Monday, November 28, 2011

Begun Chingri - Eggplant cooked in Shrimp Paste

BegunChingriBahar1, Begun Chingri, Begun Bahar,  Eggplant Cooked in shrimp paste

Begun Chingri | Begun Bahar

This is not  a traditional recipe, more of a delicious innovation, where eggplant is cooked with shrimp paste. It has the goodness of fried eggplant or Begun Bhaja elevated to soaring heights with some fresh shrimp paste. If anyone happens to copy this and pass it off as their Grandmother's recipe, less power to you!

This is my Sister-in-law's recipe.

Actually her innovation. She invented this thing. Including the nomenclature. Called it "Begun Bahar" (or was it "Begum Bahar").

Then she sent me an e-mail. This is what her mail read. Ditto.

"Bengan Bahaar (amaar deo naam )

Fry shrimp with salt and haldi keep it aside.Fry the begun as we do begun bhaja and keep aside.

Grind cut onion ginger garlic and tomato fry them with haldi mirchi and little dhania and jeera powder.
then grind the shrimp and the fried masala with sarso /methi seeds . Sprinle salt and saute the whole thing with the begun bhaja for sometime till the colour changes to deep red /orange and nice smell comes out. Garnish with coriander and squeeze lemon juice on top before removing.
I am sure you guys will love this . I feel really nice to "invent" a new dish hehehehee "

Why she is laughing I do not know. She really did "invent".


Can you see the e-mail now ?

I have full faith in her and so I got two eggplants from the Farmers Market. One of them was destined to be turned into exotic "Begun Bahar" with sequined zari ghungat and kohl lined eyes. Reminds me of Meena Kumari but really this was just eggplant, whatever you might call it.

The dish turned out to be truly, really lovely. The freshly ground shrimp paste does wonderful things if you do not know. The silky, fleshy eggplant is beautifully complemented with the shrimp paste. I am eating the leftovers for lunch right now and OMG I think you should totally make it.
Begun Chingri, Begun Bahar,  Eggplant Cooked in shrimp paste

Shoo now....get moving. Get that darn eggplant, man. And oh yeah, I called it Begun Chingri, stick with Baingan Bahar if you must though.


Begun Chingri -- Eggplant cooked in shrimp paste

What You Need

Eggplant/Begun -- 1 medium sized or 2 slender Japanese Eggplant

Onion -- 1 Cups of chopped onion
Garlic paste -- 1 tsp (or 6 Cloves of Garlic)
Ginger Paste -- 1 tsp (or 1" of  Ginger chopped)

Tomato -- 1 medium chopped small
Green Chili(hot Indian ones) -- 4-6

Cumin Powder -- 1 tsp
Coriander Powder -- 1 tsp

Kashmiri Mirch -- 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp

Mustard Seeds -- 1/2 tsp
Methi Seeds -- 1/2 tsp

Shrimp -- 12-15 medium sized shrimp, peeled and deveined

Corriander -- fresh chopped about a fistful
Lime Juice -- 1 tsp

How I Did It

Chop eggplant in 3"x1" thin slices. Soak in salt water for 20-30 minutes. Drain water and sprinkle the eggplants with salt and a tsp of Turmeric powder.

Fry the eggplants. How you fry the eggplant is kind of up to you. Ideally it should be fried in enough oil. If you are a health freak like me, you will pan fry them. If you are a more serious freak, you might brush them with oil and bake/broil them. Whatever you want to do, do it. Then remove and keep the fried eggplants aside.

Lightly saute the shrimps with salt and turmeric powder. Remove and keep aside.

Fry the onions till golden brown. Add to it
1tsp Cumin Powder
1 tsp Coriander Powder
1 tsp of Red Chili Powder
Saute for a minute

Next add
1 medium tomato finely chopped
+ 4 green chili
Fry till tomato is all mushed up. Cool and make a paste of this masala (onion+tomato+ everything else).

Make a coarse paste of the sauteed shrimp. Remove and keep aside.

Heat some more oil in the fry pan. Temper the oil with
1/2 tsp of Mustard seeds
+ 1/4 tsp of Methi seeds

When the spices start sputtering and getting fragrant add the onion+tomato masala paste. Saute the masala till you see the oil leaving from the edges. Next add the shrimp paste and saute for about 4-5 minutes. Add the fried eggplants slices and mix with the masala. Add salt to taste. Add a little water, say about about 1/3rd Cup. At low medium heat cook for about 5-6 minutes. At the end of this you will see oil surfacing.

Garnish with chopped coriander and 1 tsp of lime juice. Serve with roti or rice.

Check this for Cutlery and Cutlery Sets

Monday, November 21, 2011

Baked Caramel Pudding -- or a Flan


I had no Plan

To make a Flan

Okay, bad joke. Granted.

Without wasting any more time, let me go onto the recipe. But let me tell you I actually wanted to make a steamed Caramel Pudding the kind my/your/neighbor's Mom used to do in India, right in the Pressure Cooker. I did not know about Flan but again I DID NOT want to use the pressure cooker. I am not too sure with the cooker when it comes to these sort of things. But I found this . So it all worked out for the good.


I have used the oven and a water bath which is very different from the bird bath. The water bath creates a steaming sauna like effect in the oven and provides a steady uniform heat source which lets stuff like puddings and custards slowly cook. The moisture prevents them from getting dry and rubbery. So, there.

The Caramel Pudding or Flan, as you like it, was really delicious.The orange zest gave a lovely flavor to the pudding. It was silky, smooth and oh so perfect sliding down my mouth. I made some changes to the recipes I followed and I am totally happy with what I got.

You can use ramekins to make individual servings. I needed a serving of at least 10 and so decided to make one whole pudding which I then cut and served.

Make it for the Holidays. Your guests are going to love it. Have a great Thanksgiving


Baked Caramel Pudding or Flan

Recipe adapted from here and here. Serves 10.

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Heat 1/2 cup sugar with 1/4 cup water in a heavy flat skillet, swishing constantly until it melts and turns a dark golden color. The color as I learned depends on how you want your caramel to taste. A dark brown will have a little bitter taste which in my case perfectly complemented the sweet pudding. If you want a milder taste, go with golden brown color. Also it is best to use a shallow pan than a sauce pan for making the caramel sauce. The D-man did this part and he was really good at it.


Remove from heat and immediately pour into a round baking dish(I used a 6" Corning French white). Swish the liquid around so it evenly coats the bottom. You can also use oven proof ramekins(about 8 should be good for this measure)

In a large mixing bowl, lightly beat 4 eggs.

Stir in
2 cups Whole milk(Better if you use Evaporated Milk),
1 Cup Condensed Milk,
1 tsp vanilla
Beat lightly with a whisk to get a smooth mix. You can taste and check the sweetness at this point.
Note: Original recipe called for 3 cups whole milk, 1/2 cup sugar and 6 eggs.I did my changes as noted here.

1 tbsp orange zest and mix it in. This does lend a beautiful citrus flavor.

By now the caramel would have set in the baking dish. Pour the egg mix in it.

Put the baking dish(or ramekins) in an oven safe tray(this will serve as the water bath). Pour hot water in the oven safe tray(around the baking dish) so that it comes almost half way up of the baking dish.

Put in the oven. It is now pre-heated.

Bake at 325F for 65-80minutes or until a knife comes out clean. The pudding will look a little jiggly but that is fine. Carefully take it out from the oven. Be careful with the water bath, the water will be hot !!! Take the baking dish out of the water bath and let it cool on the counter top.Once completely cool put in the refrigerator and chill for 6-8 hours (I did overnight)

While serving you have to un-mold. Run a knife around the edge of the bowl. Cover the bowl with a flat serving plate. Holding the plate, flip the whole thing. Tap the baking dish to loosen the pudding. It will slip onto the plate and the delicious caramel sauce will be all around. Spoon some of that sauce onto the pudding and chill further till serving or serve immediately.


If you also want to create yummy desserts like this flan, some online colleges offer culinary classes .

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

All I want is some Tea and Then some Time to drink it

Got up 20 mins later than usual.It was a chaos.While was frantically trying to rush out in time had a squabble with BigSis who was waiting for her school bus.

"I won't tell you the fun thing we had in Social Studies", she said, still mad at me.

I ignored. I was late. The fuel indicator in my car was blinking furiously. I would not be able to beat the traffic today, my mind said.

Big Sis waited and then finally blurted out "I know Prime Meridian and Anti Meridian. Nyah, nyah, nyah nyah". She made faces at me.

I itched to ask more but my Geography is rusted. I need to do my homework. Now.

So today I will read Geography, I will go deep into International Date line and around Greenwich. I will not write my blog or read another one.At lunch when everyone will munch a sandwich I will walk longitudes.

And then I will wait for a day when I can drink tea in the setting sun and read Amanda Hesser's "Cooking for Mr.Latte" in peace. Personally I like that better than Geography.


For Susan's Black & White Wednesday.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Vegetable Biryani - in Microwave


Some people are dumb and then some are dumber. Always one way or the other.And then there are some who will not only act dumb but also tell the whole world about their "dumbness" as if that was the one thing the world wanted to know. In reality, the world could care less.

But I fall in the last category. I like to talk about my very own dumbness because I think it might act as a pep pill for anyone who is having a dumber time.When you have just tagged your boss on an office party picture he wasn't invited at and then unfriended him on FB; when you are feeling all time low because you just asked your daughter's teacher about her husband and she says she recently divorced to which you say "Good for him"; you desperately need some one dumber than you.

I do that for you; that is social work for me. Listen on.

Now remember the giveaway I had on my blog some time earlier ? Miri of Peppermill Recipes won it. On her suggestion I made the promised donation through GiveIndia (an excellent way to donate by the way) and then went on to FlipKart to order the book for her.

Click, Click, Click and Ka-boom. What did I do ? I clicked on "Cash-on Delivery option" that Flipkart has. And when did I realize that ? When I saw it right on the Order Status. By then the book had been put into a packet, bubble wrapped and was waiting at some book warehouse facility, spic, span and ready to be shipped.The carrier guy had been informed to extort the money from the receiver which in this case was Miri, the winner, ta-da.

So here I was gifting a "gift" to someone and asking "her" to pay for it. Perfect.

I balked, screamed and then went into action like Yoda. I e-mailed flipkart, I wrote on their Facebook wall, I held press conferences (okay, not that one). Also I mailed Miri telling her not to cough up any money to any unknown person knocking on her door with a book, any book. Flipkart got back politely, saying they will cancel the order. I breathed deep.

The next day, I got a mail saying, "The book has left Delhi and will be at the given address by so&so". "Hello ? Is this the new meaning of the word CANCEL?". I hyperventilated and this time wrote the choicest words on their wall, in the e-mail and also picked up the phone. I can be fierce at most times.

Finally Flipkart said they are holding the book(whatever that means) until any further notice from me. Sounded like a court injunction. Two days later my order status showed cancel. Three days later I again shipped the book and this time I made D double check and clicked on the Credit/Debit payment options.

What Miri had to suffer on her end for this trauma I do not know. She might have laughed at my "dumbness" with her spouse over a cup of chai. She never told me. All she said is she enjoyed the book, once she got it that is.

Oh, and the other winner Usha probably got a wind of the scam because she didn't want a "gift" she said. Instead she asked the gift money to be donated which was a lovely gesture on her part. Thanks you girls.

And I actually like FlipKart, even now.


This Vegetable Biryani is from Miri's blog.Everything is almost same as hers including the Parampara masala except that I did it in the microwave. I did not cook the rice before hand as is customary. I made the masala, vegetables, etc. and then I fried the rice for couple of minutes. In a big microwaveable bowl, put everything together, added water to rice in 2:1 ratio and zip,zap zoomed it.

It was delicious, the best I have ever made at home. It would have been dazzling with the fried onions she has but ahem..., umm.., I actually ran out of ummm.. onions. There I said it.


Vegetable Biryani in Microwave

Original Recipe -- Check this for measures etc.

Heat about 2 tbsp ghee or oil in a heavy bottomed pan.Add 1 onion thinly sliced , saute till nice and brown. Reserve half of the onions for garnish.
Since I ran out of onions, I had to do without it.

In the same pan, add
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp garlic paste
2-3 green chilli made into paste
lightly fry for 2-3 minutes.

Add 1 medium tomato chopped or pureed and fry for about 5 minutes till tomato is mushed and there is no raw smell

Add 1/4 tsp red chilli powder and 2 tbsp Parampara biryani masala. With a sprinkle of water fry for 2 minutes.
The Parampara definitely brings out the real taste.

1 tbsp chopped mint leaves and
3 tbsp coriander leaves

and mix
I added dried mint

Add the chopped vegetables( cauliflower, carrots, peas, beans, potatoes) and saute for couple of minutes. I added about 1&1/2 cup of frozen mixed vegetables.


Lower the heat and add 1/2 of yoghurt and salt and mix well. Cover & Cook for 5-7 minutes till veggies are just tender. Remove the masala and put in a deep microwave bowl.


Meanwhile wash 2 cups of rice and soak for about 15-20 minutes

In the same pan heat 1 more tbsp oil/ghee. temper oil with
2 Bay Leaf 4 cardamom
4 Clove
2" stick of cinnamom.

Add the rice which has been washed and drained
Saute the rice for about 3 mins at medium heat.



Put the rice over the masala, and mix gently. Add 1 tbsp of melted ghee. Add water, double the amount of rice. Add salt & sugar to taste.Heat few strands of saffron in 2 tbsp of milk and add that.

Now put in the microwave and select the option your MW has for rice. Mine has a button called "Rice" and that is it, your model might be different. Cook the way you would cook rice in your microwave. Also add water as you usually do for rice.

When done, fluff rice with a fork, garnish with the fried onions and serve immediately.