The past few weeks I have thought about dedicating a regular weekly post to a particular kind of cooking or baking. Of course I love all kinds of cooking, but as some of you may know, I have a soft spot for baking and hence why I decided to make this my profession. Creating and crafting sweet bakes has been my passion since forever.
Since starting this blog a few years ago it is certainly starting to evolve to be true of it’s description: “A Scrapblog of global culinary adventures, delicious discoveries and picture memories punctuated by life.” Over time, I have however, archived a number of posts that were off topic or that I feel are not relevant now. This year I restarted the blog with the focus back on my culinary adventures. Cooking has taken over the burden of being my Kitchen Therapist from Baking in recent times. For me cooking and creating a meal is much more than experimenting with new flavours, cuisines, techniques and whatnot…it’s about sustenance, family, love, daily life and so much more. Cooking brings family and friends together and hence why there is no one more I’d rather cook for.
Unlike with baking, most of what I cook is by estimation or Andaza (as my Mother or Grandmother would say) and so I have never really thought to document my recipes or trials having learnt the methods and techniques from my elders and stored them in my head is enough for the most part. However, there are times when I do want to recreate a dish that came out well and I’d rather be sure that it turns out good again or I want to share a recipe and so I realise documenting them comes in handy. More than this, cooking is not just about the recipes; as I indulge myself more and more in experimentation I realise and appreciate the memories that are attached to the dishes I either want to recreate or the flavour memories that I have stored that I want to try to incorporate into something new. It is the memories that make the dishes special. For me, my love for cooking has evolved from my memories most of which I have my family to thank for.
Being from a Hindu family, a lot of the Indian food that we eat is vegetarian. My family origins are Punjabi and my Grandparents were born in what is now Pakistan before both sides of my family had to relocate and they moved literally all over the world (I will save that story for another day!). Even though my family in general is not vegetarian (bar a few members that choose to be out of preference), we do have some religious traditions that we follow such as auspicious days that we will refrain from eating meat. These days include religious days such a s Diwali and the 10 days of Navratri and many more depending on which sect of Hinduism you belong to or participate in. These events happen once a year, but there are also many Hindus that follow weekly traditions such as when they are fasting in dedication to a particular deity. My family do not follow any particular deities as our beliefs stem from the Vedas (religious /spiritual scriptures) rather than the deities. However due to my family’s friendships in other Hindu communities, when they moved, they adopted some traditions from the other sects that their friends followed.
One of these traditions is abstaining from eating meat every Tuesday. When I was younger I don’t remember being told why we didn’t eat meat on Tuesdays. I didn’t find it strange as it became a habit and something that I didn’t think about. As I got older and more inquisitive, I did start to ask questions and my mother told me that for us, it was because Tuesday is the day dedicated to Lord Ganesh (The God of good luck and fortune) and Lord Hanuman (The protector from evil). She went on to explain the significance and that out of respect we refrain from meat on that particular day in worship to these deities.
I like that I have a background to why, and I continue to do it out of family tradition and religious respect, but it is not just about that for me. I like that I am dedicating at least one day a week to remembering my spirituality and secondly giving my body a break from meat. However much I love all kinds of meat, my body always feels happiest after eating fruits and vegetables.
And to this I begin my weekly series of Meat- Free Tuesday Recipes! Every week I will endeavour to bring you a favourite or experimental Indian vegetarian recipe . There are so many to share for the vegetarian recipes are what the Indian cuisine is built on.
Aubergine, Potato & Pepper Sabzi In Full Colour – Baingan Aloo Sabzi
As with many vegetarian Indian dishes, this is utterly wholesome and packed full of flavour. Ready to serve within 30 mins; it’s a great addition to a weekday recipe repetior when you’re short of time.
- 2 aubergines cut into 1 inch square chunks
- 1 large potato cut into 1 inch square chunks
- 1 large red pepper or 2 smaller ones cut into 1 inch square chunks
- 2-4 tbsp sweet corn
- 1 onion chopped finely
- 1-3 green chilis chopped (to taste)
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 1-2 tomatoes chopped
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/4- 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (to taste)
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- salt to taste (about 1- 1 1/2 tsp)
- 1 tsp garam masala (I use a homemade one that I have made in the Punjabi style)
- 1 spring onion and or fresh coriander/cilantro finely chopped for garnishing (optional)
- Toast the cumin & mustard seeds in 2-3 tbs oil. When fluttering, add chopped onions & green chillies and fry until translucent for a couple of minutes.
- Next add the tomato paste and tomatoes and a tbsp or so of water. Cook until oil leaves the tomato paste- stirring to avoid the masala touching down in the pan.
- Add the dry spices- turmeric, coriander, red chilli and salt cook for 1-2 mins
- Next add all the vegetables and stir well coating them all with the masala evenly. If the veg start to touch down in the pan, add a couple tbsp of water .
- Bring the pan to the boil and sprinkle over garam masala.
- Put a lid on the pan and turn the heat right down to a low setting- a very gentle simmer and cook for 15 mins of until the potatoes are done.
- Take lid off and stir. Garnish with sliced spring onions and or finely sliced coriander.
- Serve with fresh hot chapattis, yogurt and dal or alone with rice or a salad for a lighter meal. It keeps well in the fridge for a few days.