Vegetarian, main dish, spicy, Maharashtrian
I was born in England and raised in the US, but my soul and spirit are completely Indian. Most of my childhood summers were spent in India, soaking up the culture and traditions of my heritage and creating memories that I will cherish forever. One of my fondest memories is sitting around the traditional Indian kitchens, fascinated by the flurry of culinary whirlwind activity occurring around me.
This recipe is from my maternal grandmother, late Shrimati Annapurna Divekar (1920-1994).
She was only one of the seven girls who graduated from high school in Belgaum in 1938, with high scores in English and Mathematics. But what I remember most about her is her cooking!
As a Maharashtrian who moved to Bangalore after she got married, she was highly skilled in cooking from both regions. She prepared her own fresh masalas daily and cooked everything from scratch. Vaangi Bhaat is a delicious one pot meal, a wonderful combination of eggplant and rice combined with lovely aromatic spices. This is a typical Maharashtrian specialty but enjoyed throughout Southern India as well. My grandmother made this dish whenever we visited; we would eat it with home-made papads (thin, crispy lentil wafers), a delicious combination.
For more of my recipes, visit http://indianfood.bellaonline.com/Site.asp.
- 2 cups of Basmati rice
- 2 Japanese eggplants (these are a firm variety that will stand up well to the cooking)
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp coriander seeds
- 2-3 dried red chilies
- ½ cup desiccated coconut flakes (unsweetened)
- 1 tsp garam masala (use kala or goda masala if available)
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
- 6-8 fresh curry leaves
- pinch of asafetida
- 1 Bay leaf
- salt, to taste
- 10-12 toasted, unsalted cashews (large pieces)
- 2 tbsp yogurt
- freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
- freshly grated coconut as a garnish (optional)
- 2-3 tbsp oil (vegetable or canola)
Wash and drain the rice thoroughly at least 1 hour prior to use.
In a small dry skillet on medium low heat, toast the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, dried red chilies and desiccated coconut. Stir fry until fragrant and lightly toasted. Be careful not to burn the spices. Remove quickly from the heat and add the garam masala. Let cool and using a spice grinder (or clean coffee grinder) grind the spices into a fine powder.
Just before needed, trim and cut the eggplant into even pieces (1 inch in size).
In a large deep skillet or soup pot on medium high heat, add the oil. When hot, add the black mustard seeds, asafetida and the fresh curry leaves. Next, add the rice and stir until well coated with the fragrant oil (about 2-3 minutes). Add the cashews, bay leaf, salt and the freshly ground spice mixture. Mix well to combine and add the eggplant pieces. Add 4 cups of water and bring to a good boil, cover and reduce the heat. Let simmer until done (around 10-12 minutes). Halfway through the cooking process, add the yogurt and carefully stir through the rice and eggplant mixture. The rice should be thoroughly cooked and the eggplant should be soft and tender. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and freshly grated coconut. Serve hot with papad and yogurt on the side.
© Sadhana Ginde, USA 2008
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