Baingan Aur Pyaz Raita (Seasoned Yoghurt With Eggplant And Onion)

Todays recipe for Raita is inspired by my sister Annu’s version of Eggplant Raita. I’m not sure if my version exists out there but I like to think it doesn’t and that I created it. I love onions cooked and raw or in any which way so I decided to give it my twist and add that into my Raita. I absolutely loved it!!! Do give it a try and see if you like it too. It’s simple, it’s easy and a unique take on your usual Raitas.

Well as you all know by now my post won’t be complete without my totally unrelated to food prattling. Let me tell you a bit about my adventure in my favourite travel destination Thailand. You see I was always apprehensive about travelling to Thailand only because I had so eagerly watched a movie called “Shocking Asia” many years ago. It left a jaw dropping, eye popping, thought provoking effect on me. Well in fact I was amusingly traumatised. So here’s a little snippet of my very first trip there. Mind you my trip there wasn’t an option it just so happened that the cheapest route to India was via Thailand so off we went.

When I first landed in Bangkok my first impression was wow! I’m in a clean version of India..oh wait or is it Middle East? Umm why do I feel like I’m still in Australia. Yep! that was my reaction. I somehow felt I hadn’t left Sydney at all..Liverpool to be precise. Now if you’re a fellow Aussie and been to the wonderful western suburbs of Liverpool you will know exactly what I’m talking about.

I just love the country for the warmth of the Thai people and the multiculturalism however I was still a bit wary. I had read and been warned so much about the things of the weird kind happening there that I jumped everytime someone said “Sawadee Kha” (hello) feeling they all had an ulterior motive. Although in Hindi Swad similar sounding to sawadee is tasty and Kha means eat…hmmm what shall we make of this then? I leave it to your imaginative minds.😉

You know when tourists visit Australia for the first time they are almost always on a lookout for Kangaroos and Koalas in our cities, airports, parks but mainly at the beach hoping to see them in their speedos, wearing an Akubra hat, enjoying a BBQ and skulling some schooners (just kidding!). Well what do you know..when sightseeing in Bangkok I was on a lookout too. I had my eyes on full sos scanning alert for “ladyboys”. They are so called gorgeous males adorned as divas and pretty much well tucked “down under”. I remember getting Thai massage services in my hotel room (such luxury) and being super paranoid that my masseuse was a ladyboy. Now it’s not that I had a problem with it..I just didnt want “her” to envy my jalti jawani (burning) beauty that’s all.

I looked at everyone in a suspicious manner so much so that I feared my DH will be lured by gorgeous Thai women to the region of “Thai-Sutra”. They would entice him by saying “sawadee krab (you might just end up catching it if you ain’t playing safe) come she teacha you ping pong..she maker you happy“. But in reality what I found was that almost everyone (except the dodgy few) were pretty cool there and having a ball and letting their hairs and what not down. We also bumped into a few fellas from back home who had several Thai beauties hanging off their arms..”lucky buggers!!”(DH’s words not mine). What does this say about our men? Well drink yer beers, enjoy yer barbie..just make sure you can spot the difference mate! Can’t wait for my next trip!

Ingredients
1 Medium Sizes Eggplant (I used the thicker dark purple variety)
1 Large Onion
1 Clove Garlic
1&1/2 Cup Yoghurt
Oil for Shallow Frying
Salt To Taste

Method
• Wash,dry and slice eggplant into medium to thin half moon shapes.
• Slice onion into ring shapes.
• Crush the garlic and add into the bowl of whisked yoghurt with salt.
• Now heat some oil into a non-stick frypan and shallow fry the eggplant pieces until lightly browned and drain into absorbent paper.
• Repeat the same with the onion rings.
• Add the onion rings and fried eggplant pieces into the yoghurt and stir. Serve with Roti or Chawal.

This dish is best served with Biryani and Pulao or anything else you fancy.

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Nariyal Chutney (Coconut Chutney)

I had tried on many occassions to perfect my coconut chutney but was never satisfied with the result. It really wasn’t that bad or unedible but just not as delicious as I had hoped. Then a few years back I inherited a recipe from my friend Sammi’s late grandmother Yenktamma Naidu. Everyone fondly knew her as Awa. Coming from a South Indian I felt like I had been handed a family heirloom and felt mighty proud.😊Since then I have been making my coconut chutney Awa’s way. I will forever be indebted to her for passing her recipe to me. God bless her soul.

Recently I was reminiscing and went straight back into my Fiji flashback.💭It was the weekend, Saturday to be precise, a day I knew I will be allowed to catch up with my school mates and go and show off my “mufti day” clothes. I loved not having to wear my school uniform and letting my hair out which was a change from having to coconut oil it to plait it with ribbons. I wore my best outfit and waited for my friends to turn up so we could just hang out and do a full round walk of our small city. We made sure we walked slowly (not much choice in the heat) so it would take the max time to cover from one end to the other. Yes, that was our Lautoka city small and cute. Then after lunch we would stroll to Marine Drive harbour and sit and watch the ships sail by and throw rocks into the sea.

Most of our weekends were spent watching any and every Bollywood movies at the cinemas. Even better when your parents owned one. It was free VIP entries for us. My parents always knew where to find my missing siblings and I….hiding in the cinema which was our second home. We would snack on fried peas, bhuja mixes and sip soft drink. Soft drinks were luxury items to have those days so you can imagine how much I looked forward to enjoying each sip followed by a burp or two. The downside was watching the actors feeding themselves on screen which made us all more hungry. As soon as it was intermission men darted towards the loo or outside to kill their lungs. Women and children made a quick dash to the takeaway shop to buy hot mutton pies and fish and chips. I would love to hear everyone sigh whenever there was a climax scene and say “saaa” (for ahhh or ohhh) or in sad scenes everyone of them in unison will begin to “tch! tch! tch!” (for awww nooo you poor thing) or in fight sequence there will be a very loud Oilei!! (for what I belive is maybe OMG!). And if the movie stopped or the reel finished in the middle of the most exciting scene of a son reuniting with his mum then itll be a mild hurl of abuses like “oyye operator kani kani” (basically meant operator wake up from your Kava induced sleep). Oh! how I miss all that.

As much as I loved watching movies I absolutely hated the cinema halls. I could never relax once the lights turned off. No, not out of fear from being kicked by smelly tinea ridden feet from behind but from far more dangerous things. The “thing”…the thing that petrified me..the thing that could make your skin crawl…the thing that was brown and had antennaes….yucky and gross cockroaches!!!! And those “malteser suckers” could fly I tell ya! Yikesss I could just die.😱I as an adolescent was traumatised by those evil pests. Anyways I managed to survive to see many more movies and finally when I discovered the cinemas in Australia I was cured…aaaah!

Getting to the point…so as soon as it was Saturday I knew mum will be going to the markets to buy some vegies and freshly cooked Idlis and coconut chutney. I always looked forward to that and it wasn’t often the vendors at the markets sold it. I will never forget how delicious the chutney was. I was recently craving it badly so I decided to make a few in experimental batches and see if I could replicate the taste. Finally I think I did it!! I believe I was very close to it. This chutney is my experimental version inspired by Late Awa’s original recipe with a slight twist.

As you all know I cook the lazy way so I’ve used frozen shredded coconut. I have tried many frozen brands but Vadilal’s is by far the best. Obviously you can’t compromise on the fresh taste of grated coconut but this brand comes quite close to it. It’s moist and fluffy in texture and smells heavenly. Hailing from the tropics I happen to know my coconuts (no pun intended😁). A few years back I did it the old fashioned way by placing the coconut grater (shaped somewhat like a cricket bat with prongs attached to it) on a chair with my butt firmly on it and grate away. This chutney is for those lazy cooks who wants something quick because they’de rather be spending time with their family or enjoying “tutti frutti”.😉

This recipe is a special request by a reader and a friend. Roberta Movick this ones for you.

Ingredients
2 Cups Frozen Shredded Coconut (I have used Vadilal Brand)
1 Tablespoon Tamarind Pulp
1 Small Garlic Clove
1/2 Medium Sized Onion
5-6 Small Red Chillies (adjust to suit level of hotness)
5-6 Curry Leaves
Salt To Taste
Oil For Tempering

Method
• In a bowl of hot water (about a 1/4 cup) soak tamarind pulp. Set aside for water to cool down.
• Once cooled squeeze the pulp with fingers to release flavour into the infused water? Discard squeezed pulp. Set the paste aside.
• Chop onions, garlic and chillies finely.
• Heat oil in a non-stick frypan.
• Throw in the garlic, chillies, onions and saute till translucent.
• Now add curry leaves, shredded defrosted/thawed coconut and salt and cook till lightly browned.
• Set aside to cool and throw it all into the food processor with the tamarind liquid paste.
• If chutney is too dry to grind add a little bit more water to ensure it turns out moist and fine.

This dish is best served as sides with Idlis and Dosas.

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Khaidu (Seasoned Yoghurt)

As promised here’s my mother-in-law Satish’s recipe for Khaidu/seasoned yoghurt which goes well as an accompaniment for pulaos and biryanis.

I am having a serene moment today but let me warn you there’s no major babbling bass just some minor bakwaas.😌I am sitting here gazing into my crystal ball🔮trying to tap into my 7 crucial Chakras. I seek inner peace by exploring deep soul diving so close your eyes, focus on the tube light, breathe and repeat after me..wax on! wax off! wax on! wax off! Come be enlightened! I promise not to remove evil eyes, or give you spells and concoctions for being bitten by a mad dog, find you your true love and wealth nor save your marriage. I’m here to tickle your tastebuds. I’ll teach you how not to remove your eyes off of the stove, give you sauces and condiments for being bitten by the mad foodie bug, find you your true spices and health and save your meal from burning. I, the food Love Guru!😇Come let’s eat!!

Ingredients
2 Cups Yoghurt
1-2 Tbspn Milk
Half Onion Sliced Finely
1/2 Tspn Jeera/Cumin Seeds
1/2 Tspn Sarso/Mustard Seeds
3-4 Curry Leaves
2 Chillies Sliced Finely
1/4 Tspn Haldi/Turmeric
1 Tbspn Oil
Salt To Taste

Method
• Whisk yoghurt and milk and set aside
• Heat oil in a pan add sarso and jeera.
• Once the sarso starts to splutter throw in the onions and chillies.
• When the onions are lightly browned add haldi and curry leaves and stir for a second or two.
• Remove pan from heat, let it cool then pour tadka/tempering over the yoghurt and mix well.

This side dish is best served with pulaos.

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