Monthly Archives: May 2011

Zippy Zucchini Koftas with Aromatic Tomato Sauce

Zippy Zucchini Koftas with Aromatic Tomato Sauce

Hello and Welcome to This Spicy Life…

Zucchini – what’s not to love? From the quirky name to the tender, summery taste. It’s extremely adaptable and can be used in all types of cooking. I love to make a quick stir-fry in a little bit of olive oil and garlic, but I love even more to make (and eat) little vegetarian “meatballs” called Koftas. They are hearty and flavorful and make an excellent entrée. Koftas are sometimes very firm, sometimes soft and tender. They are almost always served with a sauce of some type – tomato, cream, butter and even spinach or other green sauce.

Not only is this an easy recipe, it looks impressive. The sauce is flavorful and spicy, with varying layers of heat and savory spices to compliment the koftas and rice. This is a good recipe to make when you have guests since you can make the koftas and sauce ahead of time and put them together right before serving. However, don’t let the koftas sit in the sauce for too long as they will become mushy and soak up all of the sauce.

Zippy Zucchini Koftas with Aromatic Tomato Sauce

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients for the Koftas:

  • 1 1/2 cups zucchini, washed and grated
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped finely
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 to 2 cups chickpea flour (besan)
Method for the Koftas:
  1. Place grated zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with the salt. Set aside for a minimum of 10 minutes, allowing the moisture to drain away from the zucchini. Squeeze out as much water as possible and place the zucchini in a bowl.
  2. Add the chopped onion and all of the spices and baking powder and mix together well.   
  3. Mix in 1 cup of the chickpea flour. Add more chickpea flour a little bit at a time to make a fairly thick batter. There should be plenty of moisture in the zucchini and onion so that you don’t have to add water. If for some reason it is too dry, just add a tiny bit of water to make a thick batter. It should be able to hold the shape of a ball but not be too stiff. Taste the batter for chili and salt level and adjust to taste.
  4. Heat a pan of oil for deep-frying (usually deep-frying is done at 350F). Very carefully drop the batter by the spoonful into the hot oil and fry for 3 – 5 minutes (this will depend on how wet your batter is and the size of your koftas). Turn the koftas to ensure even browning and remove from oil when they are evenly browned. If you aren’t sure if the kofta is cooked through, test one before frying more. Drain the cooked koftas and set aside.   
Ingredients for the Tomato Sauce:
  • 3 tsp oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 cloves
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 1″ piece of cinnamon stick (or scant 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder)
  • 1 tbsp garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 /2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 3 cups tomatoes, chopped (use fresh or canned)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • pinch of sugar or agave (optional)
Method for the Tomato Sauce:
  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. 
  2. Add the cumin seeds, cloves, peppercorn and cinnamon and stir around for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the onions and garlic and allow to cook until the onions are translucent, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
  4. Stir in the cumin powder, coriander powder, chili powder and turmeric and allow to cook for 30 seconds longer. Add a bit more oil if things are starting to stick.
  5. Turn the heat to medium low and stir in the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and sugar/agave (if using). Allow to cook until the tomatoes are nicely reduced to an almost smooth sauce. You can add a bit of water if the tomatoes need more time to cook. This step can take anywhere from around 10 minutes to 30 minutes. 
  6. Turn off the heat. Carefully remove the cloves and cinnamon stick (if used) from the pan. 
  7. Remove about 3/4 of the sauce to a blender and mix until smooth. Return the blended portion to the pan and stir together. (I do this so that the sauce remains a little bit chunky. If you want a totally smooth sauce just blend the entire batch of sauce. Alternatively, you don’t have to blend the sauce at all or you could use an immersion blender to get the consistency that you like.)
  8. Add water to the sauce if it is too thick. Taste for salt and adjust if necessary.
  9. About 3 minutes before serving, add the koftas to the sauce. Serve over rice or with naan. (Don’t let the koftas sit in the sauce for too long as they will become mushy and soak up all of the sauce.)   


Coconut Stuffed Baby Eggplants

Coconut Stuffed Baby Eggplants

Hello and Welcome to This Spicy Life! Thanks for stopping by – sorry that I have been absent for too long. I’m posting a recipe that I made almost a month ago. I was recently surfing around some other food blogs (for inspiration, ideas and fun) and noticed that a lot of people have posted similar recipes in the last month. I’m thinking that this must be the season for baby eggplants! Or maybe other people feel the same way and just can’t resist these beauties…

My version of Coconut Stuffed Baby Eggplant is inspired by a few recipes by different authors. Some recipes use onion, some don’t use coconut or sesame seeds. My recipe isn’t totally new, but I think that mine has more shortcuts and a few different ingredients that combines for a nice flavor. Stuffed Eggplant is a wonderful South Indian dish that goes well with rice, a simple dal and a salad. In my picture, I served it with Rasam, Toor Dal and Kale Saag.

Coconut Stuffed Baby Eggplants

Serves 4


  • 8 – 12 “baby” eggplants (small, round, purple variety)
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut (unsweetened, desiccated)
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsp cayenne or red chili powder (or to taste)
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds or peanuts
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 2 -4 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 shakes of hing (asafoetida) (optional)
  • 6 curry leaves (optional)
  1. Heat a heavy, cast iron or other skillet over medium heat. When hot add the coconut, coriander powder, cumin powder and cayenne/chili powder. Stir together and let roast until the coconut starts to get specks of brown. Remove from the pan to a blender.
  2. Heat the sesame seeds/peanuts in the same pan until lightly toasted. Remove and put in the blender. Reserve the pan for later.
  3. Add the tamarind paste, salt and 1/4 cup of water to the blender and mix. Add more water if necessary to make a thick paste for stuffing.
  4. Wash the baby eggplants well in water. The stems will be kept intact unless they aren’t in good shape (in which case, remove the stem very close to the top of the eggplant).
  5. Cut the eggplants in quarters from the bottom toward the stem, but not all the way through – stop cutting about 1/2″ from the top or the stem. 
  6. Working quickly (so the eggplant doesn’t start to turn brown), use your fingers to stuff the eggplants on all cut sides with the stuffing. This is messy, but just get as much in there as possible and then close the four pieces back together a bit to hold the stuffing. The stuffing is really for flavoring, not to fill you up, so don’t worry if it doesn’t seem like it has a lot of stuffing. Fill all of the eggplants this way and set aside. Reserve any leftover stuffing. 
  7. Heat your cast iron pan or other skillet again over medium heat. Add 2 tbsp of oil and the mustard seeds. Allow to start popping and then add the cumin seeds, hing and curry leaves (if using). Stir around.
  8. Immediately place the eggplants in the pan and turn the heat to medium low. Sprinkle the left over stuffing on top of the eggplants. Add a bit more oil to the pan if the eggplants are sticking.
  9. After a minute, carefully turn each eggplant so that it starts to brown on another side. Keep doing this every minute or so until all surfaces are browned (be careful not to burn).
  10. Place a lid on the pan and reduce the heat to low. Allow to cook for about 5 more minutes (checking after 3 minutes) until the eggplant flesh is soft and cooked through. This timing depends on the size and age of your eggplants, it could take longer if your eggplants are very large or on the older side.
  11. Serve with rice, dal and salad. 

Chole Enchiladas with Roasted Jalapeno

Chole Enchiladas with Roasted Jalapeno

Hello and welcome to This Spicy Life…

A few weeks ago I made Chole Enchiladas – a perfect fusion of Indian chickpeas curry and Latin whole wheat-corn tortillas.I thought this would be a great recipe to honor Cinco de Mayo that is coming up in a few short days.

I used a variation on my recipe for chickpeas curry posted here. You can use your own recipe or mine, just make double the recipe for the sauce so that you have sauce left over to pour over the rolled up enchiladas. The chole that I made was already spicy but made extremely spicy with the roasted jalapeno peppers added to the filling. If you want less spice, just remove the seeds and maybe use less jalapeno.

Chole Enchiladas with Roasted Jalapeno

Serves 4

  • 1 recipe chole, made with doubled sauce
  • 1 cup potato, minced
  • 6 whole wheat-corn tortillas or other tortillas (6″ – 8″, not the huge burrito size)
  • 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 lemon, cut in wedges
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare an 8″x8″ or similar baking pan by rubbing with a bit of oil. Set aside.
  2. Roast the jalapeno peppers: there are many methods to do this. I put mine over direct gas flame and kept turning until the skin was blackened. (You can oil them and place under a broiler or put them in a cast iron skillet and turn them around over high heat.) Once roasted, set aside until they are cooled. Then with the back of a knife (the dull side), scrape off most of the charred skin. Don’t rinse under water as this removes much of the flavor. Chop into bite-sized pieces. You can remove the seeds if you find them too hot. Be careful to wash your hands well after handling the jalapeno! Set these aside until step 6. 
  3. Prepare the sauce part of your recipe for chole / chickpeas curry and remove all but 1 cup of sauce and reserve until step 7.
  4. Add the minced potato to the 1 cup of tomato sauce. Allow to simmer until almost cooked through. Add a small amount of water if it becomes too dry.
  5. Add the reserved chickpeas to the potato mixture and simmer for 10 minutes, adding a bit of water as needed so it doesn’t stick. However, this should be a very dry curry at the end of the cooking time.
  6. Stir in the chopped jalapeno and 3/4 cup of chopped cilantro. Taste for salt/seasoning and set aside.
  7. To the reserved portion of the tomato sauce, add a little bit of water to make a thick gravy consistency (if necessary). Set aside.
  8. Wrap the tortillas in foil and place in the oven for a 5 minutes. They will get a little heated and more pliable. 
  9. Into an oven-proof casserole dish pour 1 cup of the reserved sauce. Spread over the bottom.
  10. Take one tortilla and spread approx. 1/2 cup of the chickpeas on the center. 
  11. Roll up and place in the casserole dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas and pack tightly together. 
  12. Pour remaining tomato sauce over the rolls – be careful to get sauce all over the tortillas (they may become dry if they aren’t sauced). 
  13. Cover with an oven-proof lid or foil. Place in the oven for 30 minutes or until heated through.
  14. Remove from the oven. Remove lid or foil. Allow to stand for 5 – 10 minutes.
  15. Serve with chopped onion, cilantro, chopped avocado and lemon wedges.