and getting to play with a ball of dough, simple and entertaining. The yogurt changes from white to a pink/orange, the different spices' own bold colors lose their identity in the mix, and then you taste it and everything dances on your tongue. Once the mix is slapped together, lube up the chicken and let it marinate for at least 2 hours but you can go over night if you wish. Crank the oven up to 475 and bake these bad boys for 20-25 minutes, I had a 3.5lb bird all cut up into 8 pieces. I served 'em up on a bed of greens, some wedges of lime & red onion to compliment the chicken and of course some naan. Unfortunately, the naan is store bought so it's not the best.

There is a tandoori paste that one can buy, at least that is what the cookbook told me, and since I didn't want a paste filled with preservatives, I opted for my own mixture as described above. I also opted out of adding the red food dye to make the color pop and match the restaurant style. It felt good to not eat nuclear red chicken. Apparently my mother-in-law doesn't add the red, which makes me wonder: Who decided to add red food dye to a perfectly attractive in color on its own dish? Something tells me families in India don't go running out to refill their red food dye stock. But I could be wrong, it's been known to happen.

All in all, another successful dish down. I am liking this new hobby, it's keeping me off the streets!

Oh and should you care to attempt this on your own...


1 3lb chicken, skinned and cut in to pieces
1 cup plain (low-non fat, your choice) yogurt
1 tsp garam marsala
1 tsp ginger pulp (throw ginger & garlic in the Cuisinart, can keep for a week in fridge)
1 tsp garlic pulp
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp tumeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp corn oil

bed of greens
lime wedges
slices of red onion
tomato, quartered (these additions are completely up to you)

1. Skin and cut up chicken, thighs, legs, breasts, the whole damn thing. Should you desire, cut the breasts up into smaller bite sizes to avoid hackin' 'em up after cooking.
2. Mix together the yogurt, spices, lemon juice, salt and oil. (Should you want nuclear red chicken, this is when you add 1-2 drops of red food coloring)
3. Lube up the chicken with t he mixture, let marinate for at least 2 hours but you can let the bird soak up the goodness over night.
4. Oven heats up to 475.
5. Place chicken in an ovenproof dish and bake for 20-25 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and place chicken on top of bed of greens (obviously in a serving dish). Add limes and onion/tomato.

** I warmed up naan for 3 minutes in the oven, drizzled a little olive oil on the bread, sprinkled a little water on the bread and served with chicken. **

**TUMERIC WILL STAIN YOUR COUNTER AND ANYTHING IT TOUCHES, should it spill on the counter, clean immediately. ***

Sunday, October 11, 2009

पनीर बाल्टी विथ प्रव्न्स

Paneer Balti with Prawns

Ha, google amazes me, I chose Hindi as a language choice not knowing my title space would auto convert. Glorious!

This week's choice turned out to be a restaurant style tasty dish that I sat and devoured my plate with a big, fat ol' smile of 'Hell yeah me!' accomplishment!

Balti is a style of cooking that apparently comes from Baltistan. Duh! Carmen Sandiego taught me Jack about this place, so let me inform you that it lies in the northern area of Pakistan, the southern part of this region borders Kashmir in India. Balti cooking is like a stir-fry. Quick and easy as this dinner took only an hour from start to finish, including prep work. For more details regarding Balti style cooking, this page may be of some assistance:

Paneer is Indian cheese. At first I thought a stir-fry of cheese and shrimp might be a mistake. But Saag Paneer (spinach and paneer) is so tasty and man, I just love cheese, that I had to give this one a shot. Paneer is a firm cheese, that is, it's easily cubed. I will make paneer next time as it's just boiled milk and lemon juice, but for this recipe I bought some packaged paneer. Paneer, paneer, paneer...

The heart of this dish is the spice mixture. And it is here where my learning really begins because I need to know what flavors these spices create. This time around it was only, ground chili powder, ground corriander, Garam Masala and mango powder,of which I was just simply fresh out and substituted the with a pinch of the Pav Bhaji Masala box mix from last week. (I read the box's list of ingredients and mango powder was one of them hence the substitution). These spices are combined with 2tbs tomato paste, 4oz of Greek yogurt. After removing the fried paneer and prawns, ok, I'll stop being pretentious, SHRIMP, you dump this spice mixture in the fat (oil/butter) of the pan. Immediately it fills up your kitchen with a wonderous odor, add the shrimp and paneer again along with 3 chopped jalepenos, a butt load of chopped cilantro and a 2/3 cup of cream. MMM paneer and cream, hello fatty!

I served this dish with brown basmati but it wasn't necessary as we just loaded a piece of naan with Balti. And then I read the above link which clearly states Balti dishes are not served with rice. Oh well, next time. In thinking of how to alter the dish, simply change out the shrimp for cauliflower or chicken, whichever you feel like eating. I'd like to try the cauliflower option for any vegetarians because this dish is PERFECT for a dinner party of 4-6. Seriously, you can prep before and cooking literally takes 30 minutes. You'll do nothing but satisfy your friends. I'm ready to test it out, just need to think about who is next in line for a feeding at the Patelio's...hmmm ...

1 lb shrimp
1 package of 14 oz paneer
2 tbsp tomato paste
4 tbsp Greek style yogurt
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic pulp (food processor a head of garlic and it can last in your fridge for a week or so)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp mango powder
1 tsp ground coriander
butter (calls for 8 tbsp but that is just suicide)
1 tbsp oil (I used more oil than butter, veg, corn, oilve, whichever is clever)
3 jalepenos, chopped
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2/3 cup light cream

1. Peel the shrimp, cube the paneer.
2. Blend the tomato puree, yogurt, garam masala, chili powder, garlic pulp, salt, mango powder and ground coriander i a mixing bowl, set aside.
3. Melt butter with oil in a deep round-bottomed frying pan (skillet or wok if you have one, the Balti style of wok is called a karahi). Lower the heat slightly and quickly fry the paneer and shrimp for about 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted, not slutted ha!, spoon and drain on paper towels.
4. Pour the spice mixture into the fat left in the pan and stir-fry for about 1 minute.
5. Add the paneer and shrimp and cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the prawns are heated through.
6. Add the fresh jalepenos and most of the cilantro, and pour in the cream. Heat through for about 2 minutes, garnish with the remaining cilantro and serve.


Should you want to make your own paneer, well...I'll include that recipe when I do it as it only seems right. But I did find this recipe in the cook book: INDIAN deliciously authentic dishes by Shehzad Husain and Rafi Fernandez

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pav Bhaji and Mango Lassi

Sloppy Joes are more or less easy to make, Pav Bhaji (pow bah-gee), on the other hand isn't so simple.

Not that it's complicated but it requires your full attention for two + hours of stirring as burning is not an option, duh.
It's one of my favorite meals, a potato, cauliflower mash with peas served with a toasted and buttered hamburger bun. To really enhance the dish, top your heap with diced red onion, cilantro and some lime juice.
It's just awesome. Punto.

And now I know I can whip this bad boy up long as I have a window of 4 hours available to me. There's prep, cooking and cleaning. Pav Bhaji needs to sit and make love to itself in all its spicy goodness.

And as for the mango lassi, well hot damn, this is an amazing creation. In the spring time, when mangoes are readily available to us here in south Florida, I'll have a field day using the real thing. Alas, the can of mango puree works just fine. For the party last night I used 4 cups of plain fat free yogurt, 4 cups of water, 1 16 oz can of mango puree and sugar to taste. Whisk the yogurt by itself in a pitcher, about two minutes, it will get a little froth like. Add water, whisk, add mango puree, whisk, add sugar, whisk and taste. Serve over ice, add vodka if you so desire (it was a party). I'd like to keep a smaller amount of this in house during the week because now that the lassi has been had, well Momma wants more.

2 down, now what? I'd like to whip up 1-2 dishes a week and maybe over time increase this amount. My little white girl palate will eventually creep up to my in-law counter parts in regards to its spice tolerance, I gotta man up, yo!

Oh and in case there was a curiosity as to how one may recreate the Pav:

1 lg onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 jalepeno, diced
2 peeled carrots, grated/diced
4 heads of garlic, chopped
½ tbsp chopped ginger
1 12oz. can of diced tomatoes
2 potatoes, steamed
1 head of cauliflower, steamed
half bag of frozen peas
4 tbsp of Pav Bhaji Masala spice mix
additional spices:
• Smoked paprika
• Oregano
• Thyme
• Tumeric
• Curry powder
• Garam Masala
• Coriander
• Ground cumin
• Chili powder
• Salt & pepper

Stove top at Med-Med Hi. Heat oil, vegetable or canola oil, and add onion. Sautee onion until it carmalizes, browns. About 10 min. Stir often to avoid burning. Add more oil if sticking occurs. Add salt.

Add pepper and jalepeno. Stir together for about 5 min. Add a bit of s/p.

Add carrots and a little more s/p.
Add garlic and ginger and stir together.

Add Pav Bhaji Masala and extra spices.
Stir until is all thickens and then add tomatoes. Lower heat to LOW and add ½ can of water. Make sure water gets to bottom of mixture. You never want mixture to stick to bottom. Be very vigilant with stirring techniques. ☺

Add steamed cauliflower and steamed potatoes. Mash them up in the mixture but small chunks are desired.

Taste. Add more spices and s/p if desired. Add a little more water, ½ a can again.

Add peas and stir.

Raise heat to Med-Low and stir every few minutes, avoid bhaji sticking to the bottom.

Keep tasting the Bhaji. Add another ½ can of water and let it cook out. This will bring out more flavors. Add more spices if desired. Let Bhaji sit on low heat for as long as desired, the longer it cooks, the more the flavors will explode!

A new challenge

We got married back in March of this year. My husband is a foodie and one heck of a chef. He loves to cook, most times spending an additional 2 hours in the kitchen after a full work day. It's his hobby. I've been a pig in you -know-what as I am fed rich dishes rather often.
I, on the other hand, can follow a recipe like most monkeys but have just recently learned to use my senses to enhance dishes. It's a rewarding characteristic. But I believe it is my duty now, as a wife to an Indian-American, to learn how to cook Indian food. It gives me a challenge and will hopefully let me forget about any stress that may arise at work. And I will make my mother-in-law ever so happy, and there isn't anything wrong with that.

I've been reading The Hindi Bindi Club by Monica Pradhan. It is a sweet novel and is also filled with Indian recipes. The mothers in the book, all arriving in the US from India in the mid-to late '60s, add one or two recipes after their chapters, their daughters do the same. This past week as I indulged in pleasure reading, I began to crave Indian food. As our local restaurant, Royal India, usually can run $60+ for two of us, remember, husband is a foodie -there is little to stop him from eating, I realized the only way for us to eat like this is to make it ourselves. BLURGH!
A trip out to our local desi (day-shee) market, I picked up a few necessities. And yesterday I officially began this challenge.