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Jan 072013

Smoky, smoldering and clandestine. That has been my affair with the guy named clove, ever since we got together for the Alu matar Smokin’.  We have been meeting off and on, more on than off for he is just too irresistible.  What’s not to like in a guy who makes me look like I am the greatest cook?  He makes me look good, oh yes he does!  But since it is a brand new year and I really don’t want to keep him a secret anymore, I am declaring it out loud.  This is going to be the year of clove in my kitchen.  There ! I said it.

In addition to the smoky pungent taste, the cloves have therapeutic properties and have some of the richest antioxidants of all spices.  And did I tell you that they act as wonderful breath fresheners?

A fire roasted eggplant is quite flavorful by itself.  The best baigan bharta  is made on smoldering coals or a wood fire. Slowly roasted eggplants on wood or coal fire have a taste that can just not be matched by any other method. However, cooking them on an open stove top flame comes a close second and so does roasting them in an oven. No matter which method you use, a baigan bharta with cloves added in takes it a few notches up.  The already smoky flavor gets matched with pungent smoky clove. The result is worth a try.

Serve this Roasted Egg plant dip (for want of a better description for baigan bharta) as a game day appetizer.  You will in fact make them stop watching the game for just a bit to ask you what’s in it 😉


Roasted Eggplant Dip – Baigan Bharta

Roasted Eggplant Dip – Baigan Bharta

Smoky, smoldering and sensational.


  • 2 Globe Eggplants
  • 1 C chopped onion
  • 1.5 C chopped tomato
  • 1/4 C chopped cilantro
  • salt to taste
  • 1/8 tsp clove powder
  • 1- 2 thai green chillies
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder/paprika/cayenne
  • 2 tbs chopped garlic
  • 1 tbs chopped ginger
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbs mustard oil
  • 1tsp mango powder (amchur)


    prepare the eggplants
  1. make deep incisions all around the eggplants and cook them on open flame/ grill.
  2. Alternately cut them in halves lengthwise, and roast cut side down in the oven at 450*F for 25- 30 min
  3. Once the eggplants are cooked through ( tender all through), allow them to cool off.
  4. Then peel the skin off and keep the eggplant aside.
  5. make the dip
  6. Heat the mustard oil and allow it get slightly smoky
  7. Reduce heat to medium and add the cumin and wait for it to splutter
  8. Add in the onions and let them cook until they get transparent and start browning on the sides.
  9. Add in the ginger and garlic and saute until garlic browns slightly.
  10. Add in turmeric, chillipowder, and tomatoes and cook for about 4- 5 minutes on medium heat.
  11. Add in the eggplants and mix well. Now add in the cilantro, green chillies, mango powder, salt and clove powder.
  12. Cook for another 2-3 minutes stirring every now and then, until everything mixes in well.
  13. Serve with strips of pita bread as a dip or with roti and dal as a side dish.

Jul 202012

For this weeks power foods blog group, I simply could not wait. My love for broccoli is well documented  here on Spiceroots and known among friends and family. While I have had to coax the family to eat broccoli, I never need to be asked to eat my lovely broccoli.  My daughter’s transformation to a broccoli lover after  the Roasted Broccoli omelet is phenomenal.  So when I asked her if she would like to eat a differently cooked broccoli, the answer was a big yes! Music to my ears.


As a mom it is important for me to instill healthy eating habits. Including all seasonal vegetables and fruits is one of them. This year, we are also learning to can and freeze produce. And we have successfully grown herbs in our patio garden. We feel it is an excellent achievement.  It has been fun making the first pickle out of beets and a jam out of strawberries and make a chutney from our home grown mint and cilantro.  Such activities make her ask question about food, what we are eating and why it is a power food.

The health benefits of broccoli especially its cancer fighting compounds called indoles that help prevent tumors of the stomach, prostrate and breast. And it has high amounts of carotenoids that sweep up cancer promoting free radicals. For that alone it is a power power food and then add in the high levels of fiber, good source of vit c, folate, potassium , iron  etc. It is a power power power food!

Please do check what everyone else in the power food blog group did with the power power broccoli.

38 Power Foods blog group focuses on one ingredient each week taking inspiration from the book ; Power Foods: 150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients from the editors of the whole living magazine. Each week we all come up with recipes, stories, articles to encourage eating nourishing food.

Who is we all ? The following wonderful people who make nourishing food and talk about it on their blogs.

Jill at Saucy Cooks;

Jeanette at jeanetteshealthyliving ;

Martha at Simply Nourished Living ;

Mireya at Myhealthyeatinghabits ;

Alyce at More time at the table ;

Sarah at everything in the kitchen sink;

Casey at BookCase foodie

Bambi at adobodownunder

Do check what they have come up with this week. Also, If you are a blogger and love the idea of being part of the 38 power foods, we would love to have you join us. Contact: Mireya(at) for details.


For today’s recipe I took the inspiration from Power Foods and made a wheat berry dish with broccoli. We ate it for lunch with a golden beet and goat cheese salad. 

Broccoli with Wheat berries and Eggplants


  • 1 C wheat berries ( soaked in a cup of water for 6- 7 hours)
  • 1C broccoli florets
  • 3 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 C yellow onion Diced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 C cherry tomatoes
  • 1 C diced eggplants
  • 1 C beetroot greens
  • 1 TBS fresh chopped oregano
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  1. Drain the soaked berries
  2. Bring one Cup of water to a boil, add the berries, simmer, cover, cook until all the water evaporates and the berries are tender.
  3. Heat the skillet and add in the oil along with onions. Cook until onions are translucent, add the eggplants and garlic.
  4. Cook until the eggplants are soft, then add all the vegetables and cook gently for a minute or so.
  5. Now add in the cooked berries and oregano, salt and pepper. Mix, cook for a couple of more minutes to let the flavors mix.
  6. Serve immediately.


You may steam and blanch the broccoli if you like to eat it that way. I love the crunch of a lightly cooked one.

Dec 102011


What does a girl do when she falls in love at the first bite? It’s hard enough to survive love at first sight- and those temptations are omnipresent – that cute little black dress, the stylish shoes that make the legs go on for ever, that sexy red handbag, the earrings with a dazzle – sigh! The list is endless and then a girl has to go and fall in love at first bite with Mirza Ghasemi.

It happened one night in a quaint little Persian restaurant. We place the order and on a whim decide to try Mirza Ghasemi for an appetizer.  Out it comes and is placed right next to some mouth watering lamb and chicken kebabs. And the girl looks at the simple looking dish and thinks – the best tasting dishes are the ones that don’t need too much styling and automatically reaches for it first. When everyone else was ooh aahing over skewers of lamb, she was falling deeply madly and irrevocably in love with this simple dish.

Then the girl comes back and yearns- first loves do that you know! So the girl texts her best friend “google” and seeks help and type Mirza Ghasemi and hopes for the best.  The Miss know it all google points her to Azita and her wonderful blog of recipes, memories and stories. And the girl could breathe again. The original recipe for Mirza Ghassemi was on Azita’s blog . !! The girl could Dance with Joy!

Azita does mention that adding onions would make it ‘not authentic’, but I felt I liked them better with Shallots – just the way they were served at the restaurant.

It is a quintessential Northern province dish based on its use of abundant garlic. From the shores of the Caspian sea to my home – Mirza Ghasemi!You have arrived!



Plan :

  • 1 small shallot
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 2 eggs – beaten
  • 1/2 C  chopped tomatoes [peel and chop]
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 heaped Tbs chopped garlic
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbs oil plus some to grease the tray



  1. Slit the eggplant lengthwise and put the cut side down on a pregreased baking sheet in an oven that has been preheated at 425*F
  2. spray some cooking oil on the skin side too and make some incisions.
  3. Cook for about 20 – 30 minutes. My oven takes about 25 minutes to cook these through
  4. Allow them to cool and then scoop out the meaty parts, leaving the peel on the tray
  5. Chop them fine and keep aside
  6. finely chop the shallot
  7. Heat up oil, saute the shallot until golden, add the garlic and allow it to cook until it changes color slightly. Dark is not handsome. Not in this case girls 😉
  8. Add in the eggplants, turmeric and cook until the liquid dries up.
  9. Now add the tomatoes and the salt and cook until everything blends well
  10. With your favorite spatula, make some space in the center of the pan by moving the eggplant mixture to the sides.
  11. This space is where the beaten eggs go in and settle in for a bit and then you stir the eggplants back into the space and mix them with the eggs
  12. Add in the pepper.
  13. Give it a taste test
  14. Then another taste test.
  15. What? We need to serve it? sigh! Give in after another taste test!

Gather some Warm pita bread / naan, lemon wedges and fresh herbs and plate the Mirza Ghasemi in the center and stand back to watch them finish this off in moments. Smile ! Because soon you will be on another enticing journey of  the culinary type.


Until then –

Stay Blessed. Stay in Love


May 312011


How does something so beautiful, glossy and downright gorgeous have the heavenly humility of complementing and balancing everything around it? Remember Ratatouille? What would Remy make if he had no aubergines to put in the dish? Aubergines as they are called in France, Brinjals as they are called in India and Eggplants as they are known in the US are terrific as complementary vegetable to a lot of ingredients. In the Indian cuisine we add them to almost everything. But once a while we let them shine on – All by themselves. They are after all drop-dead gorgeous in looks and terrific in taste.

The celebrated dish of Bharli Vangi requires elaborate preparations. It entails the precise blending of spices & various attentions to details just to make the very famous Goda Masala of Maharashtra. This masala, you then use with other spices and ingredients to make the Bharli Vaangi.  Now you can host a dinner party and cook Indian food and serve the same old paneer or potatoes to your vegetarian friends or you can go on a culinary expedition  and dazzle them with the fabulous Bharli Vaangi. The sweating it out in the kitchen is so worth the satisfied smile on their precious faces!

If you are going to do a lot of cooking with the goda masala, it is worth making a batch, else use a good prepackaged brand.  I have eaten many versions of this dish – some with only coconut, some with peanut and sesame and some with all. I prefer the one in which the nuts and sesame are all mixed in one. It adds to the complexity of the flavors.

Here is my version of this spectacular dish:

Serves 4- 6 as a side dish



  • 8  Eggplants (small purple ones)
  • 1/4thC fresh coconut (shredded)
  • 3 Tbs Roasted peanuts
  • 2 Tbs Sesame seeds
  • 1 Tbs Coriander
  • 1Tbs Cumin
  • 2 Tbs Goda Masala
  • 1 Tsp Tamarind pulp
  • 1 – 2 Tbs  grated Jaggery
  • 1-2 Tsp Chili powder ( based on how hot you like your food)
  • 1 Tsp chopped garlic
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • a pinch of asafoetida
  • salt to taste
  • 3- 4 Tbs oil
  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds


  • If you have raw peanuts, you need to dry roast them before you can proceed to the cooking part.
  • On medium heat, put the peanuts in a dry non stick pan and roast them until you see brown spots on the skin. Roasting them on medium low heat is important, because you don’t want them burnt yet raw.
  • Do the same thing with the sesame seeds.
  • Take your favorite grinder and put in the peanuts, sesame seeds, chili powder, salt, garlic, cumin seeds, coriander, tamarind,coconut and turmeric powder in it.
  • Grind to a fine paste, but do not add any water. The moisture from the garlic, tamarind and fresh coconut should help you out. Add in the Goda masala and the jaggery.
  • Leaving the stems on the eggplants, Make cross slits from top. It’s like you wanted to slit the eggplant into four, but you will leave it connected at the base.
  • Fill  the paste into slit eggplants, dividing the stuffing equally. You basically fill the gaps in the eggplants you just made. Here is how.
  • Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan and add the mustard seeds once the oil is hot and wait for them to crackle.
  • Lower heat and add the asafoetida.
  • Now put the eggplants in a single layer, cover and cook for about 8 minutes.
  • You do want to cook this on low medium heat.
  • After 8 minutes, uncover and turn the eggplants over.
  • Cover and cook again for 7- 8 minutes.
  • You may need to add some water – like a Tbs or so  if the eggplants seem to be sticking to the pans.
  • The dish is done when the eggplants are soft from within and cooked completely on all sides.

Enjoy with roti or bhakri !

Feb 012011

At the outset, I do not claim that this is an authentic Bagara Baingan – Stuffed Eggplants recipe. But sometimes, one must deviate from the norm and suit one’s own palate and that of one’s dearest friends. This recipe has an interesting anecdote attached. I had invited my friend Jen over for some Indian lunch. Actually,  we planned to cook and enjoy it together. For some weird reason I decided to make stuffed eggplants as one of the dishes for the day. I had no idea what Jen liked as we were just getting to know one another and wisdom suggested that I stick to a known fare for the American palate … like the mushy saag paneer or samosa or something like that. But I wouldn’t be me and you wouldn’t be hearing this story if I followed time tested wisdom (there is a thought)!

So I get the ingredients ready and made careful measure adjustments of a few things like chilies and addition of onions. It worked wonderfully and we both liked Bagara Baingan – Stuffed Eggplants. But I must commend Jen for her love of adventurous eating. I would not have been able to pull this dish off as a first time introduction to traditional Indian food on someone else.

Here is the recipe for you Jen. Keep the love of cooking stoked. I can’t wait to see you back in the states!


  • 10 – 12              small eggplants
  • ½ cup                roasted peanuts
  • 1 tbs                   toasted sesame seeds
  • 2                         dried red chillies
  • 1 tsp                   kashmiri chili powder
  • 1 tsp                   salt ( or to taste)
  • ¼ C                    minced onion
  • 1 tsp                   ginger garlic paste
  • 4 tbs+ 1 Tsp     sesame oil
  • 3-4                     curry leaves
  • 1tsp                   coriander powder
  • ¼ tsp                 cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp                 turmeric powder
  • 2                          cloves
  • 1tbs                    tamarind concentrate


  • If you have raw peanuts, you need to dry roast them before you can proceed to the cooking part.
  • On medium heat, put the peanuts in a dry non stick pan and roast them until you see brown spots on the skin. Roasting them on medium low heat is important, because you don’t want them burnt yet raw.
  • Do the same thing with the sesame seeds.
  • Now slightly fry the onions in one tsp of oil. Cook on low heat until browned.
  • Take your grinder and put in the peanuts, sesame seeds, dried chilies, chili powder, salt, onions, ginger garlic paste, cumin seeds, coriander powder, cloves, and tamarind and turmeric powder in it.
  • Grind to a fine paste, but do not add any water. The moisture from the onions and ginger garlic and tamarind should do the trick.
  • Divide this paste into two portions.
  • Leaving the stems on the eggplants, Make cross slits from top. It’s like you wanted to slit the eggplant into four, but you will leave it connected at the base.
  • Using one half of the stuffing fill in slit eggplants, dividing the stuffing equally. You basically fill the gaps you just made.

here is how :

  • Heat the remaining sesame oil in a non stick pan and carefully lower eggplants, one at a time into the pan.  Do not over crowd the pan. Cook on medium heat for about 3- 4 minutes and then gently turn the eggplants on to the other side.
  • When the eggplants are cooked thoroughly, they would appear slightly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.
  • Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon. There should be some residual oil in the pan , if not.. add a few drops of oil.Now add the curry leaves and  second part of the filling into the pan. There should be some residual oil in the pan.
  • Saute and add 2 cups of water. Mix it all together and bring it a rolling boil
  • Lower the heat, add the egg plants back into the pan, cook for 15 minutes on medium heat or until the gravy thickens and eggplants are done and you see a little oil separating on top.
  • I eat it with plain boiled rice.. you may chose any other carbs to go with it.

May 032010


Tamatar Vangun

Paired with plain white boiled rice, this fiery looking Eggplants in tomato sauce is my favorite Kashmiri egg plant dish.  Tangy, spicy and not at all heavy, despite the rigorous frying of the eggplants. How? The trick is to fry the eggplants at just the right temperature.  Too hot and they will burn on the outside, too low and they will absorb all the oil.

So what’s the right temperature? About 350*F .  You may want to use a thermometer or simply do what I do. Add a tiny piece of the eggplant into the oil. If it sinks, the oil is not ready. If it fries and comes up fast, the oil is way too hot. What you are looking for is a piece of eggplant, frying up and reaching the top slow and steady. Confused? Well use the thermometer 🙂

I know the word frying daunts some of us who “need to” Have to” and “Must” watch what we eat.  For those of us who need to do that, you can simply grill the eggplants and follow the same recipe.

Tamatar waangun


  • 1 lb small egg plants (or similar sized egg plants)
  • 1 lb tomatoes
  • 2 tsp kashmiri chilli powder ( less if you prefer a mild dish)
  • A pinch of asafoetida
  • 1/2 tsp fennel powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1 C oil for frying
  • 1 tbs Mustard oil
  • A few thai green chillies


  1. Slice the eggplants in quarters leaving the stems on
  2. heat oil in a wok/ kadai and fry the eggplants in small batches (about 3- 4 per batch). Do not crowd the wok with too many eggplants at a time. This appears time consuming, but being patient produces amazing results.
  3. Fry the eggplants until they get a golden hue
  4. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon. Repeat for the rest of the eggplants.
  5. Heat the mustard oil in a non stick pan, until it smokes. Reduce heat and add the tomatoes and the asafoetida.
  6. Stir, cover and cook the tomatoes until oil separates. About 5 minutes on medium heat.
  7. Add the salt, chilli powder and the fennel powder. Stir. Cook covered for another two minutes.
  8. Add in a cup of water and bring to a boil. Add the fried eggplants, cover and cook for 5 more minutes.
  9. Serve with plain boiled rice or and a side of Dal.