Indian Stuffed Vegetables

One of the most beautiful things about the CSA box is that it is like Christmas once a week.

You never know what will be in it, and opening it up is like peeking into a vegetal treasure chest.

For the past several weeks, we have been getting delicious baby squashes, but last week, included in the box was a trio of lovely medium-sized yellow summer squash.

And down a couple of stalls, at the Shade River Organic Farm stall where I get my lovely tomatoes, there were the first small eggplants of the season.

I knew exactly what I would have to make: Indian style stuffed vegetables.

I used to make these for my Pakistani and Bangladeshi personal chef clients all the time, and they -loved- them.

You can use the filling mixture for absolutely -any vegetable; I have used squash, eggplant, sweet bell peppers, large chile peppers, and tomatoes in the past. I am sure that folks could come up with other vegetables to use this treatment on–just about any veggie that can be hollowed out and stuffed would work.

I use lamb in this recipe, but it is not necessary. You can leave it out entirely, and just use a little more vegetables: what I would do is roughly chop up a squash or two to take the place of the meat, and maybe at the end of the sauteing process, add some fresh or frozen green peas.

I always serve these stuffed veggies with a moist dish to go on top: my two favorites are cucumber-tomato raita with mint, cumin, salt and sometimes cilantro, and an uncooked mango chutney with chiles, sweet red peppers, cumin, red onion, garlic and cilantro. This time around, as you will be able to see in the photograph below, I made the raita, taking advantage of the fresh cucumbers and tomatoes at the market. (But, now that I think of it–I bet green chutney, otherwise known around here simply as “Green,” would be really wonderful, too.)

While my mother’s favorite version of this dish is sweet red or yellow bell peppers stuffed with this mixture (I chopped up a squash to go in the stuffing as the peppers have no edible innards to go in the stuffing) with mango chutney, I prefer the squash and eggplant variation showcased here, with the raita. I think that the flavors are more subtle and savory than the very sweet peppers with the sweet, hot and sour chutney.

In order to make this recipe, you need to make some of my keema sookh (leaving out the potatoes and green beans); however, if you are only doing one eggplant and one squash, you only need to use about 1/3 of a pound of meat mixture in it. This means several things–you can either scale down the keema sookh recipe, or use the stuffed vegetables idea as a way to use up leftover keema sookh and turmeric-tinted basmati rice.

I usually take the latter course, which is how I came up with this dish in the first place for my clients. It was a way to use up leftovers they had in their fridge to make a completely new and tastier dish–and they loved it.

Anyway, here is the recipe–I hope you will try it out, or something like it, to take advantage of all the beautiful produce that is coming out in the farmer’s markets this summer.

Indian Stuffed Vegetables

Ingredients:

1/3 of a recipe of keema sookh, minus the potatoes and green beans
1 cup basmati rice, rinsed thoroughly
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 squash–zucchini or yellow summer squash
1 medium eggplant
3 tablespoons canola or peanut oil or butter
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon garam masala
salt to taste
handful of fresh mint leaves, minced

Method:

If the keema sookh is freshly made, set it aside to cool.

In a rice cooker, mix together rice, water and turmeric, and following manufacturer’s directions, cook the rice. When it is done, open rice cooker, fluff rice, and turn off warmer. Allow it to cool to room temperature.

Slice vegetables in half lengthwise. To get vegetables to sit flat, before hollowing them out, cut a thin slice off the bottoms of the halves. Using a melon baller, a spoon or a lemon zester, scoop out the interior of both vegetables, leaving a shell about 1/4″ thick all around. Save the interior bits, and then when all the halves are hollowed, roughly chop the vegetable innards.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat oil or butter in a saute pan on the stove on medium heat. Fry onions, stirring, until they are medium reddish brown. Add garlic and vegetable bits, and stir, cooking, until the squash and eggplant wilt and become transleuscent and wilt. Add the keema sookh and the rice, and stir and fry until all is well combined and fragrant. Season with garam masala and salt to taste.

Place hollowed out vegetable “boats” in a baking pan that will accommodate them all easily. Pour about 1/4″ of water in the bottom of the pan–do not let it come up to the opening of the “boats”–but you do want the bottom of the pan fully covered with water. Spoon filling carefully into the veggies, mounding decoratively and packing it lightly. Do not worry if you lose little dabs of filling into the water in the pan–it won’t burn or anything.

Cover tightly with foil and place in oven. Allow to bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and steamed through.

Garnish with a sprinkling of chopped mint leaves, and serve with raita or mango chutney to go over. Serves four as a main course, or eight if it is served with a lot of other Indian dishes, as shown here.

11 Comments

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  1. Hi Barbara,
    Love to see your enthusiasm for Indian food ! I made a stuffed bittergourd last week, yet to post that one though.
    Looking forward to the HOT round up
    Cheers
    N

    Comment by nandita — July 13, 2006 #

  2. wow! I too have done (veggie version )all stuffed,bittergourd, all coloured bell peppers.your liking for indian recipes is really amazing.I miss your fourth theme.I am on vacation to India.
    I am too tired to giv my entry.I would have given my entry: dried curd chillies.
    Hi Barbara,when is your due date and it’s girl orboy ?

    Comment by Ramya — July 13, 2006 #

  3. Greetings, Nandita! Mmm. Bittergourd. I cannot eat that one until the baby is born–I read not long ago that it causes uterine contractions. Sigh. I will miss the season for them here! But, after I am all healed up after delivering the little girl, I will have to stir fry some up with fermented black beans. (I like them cooked Indian style, but Zak and Morganna both prefer them only cooked Cantonese style with the black beans, ginger, garlic and onions–majority rules on this issue.)

    So far, we have some good entries lined up for “Its Too Darned Hot!”

    Ramya–I hope your vacation is going well! I’ll look for an entry from you the next time, after you come back, okay? The baby is fine, as am I–she is a she–(and is a very active, kicky little girl at that) and her name is Katherine Artemesia. (Points to anyone who can tell me about the second name….I am just curious to see what folks know about it!)

    We call her Kat, though. ;-)

    Comment by Barbara — July 13, 2006 #

  4. Beautiful name !I think that your would be girl baby’s second name refers to one of the Italian’s first
    female painter.or name of herbal plant
    Advance wishes for happy delivery.

    Comment by Ramya — July 13, 2006 #

  5. Artemesia being the latin name for Wormwood, correct?

    Comment by Robbin — July 13, 2006 #

  6. [...] Indian StuffedVegetablesI knew exactly what I would have to make: Indian style stuffedvegetables.…I am sure that folks could come up with othervegetablesto use this…You can leave it out entirely, and just use a little morevegetables: what I would… [...]

    Pingback by Asparagus Forum » Blog Archive » How do you clean fruit andvegetables? — July 16, 2006 #

  7. Help! I cannot find a place to logout on this site and I can’t get my info off of it ! Help!!!

    Comment by Val — July 22, 2006 #

  8. Val–I am sorry I didn’t answer your question the first time, but, I was on my way out the door to come home from our trip to DC, and I had to pack up the laptop.

    Your information, when you log in to leave a comment, is -never- publicly shown. It is logged on my server, but it is never shown to the public.

    So.

    The deal is this–you don’t -need- to log out, because the only reason your IP and email address are logged are to keep down the comment spam. Have no fear, no one is harvesting your email address or anything else of that sort from my site.

    Comment by Barbara — July 23, 2006 #

  9. Ramiya and Robbin–you are both correct.

    Artemesia is -both- the name of the Italian late Rennaisance female painter, Artemesia Gentilesce (I hope I spelled the last name correctly), -and- the Latin name of the wormwood herb. The Latin name is also from the Greek Artemis–the Goddess of the Moon, the hunt and protectress of young women and animals and wild places.

    And we chose that name with all three of those meanings and understandings in mind….

    Comment by Barbara — July 24, 2006 #

  10. [...] India, eggplant can be stuffed and baked, stuffed and simmered, fried, roasted and mashed, and, of course, cooked into a myriad of curries, [...]

    Pingback by Tigers & Strawberries » Hyderabadi Bagara Baigan: Eggplant Curry In a Peanut Sauce — September 19, 2011 #

  11. I fully agree completely!!!

    Comment by seo tutorial — December 12, 2011 #

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