One of my favorite Indian restaurants is Hampton Chutney Co., Upper West Side location. Their dosas are excellent, especially with the vegetarian masala filling and mango chutney. As you can imagine, I was delighted when the owners Gary and Isabel MacGurn decided to share a recipe that they make at home with Creative Delites. The recipe is for Punjabi Shrimp– a spicy, richly flavored dish, inspired by the tomato based sauces of northern India. In trying out the recipe I took Gary’s suggestion for making a vegetarian version, substituting eggplant (or you could use tofu) for the shrimp. Dosas and uttapas are the restaurant’s specialties, but if you would like to make Indian food at home and try out some of the classic spices, like turmeric and cumin, Punjabi is a great introduction.
Punjabi Eggplant Recipe
Makes: 4 servings
Courtesy of Gary & Isabel MacGurn, Hampton Chutney Co.
1 large eggplant
Salt to taste
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
3 tablespoons veggie oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
4 fresh curry leaves
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
½ jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped cilantro
1. Season the eggplant with salt. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add the eggplant and cook over moderately high heat until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Transfer the eggplant to a plate.
2. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet and reduce the heat to moderate.
3. Add the turmeric, cumin, and coriander and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
4. Stir in the curry leaves and cook for 30 seconds longer.
5. Add the onion, ginger, jalapeno, and garlic and cook until the onion softens, about 5 minutes; if the mixture seems dry; add up to ¼ cup of water to prevent sticking.
6. Add the tomatoes and the tomato paste and cook until the sauce thickens, about 3 minutes.
7. Return the eggplant to the skillet and cook, stirring, until they are opaque throughout, about 2 minutes. Season with salt.
8. Transfer the eggplant to a bowl, sprinkle with cilantro and serve.
In the winter time, there is nothing like piping hot, flaky naan fresh from a tandoor oven. David and I are fortunate enough that we will be able to learn how to make naan and lots of other classic Indian vegetarian dishes– from an expert. My siblings bought us a two-hour private cooking class that we are taking January 30 (so stay tuned for our homemade naan). Until then, I’m trying out various store-bought brands to see which flavors and textures I like best. See the verdict. The rating goes 1 to 10 (10 being the best).
365 Everyday Value Whole Wheat Naan
Appearance: The bread is flat and shaped like an oval. The fluffy, well-browned bubbles give the bread a handmade appearance.
Texture: Light but not as flaky as freshly baked restaurant naan. The flatbread is thicker and more dense than it appears.
Flavor: A bit bland. There is just a faint sweetness. Also comes in original (plain) and garlic.
Health: 260 calories and 7 grams of fat per flatbread. The whole wheat flavor is definitely your best bet in terms of nutrition. It’s tempting to eat more than one since the bread is so light. The challenge is eating just one serving.
Cost: $ 3.49 for the package of 4 flatbreads.
Recommendation: You can eat naan with any food, Indian or not. In fact, most of the time I like to use the naan to make pizzas on the grill.
Resolution Stats: 21 new food stuffs tried, 84 more to go.
Final Verdict: If you are looking for authentic, flaky naan, try making your own or buying it from your favorite Indian restaurant. Sometimes you can buy pizza dough from a pizzeria, so see if you can also get naan dough. If you buy the store-bought stuff, I suggest getting the plain or whole wheat flavors, grilling it first, and then adding your own garlic or onion topping.
There are a number of terrific Indian restaurants in NYC, but when I’m in the mood for a light, healthy, inexpensive Indian snack– I always head to Hampton Chutney West Side (464 Amsterdam Ave.) for their addictive dosas and fresh chutneys. I also love that the restaurant posts their nutritional info– only 189 calories and 3 grams of fat per dosa.
I recommend the spiced potato masala dosa ($7.95) with the mango chutney. If you’re not a fan of spicy Indian food, there are plenty of other nontraditional fillings, including roasted tomato, arugula, with jack cheese and grilled portobello mushroom, spinach and roasted onions, with goat cheese.
The dosas taste like delicate, flaky sourdough crepes. The dough is made with rice-and-lentil flour and baked until crisp.
Paper-thin and quite long– about the length of a large sub
Tasty vegetarian, spiced potato and onion filling
Freshly made mango chutney