Delicious World of Chefette Spicy

formerly Ladles and High Heels


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Thai Basil Eggplant

Holidays are nearly on top of us and I have no idea how this whole year zipped by. Although I am busy lovin’ winter, what with the sudden, global warming-induced 80° F weather and all that, I cannot help but miss the glorious summer we had. The summer filled with fresh produce, an abundant supply of sweet basil and trips to the farmer’s market that left me with a dilemma of what to buy and what to let go of… Sigh, what a beautiful season that was!

On the brighter side, I discovered the joys of one of the biggest farmer’s market in Atlanta right on time and although I am not going to be able to visit it often, I know that I can always find season-appropriate fresh produce there, if we can manage a two-hour car ride from this side of the country. And we have friends who visit Atlanta and the market regularly, so in case we ever feel too lazy to venture out, we can always request them to grab a few things for us… like we did last weekend.
baby food_yogurt3Our friends brought back fresh Thai basil amongst other produce. I was so taken by the herb that I decided it was time to make it the star of the show! After a couple of, erm, episodes involving curries named after various colors in the recent past, I decided to wing it and use the Japanese eggplant I had in the refrigerator along with peppers and call it a dinner. I surprise myself sometimes! 😉
Thai basil eggplantThai basil eggplant3

Thai Basil Eggplant

Ingredients:
Two Japanese eggplants, cut into three inch pieces

One bunch Thai basil, julienned

One onion, sliced thin

Two sweet red bell peppers, julienned (you can use a combination of different colors also)

Half cup babycorn, cut into bite size pieces

Quarter cup coconut milk

Quarter cup water

One Tbsp minced garlic

One tsp red chili flakes

Quarter cup light soy sauce

Quarter cup mushroom-flavored oyster sauce

Quarter cup Hoisin sauce

Quarter cup chili sauce like Sriracha or Sambal Olek (I used a combination of both)

Half tsp pepper

Quarter cup canola or vegetable oil

Method:
Heat two Tbsps of oil in a pan. Sauté the eggplants over medium-high heat, stirring just a couple of times. Make sure the pan sizzles all the time, else the eggplant will mush. As you cook the eggplant, heat the rest of the oil in a wok or a bigger pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook on high heat. When slightly browned, add the peppers and turn the heat to medium. When the peppers soften slightly, mix in the sauces, chili flakes and half the basil. Let the sauce cook and bubble. When it is nearly absorbed, pour in the coconut milk and quarter cup water along with the babycorn. Now add the eggplant to the pan and gently stir. Garnish with the rest of the basil and eat up or I will!
Thai basil eggplant2

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Photography Styling Challenge- Light

What a disastrous month this has been! Apart from studying, driving baby A to daycare and cooking (badly at that) for basic survival, I have been up to absolutely nothing! Throw in a couple of weeks of being totally sick (yes, all of us!) and I was ready to call it quits and run back crying to Amma. Thankfully, that has passed but unfortunately, I had to give up that one thing which has been bringing me respite since I joined this challenge back in October: messing about with my camera.

Hence, I was so unprepared for this month’s challenge. In fact, I realized that the first Monday was already upon me only when I saw a couple of posts on our (very secret) Facebook page. Since it was already too late, I had to rummage around on my memory card and find interesting concepts that I had already photographed since the beginning of the challenge. Thankfully, I did not disappoint me as much as I though I would. I had apparently practiced a couple of times for this concept because I knew it was going to be a difficult albeit super interesting subject to click.
light3I know, this picture could have been so much more but I was in a hurry to get going, something that happens when you have a bawling baby waiting for dinner. It was after Thanksgiving, on a long-awaited visit to the World of Coca Cola in Atlanta. We were just coming back home when this festively lit tree caught my attention. I had to click a picture, I mean, how can I not?!
light4Again, so much more. But I loved the pretty lights. I wanted to get that out-of-focus effect but decided to make it straightforward.  I had to pick between two other pictures but was completely confused. So I decided to go with the prettier, more whimsical concept to bring it home and call this challenge done.
Light2This was one of my Instagram pics a couple of weeks ago. Although I clicked it on my DSLR, I decided to stow it away for this specific challenge. I am in the process of planning baby A’s first birthday. Now wait a minute. I know you are probably going “ALREADY?!” The thing is I like being ahead on planning huge events (sentiment-wise, not size-wise). And if the past month was any reflection on how life is going to be for the next couple of years, it only makes sense to plan waaay ahead of time because when time flies, WHAM! It hits you in the face.

So I was playing around with gift tissue papers and decided to figure out how to make those poms. After a couple of tutorials, I made a pretty but slightly frazzled pom and thought it would be a beauty to click pics of. I was right and wrong.

To know more about the photography styling challenge, click here

Do visit the other participants’ blogs and take a look at their challenge photographs:
Redesigned By M
At The Corner Of Happy And Harried
My Food Tapestry
Inge Kathleen Photography
A Woven Life
City Girl Searching
A Tree Grows in the Bayou
I Live Under A Rock
Hooked On Homes
MeraKitchen
Miss Wang Photography
Simply Vegetarian


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Comfort Food to End the Weekend

Phew, what a weekend! We finally decided to venture out with Aarabhi so we took her to the Siva-Vishnu Hindu Temple in Atlanta. Um, let me just say it was an, er, interesting day. If you know what happens when you take a normally fussy six-weeks-old on a two-and-a-half hour drive to the city, you would know what I mean. It was one of those days I wished we had lived in a big city instead of our little corner in Alabama.
OlanSince we were going to the Atlanta anyway, we also thought it would be a good idea to show Amma around the city. She shot down our offers to take her to the aquarium (“no way!”), the Coke museum (uh-huh!) and the CNN museum (“are you kidding me?!”). Since there isn’t much else to see in Atlanta, Amma picked a visit to IKEA instead. With a temperamental baby in tow, we visited the temple, then the Indian grocer and then IKEA… and we also managed to make the return trip back home.

pbm-parotta

Paneer-Mushroom Masala and Layer Parotta (Tamil Nadu style): Friday’s dinner is Saturday’s leftover. Such is life, my friend…

Well, all I can say is it is going to take us a loooooong time (and a lot of growing up for Aarabhi) to make that trip again. We reached home at ten thirty and ate Friday’s leftovers for dinner. We took today’s lunch easy too but for Dinner, Amma made Olan.
Olan is a dish native to Kerala, a Southern state in India. This coconutty dish is made with white pumpkin and black eyed peas, mildly seasoned with Thai green chilies and curry leaves. As I’ve already mentioned probably a million times, thanks to my paternal grandma, our cuisine has a lot of Mallu influence. Hence, the family has taken Olan for granted and it has become a comfort food of sorts at home. Amma makes a killer Olan and I’ve been troubling her to make it since she landed here. We had an extra coconut to spare today and a wedge of white pumpkin sleeping in the refrigerator. We were even more in luck when we discovered some cooked Azuki beans (a variant of black eyed peas) in the freezer and realized that the Olan gods were sending us an obvious message…

Olan

Ingredients:
Quarter White Pumpkin, finely diced

Three quarters cup cooked black eyed peas (or in our case, Azuki beans)

Four Thai green chilies

Two cups coconut milk, equally divided. Add two cups water to one cup

Curry leaves

Two tsp coconut oil

Quarter tsp cayenne pepper

One and a half tsp salt

Method:
Cook the diced pumpkin in the diluted coconut milk, along with the chilies, curry leaves, cayenne pepper powder and salt. When tender, switch off the heat and mix in the rest of the coconut milk. Finally, drizzle the coconut oil on top (if you don’t have coconut oil at home, don’t drizzle any oil. The coconut milk gives it the richness it needs). Eat it as an accompaniment to Sambar and rice if you have made a complete Indian food menu or mix it in with rice and eat it with a curry. Coming to think of it, with a little more gravy and a squeeze of lemon, it would also make a good soup. Burp and Happy Meatless Monday, y’all!
Olan2
And once again, I blog something Amma made. But in her own words, “I cook, you blog. It is only till November anyway.” Boohoo, why did you remind me of that, mom?!

Ps: Friday’s dinner was my work of “art”. Two grueling hours in the kitchen was totally worth it when my layer Parottas came out all soft and flaky. It deserves a special blog post and better pictures, which I promise will happen the next time I make it.


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Har-har

Call me delusional but I can hear my invisible audience laughing. Laughing hysterically at my total lack of ability to keep up my resolution. I did say I was going to write everyday, but in my defense, I have been swamped with other things like viral infections and non-blog writing.

The Atlanta trip was lovely, met friends, had cake, partied toddler style and ended up in Dulles very late on Sunday night to be greeted by incessant rains. The husband fell ill immediately (talk about weak resistance!) and I was busy pampering him for nearly a week. He is up and active now, thanks for asking.

But now, I am back on track, ready to write and give you, my invisible lovelies, something to scroll through. How does that sound?