Friday, June 28, 2013

Tava fry stuffed vegetables

Tonight's Menu
Tava vegetables
Onion mint raita
Crisp whole wheat naan

Do you get drawn to these tava fried veggies at the Indian wedding food stalls? I love them all - karela, baigan, mirch, bhindi the whole nine yards. As a kid, I remember gravitating towards the tava area where the grilled veggies, kebabs, and Roomali roti was in the making.

Crisp whole veggies are stuffed with dry spices and cooked on a flat iron tava (griddle). This type of cooking keeps the vegetable tender-crisp. At the wedding tava stall, they add a lot of oil and literally fry the veggies with onion and tomato masala. This is a modified version where I roast the vegetables stuffed with only the dry spice mix. Some harder veggies can be precooked by making them tender in the microwave or blanching them just a bit before stuffing with the dry spices. This will allow us to use less oil for cooking and also reduces the cooking time. I like to serve it with crisp naan and a cool onion mint yogurt.
I like to make my own masala for stuffing. The recipe can be found here. You can try that or buy ready to use. 

Tava fry/grilled mixed vegetables
Ingredients: (generously serves 4)

20 bhindi (okra)
10 small Indian eggplants
4-5 large green chili peppers
20 tindora (Ivy Gourd)
Tava fry masala mix (recipe here), quantity as required
salt to taste
oil for frying
  1. Wash and dry all the veggies. 
  2. Remove the heads of okra and slit them lengthwise.
  3. Slit chilies and tindora lengthwise.
  4. Keeping the stem intact give a criss-cross slit to the eggplants taking care not to separate the segments. 
  5. Salt the insides of all the prepped veggies and leave them on the cutting board for 20 minutes to drain. (remember tava masala has some rock salt)
  6. Stuff all the veggies with the dry tava masala and grill / shallow fry on a hot tava griddle with a sprinkle of oil. Cook at medium-high and turn occasionally for even browning. You can also use the flat attachment of the indoor BBQ. Cook till tender crisp about 7-10 minutes.
  7. You can use small baby potatoes, parval, pearl onions and small karela using the same procedure. Half cook (microwave for 3-5 minutes) potatoes before salting, stuffing, and frying.
  8. Serve with onion mint raita (vegans omit this) and toasted whole wheat naan.

Onion mint raita (vegans omit this)

2 cups plain yogurt
1 medium red onion chopped fine
large handful each of fresh mint and coriander chopped fine
salt to taste (optional)
1/2 tsp cumin powder

Mix all ingredients and stir well to get a smooth raita. Refrigerate for half hour before serving to let flavors blend.

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