Friday, September 23, 2005

Something's cooking...

I'm a big fan of food. I love everything about food. Reading food blogs, watching programs devoted to food, studying eating habits of people, surfing the internet for recipes,etc. A trip to the local vegetable/fruit vendor is one of my most eagerly awaited activities. Neatly piled bright red tomatoes, brilliant green chili peppers, one or two shy red cabbages lurking behind glowing white cabbages, fresh bunches of spinach, cilantro, fenugreek, and other greens, shiny violet brinjals (eggplant)jostling for space with their greener cousins, and rows and rows of fresh produce are such a feast to the eyes. The rich aromas of onions, garlic appeal to the olfactory nerves. The salivary glands start working overtime at the thought of all the elaborate recipes that could be conjured with all these ingredients.
Unfortunately, my brain thinks too fast for my hands to keep pace with. So even though I know that I'm a good cook my hands need some practice before the world knows this truth.

This brings to me some vivid childhood memories. As long as I remember, at the onset of every summer vacation I would announce to K2 and K3 that I'll make Bharli Bhendi (BB) or Stuffed Okra for them and it sounded really exotic.
It so happened that year after year, vacation after vacation I kept making that announcement which literally became a ritual to start the summer vacation. It's neither that I didn’t want to try cooking this delicacy for my dear sisters nor that bhendis suddenly went out of fashion during summers. It's just that some projects never really reach implementation phase. In my family, thanks to my sisters BB now means any grand/ambitious idea/plan announced (by me) with much fanfare which is sure to fail.

I'm proud to announce to the world that I have been successful to wash off the stigma associated with these gentle bhendis.
I finally cooked some really yummy BB for A which he has qualified was indeed yummy. Now for the benefit of you all who missed out the fun I would write down the recipe. (Thanks to all those wonderful food blogs I've been reading recently I just wanted to write something like this and am kicking myself for not taking a snap of my creation.;-))
But really, it's such a simple thing to make and so great to taste.

We need 1/4 kg of fresh, short and tender bhendis,
3 medium sized onions,
2 large tomatoes,
Half a bunch of cilantro,
1 juicy lemon

For cooking, we can use any vegetable oil
For tempering, take 1 tsp cumin seed, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp turmeric powder
For seasoning, we need red chili powder, garam masala, salt.

First, we'll start with the stuffing part.
In a frying pan, take a tbs of oil. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric powder and heat it. Once you hear the mustard seeds crackle add very finely chopped onions. After the onions turn golden (they smell heavenly!)add tomatoes.
Stir 2 to 3 times so that the onions are not caramelized. Turn off the flame, season with chili powder, salt and garam masala Squeeze a lemon and add the lemon juice generously to the pan, mix it well. Taste it, hmm....delicious! Our Masala is ready.

Turn to bhendis.
Wash the bhendis and wipe them dry. Chop off a little bit from both the ends. Make a lengthwise slit in these bhendis and stuff each of them with the stuffing we have made.

Gently arrange these stuffed bhendis in the pan (same pan in which we cooked the stuffing) in a layer so that the stuffing is not disturbed. Sprinkle a tbs of oil and the remaining stuffing masala on the bhendis and stir fry the bhendis for sometime till they are fully cooked. Decorate with chopped cilantro.

Serve piping hot with a dash of lemon. It goes very well with plain rotis or steamed white rice.

Phew! I almost feel like Tarla Dalal! I can see K2 and K3 rolling their eyes!

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