A first-class Indian meal. Every dish is vegetarian except for sausages at the bottom edge of the photo. Clockwise from the very top; Dahl curry soup, homemade Puri(deep fried flatbread thing, similar to naan), the sausages, more Puri, Stir-fried eggplant, and at the centre of the lunch table is curried courgette. The last two I’ve got the recipes of, which I’ll be sharing in this post.
This was at my mum’s friend’s house who is Indian-Fijian. As in an Indian who lives in Fiji. Don’t be surprised, there are actually a lot of Indians living in Fiji, some of them are even 2nd or 3rd generation. I didn’t go to this ‘Indian Feast’ because didn’t know anyone(so duh), they’re my mother’s school-mates plus some of the foods on free-offer were actually quite fatty and oily so I would probably be passing and dodging i.e. the carby and oily Puri, then I would seem rude. The curry recipes are still awesome because they’re super easy and simple to make, perfect for beginners in Indian cooking. They can also be ‘healthied’ up by using less oil, in order to create the ultimate healthy Indian meals, with lots of veggies and antioxidant-bursting spices.
The recipes for the Puri, dahl curry soup and stir-fried sausages thingy are sadly unavailable. This is due to many reasons…. My mum’s friend basically make the Puri all by natural instincts(can probably make them blind folded) as in she doesn’t have fixed measurements for each ingredient. They’re all just basically thrown in together depending on how many dinner guests she’s got. For the dahl and sausages dish, my mum have never tried cooking them before(we don’t eat meat anyways, well, except for my fish heads YUM), as in we haven’t ‘ease and simplicity-proofed’ those recipes yet. The recipes I’ll be giving all of you are the ones that have been experimented with our inexperienced Indian-cooking hands, and have nevertheless worked out awesome.
First, before the cooking procedures, a short and pithy introduction to few main Indian spices(the ones you will ever need, which is great for simplicity);
(Obviously the courgette, ginger, onion and curry leaves aren’t spices)
From the left side, we’ve got curry powder, turmeric, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, salt and Indian chili powder(or just plain chili powder for that matter)
These spices even in small amounts can provide pretty decent nutritional additions to your diet(most of them are immune boosters). Here’s a short summary of the nutritional benefits of these five spices:
Curry powder – Detoxifying, helps improve circulation, joint pain and also control appetite.
Turmeric – Apparently good for your skin(utilized into skin products in South/South-East Asia) and helps with relieving sore throat, I’ve tested this one myself(Gargle with warm water and lemon juice. Taste disturbing, but if you’re desperate, go for it because it helps.)
Cumin seeds – A pretty average source of iron(nowhere near squash and pumpkin seeds, iron source for vegetarians), and immune boosting. Full of distinctive, savoury flavour, great as a salt substitute.
Fennel seeds – Contains antioxidant, minerals and fibre.
Chili powder – Contains antioxidant, helps manage cholesterol and boosts metabolism.
And now, enough with the educational ranting, here is the first super easy Indian recipe:
Courgette curry recipe
5 medium sized courgette
2 tsp crushed fresh ginger and garlic
Around 10 curry leaves
About 3-4 mild red chili(if it was the Thai kind, trust me, you wouldn’t put 3-4 into one dish… stomach and diarrheaic nightmare) Purely optional. The chili only provide a tad degree of spiciness though.
1 tsp of each of the five spices/seeds
2 tsp of salt (the mother-friend adds much more than this, but the amount can be reduced because of already existing strong flavours of curry leaves, spices, etc.)
1 tbsp of oil (can reduce a bit further for health-nuts)
Note: Curry leaves add a distinctive flavour to these Indian dishes(spicy/savoury-ish taste) so unfortunately you do need to scavenge for them otherwise your food will not taste like the original.
Method: Chop the onions into rings, dice the courgette into small pieces, and set aside. Ground the ginger with a grater(or grate the ginger with a grater?) then crush it even further with a mortar and pestle, along with about two cloves of garlic, set this aside. Stir-fry the onions, curry leaves in heated oil in a pan or pot. Stir-fry for about 1-2 minutes, then add chopped red chili and the spices/seeds to the pan. Stir-fry for about 2-3 minutes until the onions are soft, then add the crushed garlic and ginger. Stir-fry for another 2-3 minutes and then add the courgettes. Stir-fry this mixture for 2-3 minutes then cover the pan and let it simmer on medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring every now and then. Take off the lid then stir-fry until becomes mushy, about 5 minutes. The dish is done in 35 minutes max!
(The fresh ginger root has been transformed to mush in the mortar)
With about 1 tbsp of oil, stir-fry the onions and curry leaves until the onions are slightly soft.
The chili are in. The mother-friend is currently adding in the spices. You will now begin to smell a delicious mix of spicy aroma, or a nose-tingling whiff, then after about 1-2 minutes of beating those chili around in the put, you will begin to sneeze uncontrollably(they’re not that strong actually, I’m only exaggerating).
After about 2-3 minutes, your onions will be soft enough for the ground ginger(crushed with garlic) to join in the fun. Mixture is now red with chili blood.
Add the good old courgette(diced into cute little cubes) into the pot(or you can use a pan, wok, whatever you please).
Cover and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Stirring every now and then(And I mean it, otherwise all your courgettes will not be cooked through).
And this is how your courgettes will turn out like after about 10 minutes. Right now your courgette is cooked and ready to be eaten. This dish can be served up as seen in this photo, or cooked a bit further to become mushy like baby food. Just kidding, I’ve tried both versions and they’re both delicious(because they’re basically made up of identical ingredients, just different textures). It depends on what type of food you feel like eating at that moment, and what you’re eating it with i.e. rice(chunky courgettes would be more suitable) or roti/naan/other Indian flat breads(the paste-like one).
The end product(Recycling the first photo). Ready for dipping with flat breads or yum yum with rice.
Eggplant or Baigan curry stir-fry recipe
8 Baigans(Indian, very bright purple, smaller eggplants) or 2 large eggplants
2 tsp crushed fresh ginger and garlic
About 3-4 mild red chili (Again, optional)
1 tsp of cumin seeds
2 tsp of salt (or to taste)
1 tbsp of oil
Method: Chop the onions into rings, slice the eggplant into small pieces(around 2 inches long), and set aside. Ground the ginger with a grater then crush it even further with a mortar and pestle, along with two cloves of garlic. Stir-fry the onions, in heated oil in a pan or pot. Stir-fry for about 1-2 minutes, then add chopped red chili and the cumin seeds to the pan. Stir-fry for about 2-3 minutes until the onions are soft, then add crushed ginger and garlic. Stir-fry another 2-3 minutes and then add the eggplants. Stir-fry for about 6-7 minutes then cover the pan and let it simmer on medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring every now and then. Take off the lid then stir-fry until becomes mushy. The dish is done in 30 minutes max!
I’ve probably already used “stir-fry” more than twenty times by this sentence.
The initial methods are pretty much the same as the courgette one i.e. frying the onions, garlic, ginger, chili, etc. The only difference is that you’re omitting curry leaves and spices/seeds other than cumin seeds from the dish. Apparently this dish taste uberly delicious, my mum said it tastes even better than the previous dish(I wonder why). You can use these basic recipes(which are very similar) to experiment with various other veggies i.e. pumpkin, potatoes, etc.(I’ve never tried myself but should taste delicious nevertheless) then call them your own original Indian dishes! A dinner guests impress-er.
Add the eggplants/baigans.
Stir-fry for a bit before covering the pan up to let the eggplants simmer and soften up(i.e. become edible and not poisonous to eat)
Dun dun dun! It’s done! It’s almost like baba ghanoush! Can be served up the same way as the courgette dish.