Monday, March 11, 2013

Making Everyday Meals Exciting

I was lucky to have grown up having my mom cook us fresh meals every day, twice a day! It was after I started running a kitchen of my own that I realized the challenges of keeping everyday meals exciting. I gotta love my mom for being able to whip up different and exciting meals to keep 6 tummies and tongues pleased all the time. We weren't picky about our food, but let's just say, we were spoiled by great cooks in the house :D. Mom left no room for complaints though. Even on the days we ate simple rice and daal, she would look at whatever was available in the pantry/fridge and come up with a quick side dish to dress up the plate. Like this, this, or  this

Today's recipe is one of my favorites that mom often made. A quick tomato bhaji - a wonderful concoction of sweet and sour, slightly spicy flavors. Although this bhaji looks somewhat like a chutney, it is to be consumed fresh. It doesn't store in the fridge. I love how it adds a little something to a simple dinner with minimal effort and readily available ingredients. The tomatoes of course give it a tangy taste, but two aromatic spices provide an element of surprise - cloves and cinnamon. While the dish is very simple to make, the flavors are complex and satisfy all the taste buds. For some variation, add curry leaves to the tempering, spice it up with a little bit of cumin-coriander powder or garam masala, add ground peanuts for body, or you can even top it off with thin sev for a bit of crunch! All of these versions taste great. 

Tomato Bhaji

3 Plump tomatoes - roughly chopped
1 Shallot - thinly sliced
2 Garlic cloves - crushed and roughly chopped
1 Large serrano chili - chopped
4-5 cloves
1 Inch cinnamon stick
For tempering - 2 Teaspoons oil, 1/2 Teaspoon mustard seeds, 1/4 Teaspoon turmeric
Sugar to taste
Salt to taste
Red chili powder if needed
Cilantro for garnishing
  • Heat oil in a kadhai and add mustard seeds. 
  • Once the mustard seeds splutter, add turmeric, chopped garlic, shallot, chili, cloves and cinnamon. Saute for a couple of minutes. 
  • Add tomatoes, sprinkle a little bit of sugar to balance the tang of tomatoes and let the bhaji cook until the tomatoes are soft. I like the bhaji well cooked. For extra heat, add some red chili powder. It'll enhance the red color as well. 
  • Add salt to taste, mix well and turn off the heat. 
  • Garnish with some chopped cilantro. 
Tomato bhaji tastes great with rice, roti or even bread. 


Priyanka said...

As always simple and perfect recipe. I was introduced to this recipe during Hostel days. I call it tomato chutney and its my absolute favorite! Mr. Husband calls it Indian Salsa and enjoys it with chips and crackers. :)

Snehal said...

Simplicity is what I like in everyday cooking. Simple foods are most often healthier as well. I am imagining all sorts of cracker toppings with this now!


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