Monday, October 15, 2012

Raita (Yogurt Sauce)

Makes 1 cup

The raita is best made with whole-milk yogurt.  I use the Brown Cow brand with a cream top, and I scoop off most of the cream and use it in the sauce.


1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, minced
2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced (fresh mint can be substituted)
1 medium garlic clove, minced (or pressed through garlic press, about 1 teaspoon)
kosher salt - to taste

Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl.  Season with salt to taste, and set aside for 15 minutes to let the flavors meld.  The sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 day (re-season before serving if needed).

Note:  This sauce goes nicely with the Tandoori Lamb and Hot and Sour Eggplant recipes.

Hot and Sour Chinese Eggplant

Makes 4 servings

This dish requires a little extra planning, as the eggplant needs to be salted (a process that takes about an hour and a half) to take away any bitterness, but the recipe is super easy to make.  And, the advance preparation makes it an ideal "make-ahead" dish, as the eggplant can be prepared hours in advance and then cooked quickly just before it is needed.  This recipe is absolutely delicious and is a versatile side dish that could easily pair with variety of ethnic menus!


2 medium-size eggplants (about 2 lbs)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoon white sugar
1 medium (or 2 very small) jalapeno pepper, chopped
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon sesame oil
½ tsp sriracha (to taste)
1 teaspoon salt, (plus extra for salting eggplant in Step 1)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil


1. Cut off and discard stem and bottom end of each eggplant and peel with a vegetable peeler. Cut into 1-inch cubes. Place the eggplant a large colander over a bowl, and sprinkle generously with salt (~2-3 tablespoons). Toss to coat all the pieces. Let eggplant stand for at least 1½ hours (preferably for 2 to 3 hours), stirring it a couple of times.

2. Rinse the eggplant under cold, running water, rubbing the pieces lightly in your hands. Shake colander to drain, and then using your palms, press the eggplant in the colander firmly to squeeze out any excess water! (At this point, the eggplant can be refrigerated up to 3 hours before cooking.)

3. In a small jar , add the soy sauce, red wine vinegar, sugar, jalapeno pepper, cornstarch sesame oil, and sriracha. Put the lid on the jar and shake to combine.

4. In a heavy-bottomed 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium high heat until it shimmers. Fry the eggplant until it is tender and begins to brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Pour in the sauce, and cook for another minute or two, until the sauce is thick and the eggplant is evenly coated. Adjust seasonings and serve immediately!

Note: This side dish is excellent when paired with steamed rice. It also goes well with the Tandoori Lamb recipe!

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