(Lima) Beans and Delhi Cha(a)t

Friday, May 26, 2006

Book Cover and Smoked Eggplant

Hi everyone!

It's good to be back again. Was I really gone? Um, not really; I just served an ultimatum to Cesar that I would be on a posting hiatus until he posted something here. It worked, eh? Just joking Cesar; don't glare at me. :P

To tell you the truth; this self-imposed staying-away wasn't easy. Fellow food bloggers, I have missed you all and your soul-tempting recipes. Now that I am back, be sure to find me find my trail in your blogs.

Yes, I did get a recipe for you all, but first something non-foodie. Please take a look at the cover for my debut book, Making Out in America, slated for release later this year.

My brother did the cover art for the book, so if you have any appreciation or criticism, do let me know. I will pass it on to him.

And now for the foodie stuff. Eggplant/brinjal lovers, get your pen and notepad ready. Here's an interesting version of Baingan Bharta or smoked and mashed eggplant. There is a Bengali touch in this version, and that comes by the way of poppy seed or posto paste. The end result is very similar to the usual bharta, yet, I found this simpler to cook. Let's get cooking then, shall we?

Begun Posto (Smoked Eggplant in Poppy Seeds Paste)

Eggplant: 1 (round)
Dry red chilies: 2
Poppy seeds (ground into a paste): 2 tablespoons
Fenugreek seeds: 1/4 teaspoon
Garlic (minced): 1 tablespoon
Green chilie (slit lengthwise): 1
Turmeric: A pinch
Water: 1/4 cup
Salt to taste
Oil for cooking


1. Wash the eggplant. Smoke and roast it.
2. Remove eggplant from fire. Cool, mash and set aside.
3. Heat oil in a wok. Add the red chilies and fry for a minute or so.
4. Add the fenugreek seeds, garlic, and green chilie and stir until the garlic turns brown. Take care not to burn the garlic.
5. Add turmeric and water. Bring to a boil.
6. Lower the heat and add the mashed eggplant.
7. Add the poppy seeds paste and salt. Mix well and stir.
8. Cover and cook eggplant for about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent eggplant from sticking.
9. Remove from heat.
10. Serve hot.

Like the conventional bharta, this variation is best accompanied by hot paranthas or chapatis. And it's a recipe not likely to leave anyone disappointed. So do try it, and let me know how you liked it!


Sunday, May 21, 2006

A Taste for Lemon

Howdy fellow bloggers!

It's nice to be around here again. A series of reasons have kept me away from our blog but I'm always keeping ideas in my head waiting to find a few minutes to cme by and share them with you. There is so much to share on Peruvian Food and I'm not doing it justice. Shame on me.

So this time I thought about talking a little about another key ingredient in Peruvian food. I already talked about our aji­, and now its time for our very unique lemon. Yup, the noble lemon. You must be thinking, what's so special about lemons? Well, as you may know fruits and vegetables come in all kinds of breeds and families. Most of you might be familiar with the American lemon. You know the type. They are yellow and big (around the size of a tennis ball) and have a sweet-sour flavor.

Peruvian lemon is a bit different. For starters its appearance. Our lemons are deep green and about the size of a golf ball. These lemons are extremely sour and they are the key element in national dishes such as the world famous ceviche (a post on ceviche is coming soon).Sufficee to say, you would never be able to make ceviche with American lemons, you'd just bemissingg out on the whole thing. This is the reason why every tourist who comes hear ismarveledd by this dish. You won't find it anywhere else in the world. Not ours. And the reason is very simple: only Peruvian lemon is strong enough to cook the raw fish ceviche is made with.

International chef Alfonso Pretell, who own one of the greatest fish restaurants in Peru called "Punta Sal" had this to say:

"Our lemon arrived with the (Spanish) conquest, but when it was sowed in our soil it acquired properties which can't be found anywhere else in the world: its flavor, its sourness, the amount of juice, the fine skin, the beautiful color, scent and size."

A bit of trivia: the biggest producer of Peruvian lemon is Tambogrande in Piura (north of Peru) which is responsible for 80% of the lemon consumed nationally.

So now that you know a bit more about this fruit, I can maybe interest you in a delicious dessert.Veryy simple to prepare it makes the most out of our sour friend. So without further delay, here is a littlerecipee for a great pie.

Lemon Pie


- 2 cups crushed vanilla crackers
- 1/2 cup melted butter

- 1 can condensed milk
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (our lemon ;) )
- 4 egg yolks

- 4 egg whites
- 1/2 cup sugar


Mix crushed crackers and butter in a circular pyrex (heat resistant) mold and shape with the aid of the back of a spoon so as too make a "bed". This will be the base of your pie.

Mix all the filling ingredients and pour on top of the bed you just made.

Take this to the oven (350º F) for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool down completely (you should be able to hold the pyrex with your bare hands after it cools down).

Beat the egg whites with the sugar till they reach the "snow point". That is till they become a sort of foam (the volume will easily triple). This is what we call "merengue". Finally spread this "merengue" over the pie and simmer in the oven until the merengue takes a golden hue.

Enjoy and whenever u get to spot Peruvian lemons, grab a bunch!


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Jihva for Ingredients: Green Mango Chutney

I admit I have been a late comer to this event. However, I am not squarely to blame for that. Between computer woes, my other blog, and a long power cut (yes, summer has arrived in India), I barely found time for helping Mother prepare my entry and take the pictures. But I am here now, and I promise not to keep you waiting on this one.

As I hopped my way around the blogs that entered the Jihva for Ingredients (JFI) event, hosted by the wonderful Indira of Mahanandi, I found a particular phrase echoing through most of them. It went thus: "When I first heard of JFI..." And so, to carry on with that refrain I have to say when I first heard of this very delicious new food blog event, I immediately thought of the green mango chutney that is a star attraction of any Bengali platter. Tempered with the typical Bengali spice-mix called panch phoron, this is a chutney that is usually served at the end of a meal and one that promises to keep you licking your fingers happily ever after.

Aamer Chatni (Green Mango Chutney)


Green mangoes: Two, peeled and diced
Sugar: 300 grams
Salt: 3/4 teaspoon

For tempering:
Ginger: 1 teaspoon, finlely julienned
Panch phoron (mix seeds of fenugreek, nigella, mustard, fennel, and cumin in equal measure): 1/2 teaspoon
Dry red chili: 1


1. Put the diced mango, sugar, raisins, and salt in a pressure cooker and cook until 3 whistles.
2. Take the cooker off the heat and let the pressure get released.
3. Heat oil in a wok and add the ingredients for tempering. Fry for a minute or two and immediately mix it with the boiled magoes.
4. Pressure cook again for one more whistle.
5. When the pressure is released, transfer into a container. Let it cool
6. Relish!

The tart taste of mangoes, along with its refreshing scent, when mixed with sugar and spiced with panch phoron, deliver a jelly-like chutney to remember.

Dip your finger ;)


A special note of thanks:
To Anthony for providing the Menu category (see new sidebar feature) code, and to Cesar for painstakingly setting it up on the blog.