Baigan Bharta

A smoked eggplant is mashed and sauteed with mustard seeds, onion, tomatoes, various spices and oil and garnished with fresh coriander leaves. Fire roasting the vegetable yields a rich, smoky flavor.
3 firm medium Italian Eggplants or large Eggplants
3 large Onions
2 Green Peppers
2 cups Cherry Tomatoes
1 small can Tomato sauce
2 Jalapenos
2 tsp Ginger-garlic paste
1 tsp Garam masala
1/2 tsp Cumin-coriander powder
1 tsp Amchur

Smear oil or spray PAM on the eggplant, spread an aluminium foil on a baking tray and BROIL in the oven at 350 degrees on HIGH for 45 minutes. Don't forget to make incisions on the eggplant with knife on all side to prevent the vegetable from exploding on high heat. This is easier when working on more than one eggplant.

Or roast the eggplants over a flame, a gas burner or directly on an electric element, turning frequently, until they are thoroughly charred and soft throughout. You will get that smoky undertone you can't get from baking the eggplants. Immerse in cold water for a few minutes, remove and discard the skin and mash the soft flesh to a smooth paste.

Take 4 tsp of oil in a large non stick vessel. Add mustard seeds and jeera then add chopped onions, ginger garlic paste, chopped jalapenos. Cook till the onions are translucent and then add cut peppers (green peas can also be added) continue cooking, stirring frequently, add turmeric, garam masala, cumin-coriander powder, amchur, salt, tomato sauce and cook for a few minutes. Now add the smoked egg plant and mix well, slit tomatoes or cut in half and add to the gravy. Gently mix, the heat in the pot will cook the tomatoes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add butter or oil according to taste.

Turn the flame to medium/low and cook till the oil separates and meld its flavors.

Garnish with coriander and serve with rice or roti or as a spread on bread.

Bellam Avakaye

A special pickle very personal to coastal Andhra. It is called bellam avakaye due to the presence of bellam(jaggery) in it, don't brush it off yet, the way it is prepared and amount of spices in it makes it a longing, mouth watering pickle. Kids love this as it is not too hot/karam and it has an addicting taste to it. A little lengthy process than our regular avakaye, but it has an excellent taste of it own! I promise you, you will not be able to buy it in any store. So, get started....
3 raw Mango – Hard and very sour
2 cups Mustard powder – ava pindi
1 cup Red Chili Powder
¾ cup Salt
1½ cup Oil - preferably Sesame\Till oil
2 tsp Fenugreek seeds
3 - 4 cups Jaggery

Traditionally "Collector kaye/mangoes" are used for this pickle, but since we can hardly find any variety, I personally did it with the regular mangoes that are really raw and green.

In a skillet fry the fenugreek seeds on low flame till they are nicely roasted. Keep aside.

Mustard powder can be made by dry grinding raw mustard seeds in a mill or a blender to a soft powder. 1 cup of mustard make more than a cup of mustard powder so, measure the powder before using.

Wash and dry mango. Cut mango length wise (making 4 halves) leaving the hard seed shell intact, remove the soft seed. Remove the fine film in the lining of the shell of the mango by scrapping with a knife and clean with a dry paper towel.

In a glass jar (do not use plastic with pickles) add mustard powder, chili powder, turmeric, salt and fenugreek seeds. Mix all the ingredients together. Then add oil and mix well. Now add the mango pieces and mix thoroughly. Set aside for 4 - 5 days mixing once a day. Use dry ladle to mix.

On the 4 th or 5th day remove the mango slices from the avakaye base and sun dry them separately. Mango slices on a cover and the avakaye base in the container for 4 - 5 days till the mango pieces completely dry. Cut the mango slices into smaller pieces and keep aside.

Depending upon the personal choice of sweetness, roughly about the amount of avakaye base , chop jaggery into small pieces. Transfer into a kadai and add 1/4 cup of water and bring to boil on medium heat stirring continuously. When it starts to boil and cook, test it to confirm if it has reached the correct consistency. Place a drop of the boiling liquid in a bowl of cold water, if you are able to bring it together like a ball, it has reached the stage. Remove and let the fumes settle down. Let it not cool too much, when it is still warm and in semi solid form transfer into the avakaye base and mix well. Add the cut mango pieces and mix well. Let it come to room temperature and transfer into an air tight container.

Bellam avakaye has a good shelf life. Keep away from moisture for long lasting pickle. This is a good side dish with white rice or curd rice.

Bellam Avakaye - Photo Tutorial

Mix avva (mustard powder),red chili powder, salt, fenugreek seeds and oil with mango pieces and keep aside for 4 - 5 days.Separate the mango pieces from the mixture and sun dry them separately till the mango pieces dry well.
Make jaggery syrup and bring to room temperature.
Mix the syrup with mixture.
Cut the mango pieces into small pieces.
Add the mango pieces with the base and mix well.
Mix thoroughly and let cool. Save in an air tight container.

Corn masala

4 Ears of Corn
2 cups Corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
4 Onions
2 Potatoes
4 – 5 Tomatoes
4 Green chilies
2 tsp Ginger-garlic paste
2 tsp Garam masala

Cut corn into 3 inches and keep aside. Peel and cut potatoes. Transfer cut potatoes and corn in a vessel and add salt and turmeric. Transfer the cut corn into a vessel and pressure cook them till nicely done. Drain water from both the vessels, mash the potato and corn to a smooth paste and keep aside.

If you do not have frozen corn cut corn kernels from the corn of the cob with a knife placing on an inverted bowl on a cutting board.

Take 4 tsp oil in a skillet and sauté onions. Add ginger-garlic paste and fry for a few minutes. Now add chopped tomatoes, green chilies and fry for a few minutes. Then add some salt and garam masala (I used homemade garam masala, please refer to Garam masala in pickles and powders). Add the mashed potato and corn mixture and mix well. Add more butter or oil for a greasy gravy and cook till the oil separates and then add cut corn.

Sprinkle chopped coriander and mix well. Cook for a few minutes and remove from flame.

This is a good side dish with white rice or rotti, it can also be eaten as is as a snack.


Hello friends and readers,
If you wondered why they were no updates on my blog, I was away on a vacation with my family to the Sunshine State. We went on a road trip all the way from New Jersey. It was a long drive, but was worth it. Roads and free ways of the Carolina's and Georgia were a pleasure to drive on.
It was quite a wonderful trip....

The weather was very co-operating and gave us an opportunity to see a lot of places in Orlando. Beaches, theme parks, race tracks and resorts were filled with people from all over the place. We had consumed "Orange" in some form for every meal of the day it goes without saying how sweet and perfect they were! I vouch for "An Orange State."

I have to mention here that Disney brings out the child in us. It's so magical that it lets us dream beyond our imagination. If you believe hard enough dreams do come true! An opportunity to celebrate childhood with our children and hold on to sweet memories for ever.

I am back to reality now, so, please check for regular updates on the blog! :)