Pressure Cooker Baingan Bharta| Indian Spiced Eggplant Mash

For many, I am sure the name ‘Baingan Bharta‘ conjures up images of slow-cooked, delicious, hearty meals, often prepared by a loving mother or a doting grandmother. Baingan Bharta or eggplant mash made the Indian way is comfort food for a whole lot of locals. It is, for me too, but the smell I associate with Baingan Bharta is different from the usual.

Let me explain. Baingan Bharta is typically cooked by char-grilling a large eggplant on the stove till the skin blackens and the flesh within starts falling apart. The skin is then peeled away, and the flesh mashed and cooked in a pan, with various spices added to it. A smoky flavour permeates the dish, thanks to the char-grilling. This ‘smokiness’ is what most people look forward to, in a dish of Baingan Bharta. My version, which I learnt from my mom, does away with the char-grilling – here, the eggplant is cooked in a pressure cooker, then mashed and again cooked on the stovetop. There is no smoky flavour in our Pressure Cooker Baingan Bharta, but let me assure you that it is equally delicious.

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The pressure cooker method is faster and a whole lot less messy than the char-grilling method. It does not leave you with a messy stove that takes ages to clean up, afterwards. Also, since you cut upon the eggplant before pressure cooking it, you can always check for worms (they do have a way of getting in, in spite of no visible holes in the vegetable – eeks!). If you are not a fan of the ‘smokiness’, like the husband, this pressure cooker method works beautifully. Even if you do, do try out this version too – the result is so finger-licking delish that I’m sure you will like this as well. 🙂

Amma‘s secret ingredient in this Pressure Cooker is a wee bit of tamarind paste. It adds a whole lot of flavour to the dish – trust me on that! Purists can baulk all they want, but I will continue to love this method just as much. I grew up with this, after all. Now, this reigns supreme in my household, too.

Enough said. Let’s now check out the recipe, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

  1. 1 large purple eggplant
  2. 6 medium-sized tomatoes
  3. 2 medium-sized onions
  4. 6-7 cloves of garlic
  5. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  6. A small piece of tamarind (optional)
  7. 2 tablespoons oil
  8. 2 generous pinches of asafoetida (hing)
  9. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
  10. Salt to taste
  11. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  12. About 3/4 tablespoon garam masala or to taste
  13. Red chilli powder to taste
  14. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
  15. Salted butter as needed, to garnish (optional)

Method:

  1. Chop off the stem of the eggplant and peel it. Chop into large pieces.
  2. Take the chopped eggplant in a wide vessel and add in about 1/2 cup of water. Add a little salt. Place the vessel in the pressure cooker. Pressure cook for 4 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.
  3. Meanwhile, peel the ginger, garlic and onion. Chop the garlic and onion finely. Grate the ginger finely. Keep aside.
  4. Chop the tomatoes finely. Keep aside.
  5. Soak the tamarind (if using) in a little hot water for about 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, extract a thick paste from the tamarind. Keep aside.
  6. When the pressure in the cooker has gone down entirely, open it and get the cooked eggplant out. Discard the water the eggplant was cooked in. Mash the cooked eggplant using a masher, and keep ready.
  7. Heat oil in a pan. Add in the cumin seeds and the asafoetida. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.
  8. Add the chopped onions to the pan. Saute on medium flame till the onions begin to change colour.
  9. Add the grated ginger, chopped garlic and tomatoes to the pan. Cook on medium flame till the tomatoes turn mushy, about 2 minutes.
  10. Now, add the mashed eggplant, salt and red chilli powder to taste, turmeric powder, garam masala and the tamarind paste (if using). Mix well.
  11. Stirring intermittently, cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the mixture comes together well.
  12. Switch off gas. Mix in the finely chopped coriander. Your Pressure Cooker Baingan Bharta is done! Serve hot or at room temperature, garnished with slivers of salted butter, alongside rotis, parathas or dosas. Baingan Bharta goes especially well with makke di roti aka rotis made using cornmeal flour.

Notes:

  1. For best results, use a fresh eggplant that is firm, with shiny and non-wrinkled skin. Make sure the eggplant has no holes in it, while you buy it – holes might indicate the entry of worms.
  2. Buy an eggplant that is light in weight in spite of its large size. This usually indicates that it will have fewer seeds and, hence, well suited to the making of Baingan Bharta.
  3. You may choose to add in the water in which the eggplant was cooked, too. In that case, you will have to cook the Baingan Bharta a little longer, till all the water is absorbed.
  4. I use ordinary refined oil to make this Pressure Cooker Baingan Bharta. Some people use mustard oil or ghee instead.
  5. I use country (nati) tomatoes in this Indian Spiced Eggplant Mash, which are more sour than farm-grown ones. If they are sour enough, you can avoid using the tamarind altogether. I usually add both the tomatoes and the tamarind, since we like our Baingan Bharta to be tangier than usual.
  6. Use only a very small piece of tamarind to sour the Baingan Bharta. You may use lemon juice as needed, instead, too.
  7. Chana masala or a mix of coriander powder and roasted cumin powder can be used in place of garam masala.
  8. Make sure the eggplant is cooked well before mashing it and adding it to the pan. Cooking times might vary depending upon the water used, size of the eggplant, and make of the cooker. For us, 4 whistles works perfectly.
  9. Adjust the quantity of salt, garam masala and red chilli powder, as per personal taste preferences.
  10. If you do not plan to use the Pressure Cooker Baingan Bharta immediately, allow it to cool down completely and then store it in a clean, dry, air-tight container, refrigerated. This way, it stays for 4-5 days.
  11. We typically eat Baingan Bharta with rotis, parathas or dosas. However, you can also use it as a dip for crackers or as a sandwich spread.
  12. My mom uses a whole lot of oil in making this dish – she says this is one of those dishes that tastes best when cooked in a lot of oil. I disagree. 😛 I stick to about 2 tablespoons of oil while making this, and it still tastes equally delicious! Mom also prefers avoiding the garam masala, keeping the Baingan Bharta very basic – using just salt, turmeric powder and red chilli powder. I like adding either chana masala or garam masala – we prefer it this way.

Did you like the recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

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A to Z Recipe Challenge

This post is for the A-Z Recipe Challenge. The challenge was initiated on a Facebook Group, wherein a group of bloggers come together and we choose key ingredients alphabetically to cook and post a dish every alternate month. This month’s Alphabet is ‘E’ and I decided to use ‘Eggplants’ as my star ingredient.

I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #257. The co-hosts this week are Suzanne @ Frugal Hausfraualupinthekitchen and Kat @ Kat’s 9 Lives.

Drumstick Leaves Roti| Murunga Keerai Roti

The fact that moringa aka drumstick leaves are loaded with health benefits is very well known.

  • The greens are a rich source of Vitamin A, B6, B12, C and E, apart from possessing a high content of protein and calcium, iron and beta carotene, magnesium and chlorogenic acid.
  • Drumstick leaves aid in hair care and skin care, preventing neurological disorders Alzheimer’s Disease, alleviating pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), lowering cholesterol levels and improving one’s vision.
  • They also aid slow ageing, lower the risk of cancer, and help the body in fighting against toxins that air pollution throws at us.
  • Apart from this, moringa greens also help in fighting inflammation, promoting bone and cardiovascular health, protecting the liver, aid in wound healing, help in keeping anxiety and depression at bay, and also help one in combating diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and asthma.

Any wonder they are being touted as a ‘super food’?

I try to include moringa greens or drumstick leaves (‘Murunga Keerai‘ in Tamil) in our meals at least once every two weeks. There are several things I use these drumstick leaves in – I add them to uttapams and adais, I use them in sambar and dal tadka, or in a South Indian-style poriyal. One of my family’s most favourite ways to consume these greens is in a roti!

Drumstick Leaves Rotis are extremely easy to make, but super delicious, not to forget healthy. I add a lot of ingredients to these rotis, so they can be eaten on their own and don’t really need any accompaniment. This makes the rotis an ideal candidate for busy weekday lunches or dinners.

Ingredients (yields about 15 parathas):

  1. 2 cups whole wheat flour
  2. 1 tightly packed cup drumstick leaves
  3. A fistful of fresh coriander leaves
  4. 1 medium-sized onion
  5. Salt to taste
  6. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  7. 2 generous pinches of asafoetida (hing)
  8. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  9. 3 green chillies
  10. 5-6 cloves of garlic
  11. 2-3 tablespoons powdered jaggery or to taste (optional)
  12. Red chilli powder to taste (optional)
  13. 1 tablespoon nigella seeds (kalonji)
  14. 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (til)
  15. 1 tablespoon cumin seeds (jeera)
  16. 1/4 cup sour curd or 2 tablespoons amchoor powder (optional)
  17. 1 tablespoon oil + more to make the rotis

Method:

1. Wash the drumstick leaves well under running water. Chop them roughly and keep aside.

2. Chop the onion finely. Keep aside.

3. Chop the coriander finely. Keep aside.

4. Peel the ginger and chop finely. Peel the garlic cloves and chop finely. Chop the green chillies finely. Grind the ginger, garlic and green chillies together to a paste, using a little water. Keep aside.

5. Take the whole wheat flour in a large mixing bowl. Add salt to taste, turmeric powder, red chilli powder (if using), asafoetida, sesame seeds, cumin seeds, nigella seeds, powdered jaggery (if using), 1 tablespoon oil, and amchoor powder or sour curd (if using).

6. Add the finely chopped coriander and onions, the ginger-green chillies-garlic paste, and the chopped drumstick leaves to the mixing bowl.

7. Bind the ingredients in the mixing bowl together into a soft dough, using a little water if needed. Knead for a couple of minutes. Cover, and let the dough rest for 15-20 minutes.

8. Heat a thick dosa pan on high heat. Meanwhile, take one small ball of the dough, place it on a floured work surface, and roll it out into an even roti.

9. When the dosa pan is nice and hot, turn the flame to medium. Place the rolled-out roti on the pan, and spread a little oil all around it. Cook on medium flame till it gets brown on the bottom. Now, flip the roti over, and cook till done on the other side as well. Transfer to a serving plate.

10. Prepare all the Drumstick Leaves Rotis in a similar manner. Serve hot on their own or with raita, pickle, curry or any other accompaniment of your choice.

Notes:

  1. For best results, use tender drumstick leaves that aren’t overly mature. Leave the bunch of drumstick greens wrapped in a newspaper or in a paper bag, outside at room temperature, overnight. Most of the leaves would have fallen off by morning – this is an easy way to separate the tiny leaves from the stems.
  2. The use of jaggery and curd or amchoor powder is purely optional. You can skip these ingredients too, and keep the parathas really simple. I would personally suggest using them, though, for they add a lovely taste to the rotis.
  3. Moringa or drumstick leaves can be a bit difficult to digest, especially for children. This is why it is crucial to use tender greens to make these Drumstick Leaves Rotis. If the leaves you have are a bit tough, you can chop them roughly and saute them a bit, before using them in making these rotis.
  4. Use a heavy dosa pan to make these Murunga Keerai Roti. Get the pan nice and hot, till drops of water sprinkled on it dance, then ensure that you turn the flame down to medium. Cook the rotis on medium flame on both sides. This will ensure even cooking, without the rotis getting burnt.
  5. Adjust the quantity of green chillies, salt, jaggery and garlic that you use, depending upon personal taste preferences.
  6. Add in red chilli powder if you want, if you feel the heat from the green chillies isn’t enough. I usually use only green chillies in making these Murunga Keerai Roti – I skip the red chilli powder entirely.
  7. The dough should be soft and pliable, but not sticky, for best results.

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This post is for the A-Z Recipe Challenge. The A to Z challenge was initiated on a Facebook Group, wherein a group of bloggers come together and choose key ingredients alphabetically to cook and post a dish every alternate month. This month’s Alphabet is ‘D‘, and I chose Drumstick Leaves as my key ingredient. I decided to make these Drumstick Leaves Rotis with them.

A to Z Recipe Challenge

I’m sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #249. The co-hosts this week are Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog.

Pressure Cooker Chana Masala| Indian Chickpea Curry

Do you like Chana Masala?

Chana Masala is my go-to dish when I want to eat something different from the usual South Indian fare we make at home. Considering that it is a hot favourite with everyone in the family, it does find pride of place on our dining table quite often. More often than not, I make a big batch of chana masala, serving it with rotis or parathas, while I use the leftovers the next day to make chaat.

Like my mom, I make Chana Masala in a pressure cooker, which ensures that the dish is ready in a jiffy, with the least of hassle. This Pressure Cooker Chana Masala is super delish, the chickpeas absorbing the flavours from the gravy much better than those cooked in a pan. Using a pressure cooker also ensures that the chickpeas are done just right, without any over- or under-cooking.

Let’s check out the recipe for Pressure Cooker Chana Masala now, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

  1. 1-1/2 cups chickpeas aka kabuli chana
  2. 4 medium-sized tomatoes
  3. 1 large onion
  4. 5-6 cloves of garlic
  5. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  6. 1 tablespoon oil
  7. 1 teaspoon cumin (jeera)
  8. 2 pinches asafoetida (hing)
  9. Salt, to taste
  10. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  11. 1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste (optional)
  12. Red chilli powder, to taste
  13. 2-3 tablespoons of chana masala, or to taste
  14. 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander
  15. 1 tablespoon kasoori methi

Method:

  1. Soak the chickpeas in just enough water to cover them, for 8-10 hours or overnight.
  2. When the chickpeas are done soaking, drain out any remaining water from them. Add in just enough fresh water to cover them, and pressure cook them for 4 whistles on high flame. Let the pressure come down naturally.
  3. Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes into quarters. Peel and chop the ginger. Peel the garlic cloves. Grind the tomatoes, ginger and garlic together into a puree. Keep aside.
  4. Chop the onion finely. Keep aside.
  5. When the pressure has released from the cooker, open it. Keep the cooked chickpeas aside. Do not discard the water.
  6. Heat the oil in a pressure cooker base. Add in the cumin and asafoetida, and let them stay in for a couple of seconds.
  7. Add the chopped onions. Saute till the onions begin to turn brown.
  8. Add the tomato-ginger-garlic puree. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or till the raw smell from the tomatoes goes away and the puree thickens a little.
  9. Add in the cooked chickpeas, along with the water they were cooked in.
  10. Add salt to taste, chana masala, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and sugar. Mix well.
  11. Close pressure cooker and put the weight on. Pressure cook for 4 whistles on high flame. Switch off gas, and let the pressure release naturally.
  12. After the pressure has gone down, mix in the finely chopped coriander and kasoori methi. Serve hot, with rotis, dosas, pooris, steamed rice or parathas. Sliced onions and wedges of lemon make for great accompaniments.

Notes:

  1. Garam masala can be used in place of chana masala. I use store-bought chana masala from Eastern or Everest.
  2. I use country aka nati tomatoes to make this Pressure Cooker Chana Masala. Considering these tomatoes are quite sour, I do not add any lemon juice to the gravy. If you feel you need a bit more sourness to the gravy, you can add in a dash of lemon juice.
  3. A dash or curd or fresh cream can also be added to this Pressure Cooker Chana Masala, towards the end.
  4. I pressure cook the chickpeas first, before using them in making this Chana Masala. I then pressure cook them again, after adding all the other ingredients to them. This ensures that the chickpeas are cooked evenly, and that they absorb all the spices well.
  5. If you think the gravy is too liquidy after cooking, you may let it simmer for a couple of minutes on medium flame, before adding in the coriander and kasoori methi.
  6. If you feel the water reserved from cooking the chickpeas is too much, you can discard some of it, and add only the remaining to the gravy.
  7. You may avoid ginger and garlic in this gravy, if you want to. Personally, though, I think they add a nice fragrance to it.
  8. Adding the sugar to the Pressure Cooker Chana Masala is optional, but I would recommend you to not skip it. The sugar doesn’t make the gravy overly sweet, but rather rounds off the sourness of the tomatoes and the spiciness of the red chilli powder very well.
  9. Any leftover Pressure Cooker Chana Masala can be refrigerated and used later to make Ragda Pattice or in various types of chaat.
  10. You can add in whole spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and bay leaves to the tempering, along with the cumin. I skip these, because we like the Chana Masala without these ingredients.
  11. I use a 5-litre pressure cooker to make this Pressure Cooker Chana Masala. 4 whistles + 4 whistles is just perfect for the chickpeas to cook till soft, without getting mushy. The number of whistles you need might vary, depending upon the size and make of your pressure cooker.

Did you like this recipe for Pressure Cooker Chana Masala? Do tell me, in your comments!

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A to Z Recipe Challenge

This post is for the A-Z Recipe Challenge. The A to Z challenge was initiated on a Facebook Group, wherein a group of bloggers come together and choose key ingredients alphabetically to cook and post a dish every alternate month.. This month’s Alphabet is ‘C’ and I decided to make this Pressure Cooker Chana Masala.

I’m sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #241. The co-hosts this week are Zeba @ Food For The Soul and Debanita @ Canvassed Recipes.

Beetroot Poriyal| South Indian Beetroot Stir-Fry

Beetroot Poriyal is an absolute favourite in our household. We love having it with piping hot sambar or rasam and rice – often a weekend special lunch at home! 🙂

Beetroot and coconut is a match made in heaven, I think, and this South Indian-style stir-fry incorporates that very combination. The addition of curry leaves, mustard and green chillies elevates the taste of the dish to a whole new level. It is amazing how this Beetroot Poriyal uses a few ingredients, and how it can be put together so very easily, but is so delicious!

Here is how we make this easy-peas Beetroot Poriyal.

Ingredients (3-4 servings):

  1. 2 large beetroots
  2. Salt, to taste
  3. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  4. 2 green chillies
  5. 1/3 cup fresh grated coconut
  6. 2 teaspoons sugar or to taste (optional)
  7. 1 teaspoon oil
  8. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  9. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  10. 1 sprig fresh curry leaves

Method:

  1. Peel the beetroot and chop finely.
  2. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the mustard seeds, and let them pop. Now, add the asafoetida to the pan, and let it stay in for a couple of seconds.
  3. Add the finely chopped beetroot to the pan. Add a little water, salt and turmeric powder. Cook, covered, on medium flame till the beetroot is done but still retains a bit of a crunch. Stir intermittently, to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add in a bit more water if necessary. It should take about 5 minutes.
  4. In the meanwhile, chop the green chillies and add them in a mixer jar. Add the fresh grated coconut too. Pulse a couple of times or till you get a dry coconut-chilly paste. Keep aside.
  5. Separate the curry leaves from the stem. Keep aside.
  6. When the beetroot is cooked with a bit of a crunch, remove the lid. Keeping the flame on medium, add in the sugar (if using), the curry leaves and the coconut-green chilly paste to the pan. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
  7. Cook the Beetroot Poriyal on medium flame, uncovered, till the bite in the beetroot is gone and it is well cooked – this should take a couple of minutes. Done!

Note:

  1. Choose beetroot that is very fresh and firm, for best results.
  2. Beetroot is naturally sweet, so there is no need to add sugar to this stir-fry, really. We are also adding fresh coconut to it, which has a sweetness of its own. Sometimes, though, the beetroot might not be sweet naturally, in which case you can add in a bit of sugar to taste.
  3. Chop the beetroot finely, into small cubes, for the curry to cook well and fast.
  4. Remember to cook the curry on medium flame, first covered and then uncovered, to prevent any burning and to ensure even cooking. Add in only a little water initially to cook the beetroot in.
  5. Adjust the quantity of green chillies and coconut you use, depending upon your personal taste preferences. You can add as much or as little of it as you want.
  6. Finely chopped fresh coriander can be added to the Beetroot Poriyal too, if you want, as can finely chopped onions and shelled green peas. I usually skip these.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

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A to Z Recipe Challenge

This post is for the A-Z Recipe Challenge. The A to Z challenge was initiated on a Facebook Group, wherein a group of bloggers come together and we choose key ingredients alphabetically to cook and post a dish every alternate month.. This month’s Alphabet is ‘B’ and I decided to make/cook Beetroot Poriyal.

I’m sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #231. The co-hosts this week are Antonia @ Zoale.com and Laurena @ Life Diet Health.