livin' vegan in sunny atlanta

Tag Archives: baigan bharta

Since the most recent move I’ve completely lost track of my camera implements–USB cord, battery charger–so I’ve been taking food pictures with Nate’s g1. It’s pretty good, but it doesn’t have a flash and you have to be super-still to get a good shot. Seeing as how I’m usually about as stable as a bag of marbles, most of ’em don’t come out very well. But a couple did!

I found some eggplants in the fridge and decided to make baigan bharta, since I hadn’t in ages. It was great! The only downside was running out of time prior to our 7:20 showing of Scott Pilgrim vs the World, rushing out with only rhubarb soda to sustain us. Thank goodness bharta improves with a good long sit. We ate at nearly 10, greedily shoving forkfuls of mashed mad apple into our mouths as we ruminated over lost relationships. Probably would have been a lot more depressing without the baigan. Definitely.

Yesterday I made my old standby, bhindi masala. I’m almost out of amchoor powder, and since I sadly won’t be making it to the Dekalb Farmer’s Market anytime soon, I ordered from Chicago’s spice house. Only they lost my order, and now I’ll probably be out before it gets to me! I can’t win at anything.

This bhindi was possibly the best ever because of the addition of heirloom Green Zebra tomatoes from earlham’s Farm and Jan & Dan’s Arden Hearth garden. I am now addicted to green zebras and bought almost five pounds at the market today to use in everything.

We’re still getting settled into this gorgeous new house. The best part is watching the cats explore the place. They’re both mighty curious. One late night, while unpacking about 10,000lbs of textiles, Perl decided to climb into the closet. Adorableness ensued:

Oh, herro.

Whaa, you is working? I are in your way?

I are good cat, for once. Goodbye!

A little over two weeks ago I purchased four eggplants at the Saturday morning farmer’s market here in Richmond. The noblest of the eggplants travelled with high hopes to Ann Arbor but made its way back; the other three have just been lolling about in the bottom of a veg drawer since purchase. I’ve been putting off doing anything with them because my favorite thing to do with eggplant is make baigan bharta, a roasted and smashed Indian eggplant delight. But with the hour required to roast the eggplants + 35 minutes for everything else, it is a dish that takes some time…time I just haven’t really had.

But oh, I am loathe to throw away food. Side note: I haven’t always been this way. I remember my mom fussing at me frequently for purchasing vegetables and then letting them go to waste. I tell you this now, Meesar: those days are past.

Tonight was the night that I decided I absolutely had (time?) to do something with the four mostly spoiled eggplants languishing in the crisper. Ever hopefully, I speared them, brushed them with olive oil, and roasted them in a 415 degree oven for a little over an hour. When they came out, the skins were black–to be expected–but, upon prodding, so were the insides–unquestionably not to be expected.


Fresh eggplant, when roasted properly, should give way easily to gentle poking. The skin should strip away effortlessly, leaving the creamy-beige flesh to kind of sigh out. Once cut in to, the whole thing should just sort of collapse, its structural integrity destroyed by roasting. It will often be creamy enough to skip a trip to the food processor.

Let me just put it this way: all of the eggplants save one exhibited none of these characteristics. They were tough, held their form past roasting, and definitely needed to be run through the food processor!

Nevertheless, I was able to make one of my best baigan bhartas ever. Not only that, but because I had four eggplants to get rid of and I usually employ only one while making this recipe, I QUADRUPLED the recipe with devastatingly delicious results.

(Something of a) Recipe: Three huge onions chopped & browned in olive oil + 8 tsp coriander, 4 tsp cumin, 2 tsp paprika, 2 tsp garam masala, 2 tsp chili powder, a few pinches of turmeric + four pureed eggplants + tons and tons of garlic (uhm, about 10 cloves) + two chopped jalepenos + a cup of chopped cilantro + half a bag of frozen peas + 28 oz can of chopped tomatoes (I usually use fresh) + a homemade vegan creme = 16 servings of super tasty deliciousness or meals for the next three days. Good to know it can be done!

Though it is a tremendous understatement to say that baigan bharta isn’t much to look at, here’s a picture:


Since I didn’t attempt anything awesome in the kitchen today, I’m cheating and doing Whoa Wren’s VeganMoFo2009 survey.

1. Favorite non-dairy milk?

N & I drink Kroger’s Naturally Preferred Organic Red Box Plain soymilk pretty much exclusively. It’s organic, tastes great, and costs $5.00 a gallon (regular price $2.50/half gallon). With Silk climbing as high as $3.89/half gallon in this area, it’s the most economical.

NOTE: We love soymilk so much that, upon being asked at a job interview what he’d do with two million dollars, N said he’d secure a lifetime supply of the stuff for us. (To be fair, that was the “selfish answer”; he also answered magnanimously.)

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook?

Kale creations, bhindi masala, baked winter squash (or spaghetti squash concoctions).

3. Topping of choice for popcorn?

The master recipe is thus: stove-top-popped corn with about a tablespoon of melted earth balance drizzled over it, then tossed, then drenched in Bragg’s aminos from the spray bottle, then tossed, then tossed with white pepper, then tossed with about a third a cup of nutritional yeast. It is so good, sometimes we eat this as a meal…because just thinking about it makes us crave it unbearably…okay, I’m pretty sure that I’ll soon be typing with nutritional yeast breath.

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure?

Devastatingly, I recently F-ed up two desserts in one night. Sigh.

5. Favorite pickled item?

Okra! And, you know, boring old cucumbers.

6. How do you organize your recipes?

The cookbooks are on shelves under the microwave. The printed-out collection resides messily in a structurally-unsound plastic folder-type thing. I also love to tape recipes to cabinets so that I can read them easily while working.

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal?

Compost. Thanks to our landlords, we have a super composter.

8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods…what would they be (don’t worry about how you’ll cook them)?

1) Stevia, because I’m addicted to it, but since it probably doesn’t count as a food per se I’ll name three more 2) Onions 3) Mushrooms 4) Watermelon

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood?

My mom’s cabbage; my dad’s everything-in-the-cupboards vegan vegetable soups; any of the insane birthday cakes mom designed and ordered for me. She did not mess around with the cake.

10. Favorite vegan ice cream?

(guest written by N): Purely Decadent COOKIE AVALANCHE by SO DELICIOUS/Turtle Mountain

One cannot understand the Avalanche of Cookies without appreciating the taxonomy and characteristics of the manner of things one can find in such an Avalanche.

Surely, one does best when one encounters a veritable King Cookie (gendered bias intentional) in the course of Avalanche consumption. To qualify as Kingly, this nugget of wonder must be of sufficient size; say, approaching roughly half the size of a double stuffed oreo. Such a joyous event happens only about once per carton (so buy several cartons at once).

Princely cookies, thus, are chunks of delicious that are only about a quarter the size of a double stuffed oreo. These are still noble finds and a lucky consumer should enjoy three or four of them per carton.

We suggest giving your Avalanche lots of attention; excavate it carefully by digging in your spoon and flipping over big hunks to seek Kings and Princes jutting out. Then gently carve out the findings and enjoy.

Truly, you will discover that the thrill of cookie archaeology makes the Avalanche the most compelling and fabulous of all vegan ice cream delights.


11. Most loved kitchen appliance?

this one bowl that is perfect for containing things made with the hand mixer. Okay, not actually an appliance, but it facilitates an appliance!

12. Spice/herb you would die without?

I use a lot of salt, thyme, tumeric, coriander and cumin.

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time?

I grew up with my mom’s Southern Living Annuals. Of my own, probably Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini by Elizabeth Schneider. I wish everyone could have a copy of this insanely expensive but gorgeous book.

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?

Black raspberry from the Amish

15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?

The GRIT’s vegan chicken salad (featuring GRIT yeast gravy & GRIT viniagrette)…it went over tremendously at a fourth of july get-together. Or anything smothered in GRIT gravy.

16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh?

I love seitan (especially Isa’s recipes!!) when I can get it, but I mostly cook with TVP from dixie diner and tofu.

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?

time: when I’m not hungry.

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator?

10 boxes of Kashi cereal (Richmond Kroger is closing ’em out at $2 a BOX!!); two bicycle helmets; a pair of bicycle gloves; two rolls of unbleached recycled paper towels; dust bunnies

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.

Uhm, not to brag, but I can name basically every item in my freezer without looking. There’s a pound of quinoa, two pounds of Bob’s Red Mill vital wheat gluten, wheat flour, six quart freezer bags of whole raspberries from Michigan, several pounds of butter beans, a bag of Recipe Beginnings peppers, lots of dried Frontier herbs, a 6-lb block of SoyBoy tofu, two loaves of banana nut bread, blueberries from Monica’s great-grandparents’ house in PA, two boxes of Boca burgers, some homemade veggie burgers, bread flour, sesame seeds, frozen peas…the list goes on. Hm, now that I think about it, it’s actually kind of embarrassing to have all that food stored up. Good thing I’ve planned November’s blogging project to be eat-from-the-cupboards!

20. What’s on your grocery list?

I went shopping yesterday and today; yield: Mori-Nu tofu, granola bars, organic olive oil, organic water-packed extra-firm tofu, cereal, soymilk, onions, garlic, sweet potatoes, pickles, veggie burgers, and mustards.

21. Favorite grocery store?

Not too many alternative choices in Richmond. I love our Co-op, but it’s currently in transition and closed. Nature’s Nook is good for hard-to-find ingredients, but not really food. Meijer has a great fresh organic section but it also uses old-fashioned open freezer cases and for that reason I routinely boycott them. Embarrasingly, Kroger is really my BFF. Cheap soymilk, tofu, a decent natural foods section and tons of good manager’s specials.

In Atlanta: Your Dekalb Farmer’s Market & the Buford Highway Farmer’s Market!

22. Name a recipe you’d love to veganize, but haven’t yet.

ANGEL FOOD CAKE. I purchased Bryanna Clark Grogan’s recipe but I haven’t taken the time to make it yet. Maybe this month…?!?!

23. Food blog you read the most (besides Isa’s because I know you check it everyday). Or maybe the top 3?

Probably Kittee’s because she encouraged me in this whole VeganMoFo thing. And Bryanna’s Vegan Feast Kitchen. To be honest, I’m still finding my way in the vegan blogging community.

24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?

Catbar by Endangered Species chocolates; coconut marshmallows by Sweet & Sara. Ritter Sport marzipan.

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?

The aforementioned 6 freezer bags of Michigan raspberries I brought back from the visit with Jiji.

26. Ingredients you are scared to work with?

xantham gum, especially after Kittee’s post about it.