Author Archives: Urban Begum

Stuffed Eggplants with Ground Lamb

dsc_0731I was looking through Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s elegant and stylistic cookbook, Jerusalem when I found this particular lamb dish that I knew that I had to try. Soon after, I hosted a Middle Eastern themed dinner with some of my friends at my house and decided to cook this dish with a bit of a Bengali twist! I had to improvise a bit because I did not have some of the ingredients at stock and with the Bengali twist, I had to spice the meat up! But the dish itself was a hit! A big thanks to my lovely girls for making the time and saving their appetite!

Ingredients: 

  • 3 medium eggplants cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 lb ground lamb
  • 1 medium capsicum diced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1.5 tspn ground cumin
  • 1.5 tspn ground coriander
  • 1 tspn garam masala
  • 1/4 tspn ground red chili powder
  • 1/4 tspn paprika
  • 1 tspn black pepper
  • 1 tspn sumac
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp salt (add additional if needed)
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup of freshly chopped mint leaves (to garnish)
  • 3/4 cup of olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Wash the outside of the eggplants. Slice them lengthwise in half. Take 3 tbsp of the olive oil, mix with a pinch of salt and black pepper, and coat the eggplants and the outer skin with this mixture.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the ground lamb, add the pastes, the spices, the lemon juice, and leave it for about 30-minutes.
  4. Place the eggplants, skin down on a baking tray and place in the oven to roast for about 30-45 minutes. The texture must be brown and the eggplant must be soft enough but a bit firm enough to retain its shape.
  5. In the meantime, dice one medium onion and capsicum to mix with the ground lamb.
  6. Heat a medium frypan with 4 tbsp of olive oil and cook the ground lamb for at least 15-minutes or until cooked. I like to remove the lamb precisely in 15-minutes to keep the meat juice as it will cook further in the oven anyway. Stir the meat occasionally.
  7. Remove the eggplants from the oven and allow it to cool down. They are very hot to work with at this point!
  8. When cooled, take a large spoon and make an incision in the center of the eggplant as it will be easier to push down or rather make room for the ground lamb stuffing.
  9. After the meat has cooked, take a generous amount of the lamb and stuff the eggplants equally and place it back in the oven for the next 10-15 minutes to cook.
  10. As the stuffed eggplants are in the oven, heat the same pan with the rest of the olive oil.
  11. Take the medium onion and thinly slice them. Coat them with flour and add them to the heated oil. Fry until golden-brown. On a separate plate, place a few layers of bounty for the oil to absorb. Remove the onion onto the plate. Wah-lah! There you have it, crispy fried onions.
  12. Remove the stuffed eggplants from the oven.
  13. Chop the mint leaves.
  14. Garnish the stuffed eggplants with mint and crispy onions. Serve warm with a side of rice and chilled yogurt sauce.

Reflections of My Trip to Bangladesh

Family Home in Kulaura, Sylhet

I paid a visit to Bangladesh some time around February as an opportunity to make amends with the past. Since Dadu, grandmother had passed away, I haven’t felt the desire to go back because things were no longer the same. The nostalgic memories of childhood where my brother and I would be mischievous by playing hide-and-seek in the family home with our cousins, playing cricket and badminton with the maids and neighborhood children, eating numerous bags of Potato Cracker Chips, secretly watching the cooks prepare a delicious full-course menu, watching pithas being made over bonfires, and chasing the farm animals all seemed like a distant memory. What’s interesting is that these bits and pieces of memories are shared by all of my paternal cousins. When visiting Dadu’s home, it felt as if she was watching over me. I missed her so much and Bangladesh never felt like Bangladesh in the robust capital of Dhaka anyway. Once I got to Sylhet and passed through the serene nature: the mountain of tea gardens, the mango trees, jujube trees, and streets filled with fresh pineapple, I knew I was back to a place where I could call home. This was a place where I could re-visit moments of my childhood again as well as make new memories in the new year…

Rickshaw ride to the heart of Amtoil to visit the places where my father grew up.

Rickshaw ride into the heart of Amtoil to visit the places where my father grew up.

Local school children in Amtoil

Local school children in dad’s village in Amtoil

Boro Dada (great-uncle), my Dadu's older brother in Kotomata

Boro Dada (great-uncle), my Dadu’s older brother in Kodomata

Rena, my nanny during my first visit to Bangladesh at the age of 1

Rena, my nanny during my first visit to Bangladesh at the age of 1

Babu Kaka, the night guard after a long day of Saraswati puja festivities

Babu Kaka, the night guard after a long day of Saraswati Puja festivities

Colorful sari and shawl stands in Jaflong, Sylhet

Colorful sari and shawl stands in Jaflong, Sylhet

Stone collectors in Jaflong, Sylhet

Stone collectors in Jaflong, Sylhet

Stone collectors in Jaflong, Sylhet

Stone collectors in Jaflong, Sylhet

The making of dad's museum, the nation's first arts and sports museum

The making of dad’s museum, the nation’s first arts and sports museum

Carpenter making handmade intricate designs for furniture

Carpenter making handmade intricate designs for furniture

After a bath in the pond in Moulvibazar, Sylhet

After a bath in the pond in Moulvibazar, Sylhet

Tea collector in Ghazipur, Sylhet

Tea collector in Ghazipur, Sylhet

Hasina's Ma, Dadu's caretaker

Hasina’s Ma, Dadu’s caretaker


Sunday Breakfast

eggspotatoes

With the new year, I have been trying to make a lot of changes in my diet. From the last two weeks, I have given up on poultry and meat. I have been starting my morning with a pre-breakfast green smoothie at 7am (i.e. kale, spinach, green apples, carrots, and chia seeds), inspiration taken from an ‘ol friend of mine HauteeCouturee. Although it’s an adjustment process and I am basically on detox mode, I am feeling good and hopeful that I can keep up with the changes!

Anyway, today I wanted to give myself a break from the usual bowl of oatmeal and make a healthier version of the breakfast that I would typically enjoy at a diner, eggs and homefries. In general when eating out, we have no control over the amount of oil, sodium-filled sauces, and salt used. However, if we take the initiative to cook our favorite dishes at home, it can help us in making better choices in the kitchen.

I will not stress the sunny side up eggs too much; however, if you would like to know, in a small frypan on med-low heat, I added 1 tspn of coconut oil to cook the egg, added a pinch of black pepper, 1/4 tspn of Flavor God’s Everything Spicy seasoning, and cover the pan to allow the steam to cook the top of the egg.

And for the potatoes, it only took me 15-minutes…

Ingredients:

  • 3 Idaho potatoes diced
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 tbsp of minced fresh garlic
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tspn black pepper
  • 1 tspn Flavor God’s Everything Spicy Seasoning
  • 1 tspn Parsley flakes
  • 1 tbsp Heinz No-Salt Ketchup
  1. Since I was on time-crunch, I cooked the potatoes in the microwave for 3.5 minutes.
  2. In a medium frypan, add 2 tbsp of olive, and caramelize the onions and garlic.
  3. Add the potatoes to the pan.
  4. Add 1 tbsp remaining olive oil, seasonings, and ketchup.
  5. Cover the pan to the allow the flavors to permeate into the potatoes. Occasionally stir to prevent the potatoes from sticking to the pan.

For the Mediterranean salad side dish…

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups of mixed greens
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • 1/4 cup of pitted olives
  • 1 tbsp feta cheese
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1/4 tspn black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp sumac
  1. Mix the items!

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