Sunday, April 02, 2006

Bharelu Shaak: Gujarati Style Stuffed Vegetables

Gujarati food is another unique cooking style in India. Majority of Gujaratis are vegetarians and their cuisine comprises of the simplest of ingredients, which combine to deliver a signature taste and texture. Gujaratis love their food. Maybe thats an understatement :) If you have ever visited a Gujarati family or a Gujju restaurant, you know. They are absolutely passionate about food! There is seldom a Gujju restaurant without a huge Thali spread, commonly unlimited. From their simplest kadhis (curd based dish, served with rice), to the multi flavored oondiyu (signature dish, mixed vegetables slow cooked with special spices), each dish can offer something new to the taste buds! Some of their preparations can come across a bit sweet (small amount of sugar added to enhance other flavors), if you are new to the cuisine. This is essentially true of the Kathiawadi (a region in Gujarat) style preparation. On the other hand, the Surati (another region) preparation is predominantly savory. While on the topic of Surati food, Surati Farsans (snacks... fried snacks) immediately come to mind! Jalebi (Indian Funnel cake) with Fafda (chick pea flour fritters) is a nostalgic brunch combination. Dhokla, Khandvi, Handvo, Patra ... all snack items!

Also, another interesting point to note is that Gujaratis are the #1 consumers of cooking oil in India! Thats what makes their food so irresistable I guess :) One of my favorite Gujju dishes is a stuffed vegetable preparation, which very suprisingly is NOT deep fried! More surprisingly, inspite of being non-deep fried, it is one of Hubbie's favorites too. Just bring up this recipe, and you will undoubtedly hear him rave about how well his grandmother makes this and sigh in foodie nostalgia! I suspect it is one of his favorite childhood memories.

Indian food bloggers have blogged about varieties of stuffed eggplant... Andhra, Maharashtrian and modern-deconstructed version. Here is another variety - stuffed Eggplant, Baby Potatoes and Onion. Kanda-Batata-Ringana Nu Bhareli Shaak (Onion-Potato-Brinjal stuffed Curry)

The trick here is in choosing the vegetable and stuffing it. Choose small baby purple brinjals, baby potatoes and small red onions. Usually you would make a plus shaped cut to stuff the vegetables. But stuffing them can be a gentle art, especially frustrating for stuffing onion. Here is are some stuffing tips directly from Hubbie's favorite chef (his grandmother)
Onion - Trim the tips, peel and wash
Potato - Peel and Wash
Brinjal - Wash and trim the stalks.

Hold each vegetable vertically and make a diagonal slit, 3/4 into the vegetable. Then turn it upside down and make a similar slit on the opposite diagonal. Instead of the cross cut of the same side, you have the two slits on the opposite ends. This enables easier and more abundant stuffing. Now here the the details of the recipe

Clockwise from left Potato, brinjal and Onion

Stuffed Onion Potato and Brinjal Serves 2
2 small red onions
4 small brinjals
4 small potatoes
Peel/wash and make slits on the vegetables as described above
1.5 tbsp chickpea flour
2 tbsp coriander powder
1 tbsp cumin powder
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp garam masala
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
juice of one lemon
2 tbsp minced coriander leaves
2 tbsp oil
Mix all these ingredients until they form a coarse lumpy texture. Stuff generously on both slits of the vegetables. Place the vegetables in a steamer basket and steam for about 20-30 mins or until a knife goes through gently into the potatoes.
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
Heat oil in a large (wide) non stick pan, add the seeds and allow to sputter. carefully drop the steamed vegetables. Toss them around in the oil being careful. Avoid using a ladle and just shake the pan gently to move the vegetables around for 2-3 minutes.

This preparation goes best with juwar rotli. An excellent guide to the delectable rotlis can be found at the Cook's Cottage. Here is what my attempt at the rotlis looked like.
Wam, fluffy rotis also make a great accompaniment to the stuffed veggies.


sailu said...

I enjoy Gujarati cuisine a I like my curries to have some sweet flavor to it and as far as I know Gujju cuisine calls for liberal use of sweet flavor to their sabjis.
This is an interesting stuffed veggie recipe using 3 or 4 vegetables,GM.

SusanV said...

This looks so good. I am really learning a lot from your blog!

Garam Masala said...

Sailu - Yes, Gujarati food does feel sweet to the taste. Maybe I am now getting used to it or that the restaurants in the US are adapting to customer tastes... but I like a small amount of sweetness now too!
I especially like this recipe because it includes all flavors... salt, sweet, sour and heat something for each taste bud.

SusanV: Thanks for stopping by! I am glad you like this recipe. Judging by the varied flavor explorations on your blog, I think you will like this.

Kitchenmate said...

I agree with you on Gujarati's food, yummiest. We have a friend nearby, we always enjoy their preparation.
This looks so cool and easy to prepare, goes to my long "must-do's".. Thanks for sharing this one GM:)

Garam Masala said...

You're welcome, Karthi. Let me know how it turns out!

Vineela said...

Hi GM,
I like the gujarathi food. Theplas r my favourite.I never tried potato with brinjal let me give a try.
Thank u.

Saffron said...

yummy! I love the idea of steaming the veggies first and then pan frying them. Sounds like a very healthy way to cook them and to avoid the burnt crust on the bottom.


Sumi said...

I have tagged you in my blog.

BDSN said...

Wow!!what an amazing masala stuffing..Too good to resist..will try definitely..

BDSN said...

And one more thing...the steaming idea is cool...just love it..

Garam Masala said...

Thanks Vineela, Saffron and BDSN!

Janani said...

Hi Garam Masala: Thanks for your kind words for my post on Mahanandi. This recipe looks very tempting indeed!

Tina Jennifer D'Silva said...

Hi GM... I tried this out & it was awesome.. My family enjoyed the meal yesterday... thanx so much for sharing... This recipe goes in my best recipes file..

Anonymous said...

Dear Garam Masala

I have just tried your recipe with a few changes. The final result was a very tasty dish. So many thanks. I plan to post the changes and hopefully a photo on my blog. Which bring me to another point? My blog is called Garam Masala, same as your title, seems we share the same passion in masala terms.

Please pass by the blog when you can.

Thanks again

Dilip UK

Mansi Desai said...

Hi there!

gujju food rocks!!! no doubt about it:) and yes, we use oil and sugar, that's what makes us and our food "sweet and tasty"...hahahaa...

pls visit my blog for some other gujarati and other recipes!

this bharela baingan was awesome!!


Divya said...

I was looking for stuffed vengan recipe the way my mum makes, and this looks very close :)
thank you for sharing.

Shashai said...

Oh wow. I love stuffed bengan with potato and onion. Thanks for wonderful recipe. Will definately try. Also can u also post recipe for Stuffed green pepper gujarati style.

viagra online said...

I love the kitchen Gujarati .. I like my curry .. I love that you give us this kind of options for our kitchen ... thanks!