Category Archives: Food

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.

Sunday Breakfast

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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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Shepherd’s Pie

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Every year for Thanksgiving, my family and I always go to Mama’s house for dinner (maternal uncle). Although Thanksgiving is an American holiday and obviously isn’t recognized in Bengali customs, being able to have a family get-together and having turkey during this time of the year is always fun! It has become more so of a family event that I always look forward to every year…because of the turkey of course! I had been thinking about what to cook and didn’t want to bring in any sweet dishes as I had already baked white chocolate brownies for last year’s dinner. Earlier this summer when I was in England, I watched my sister-in-law bake a chicken-mushroom pie and she told me that she sometimes bakes shepherd’s pie for the family as well and how everyone loves it. So I thought, hmm, it has meat, vegetables, and mashed potatoes. Why not, eh?! Eat it with some gravy and it’ll be a great side dish to accompany the turkey. Also, in England, lamb is more preferable to beef. I did not want to spend too much time worrying about getting rid of the “meaty” smell off the ground lamb so I thought I’d just opt for our good ‘ol American choice of beef and try ground lamb some other day.

Ingredients:

For the Meat:

  • 2lbs of ground beef
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1 tspn ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tspn cayenne pepper flakes
  • 1 tspn salt
  • 1.5 tbsp butter
  • 4 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 2 tbsp of tomato paste
  1. In a pan, add the butter and chicken bouillon cubes until melted. Then add the meat, salt, pepper, cayenne flakes, tomato paste, ginger paste and garlic paste. Constantly stir to separate the ground meat. Cook until brown. About 15-minutes.
  2. Using a straining spoon, remove the meat to a separate dish for later.

For the Vegetables:

  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tspn of salt
  • 1 tspn of black pepper
  • 1 cup of thawed corn kernels
  • 1 cup of thawed green peas
  • 1.5 cup diced oniones
  • 1 cup diced mushrooms
  • 1 cup diced carrots

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  1. In the same pot, remove if there is excess water from the meat. But ensure to keep enough to cook the vegetables in the meat juice. Add all the ingredients and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Cook until carrots are tender on medium heat.
  2. Add the meat and cook together. (If any additional salt is needed then you may add it; however, I did not add any extra salt because of the salt from the chicken bouillon cubes.)
  3. Cook mixture for 10-minutes. Brush 1 tbsp of olive oil onto a baking dish (big enough to feed 15+ people!). Separate mixture into the dish.

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For the Mashed Potatoes:

  • 5 cups of water
  • 10 russet potatoes
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1.5 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tspn black pepper
  • 1/2 tspn oregano
  • 1/2 tspn garlic powder
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Add 5 cups of water to a pot, add 1 tbsp salt and bring the water to boil before adding potatoes.
  3. Once potatoes are boiled and peeled, set aside in blender.
  4. In a sauce pan, add the heavy cream, salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic powder. Cook in low heat and stir. Cook for 5-minutes.
  5. Start mashing the potatoes in the blender and add the heavy cream mixture gradually. Blender until your preferred texture.
  6. Spread the mashed potatoes onto baking dish with cooked meat and vegetables. Use a fork to make crossed lines.
  7. Bake for 25-minutes. Broil for the last 5-minutes for a dark golden brownish color.

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