It was the Victoria Day long weekend in Canada and unfortunately I spent the better part of the weekend sick…and not just pregnancy sick. Sick sick. The worst kind of sick on a super hot long weekend when you’re pregnant and really just want an Advil! Loaded with my essential oils, Manuka honey, and lemon, I battled it out most of the weekend, but unfortunately succumbed to an icky sick induced sleep for the better part of the holiday Monday. Yep, so for the first long weekend of the summer here in Canada, I slept.
Mind you I did feel better when I woke up and I finally had an appetite after not being able to eat much for the past 24 hours. And what better way to celebrate feeling slightly better, a sunny day, and Queen Victoria than an Indian barbecue?!
Actually, Indian food is a perfect way to pay tribute to Queen Victoria. Did you know that one of her closest friends was an Indian Muslim teacher “gifted” to her? While Abdul Karim started off as a personal servant, he grew close to the queen and taught her the Urdu language. He also taught her about Indian food and it is said that she began to enjoy eating curry at lunch!
So for our Victoria Day Indian meal fit for a queen, I decided to make one of my favourite combinations a flatbread (roti or naan), eggplant, okra, and yogurt. For some reason, I feel like an eggplant curry needs to be next to an okra curry. It’s a combination I absolutely love, but it also requires me to be in front of a stove for longer than I want on a hot day! This was the reason for me deciding to barbecue everything (something I enjoy doing at least one meal per week, anyway!).
For the eggplant, I decided to try out an Indian stuffed eggplant recipe I had never made, but often enjoyed when my mother or mother-in-law had made it. It’s a delicious dish made with small Indian eggplants and stuffed with a flavourful masala paste. Lucky for me, my talented sister-in-law had already perfected the recipe (none of the typical “a bit of this and that” from an Indian mom) and had written all about it on the plant-based food blog that she founded with a good friend, The Two Kitchens! I stuck with her ingredients for the most part, adding a bit more onion, leaving out the cinnamon, and adding extra cumin. I followed her instructions for making the filling, stuffing them, then placed them in an oil-rubbed cast iron pan on a 550 degree barbecue. Check out The Two Kitchens to find the eggplant recipe and all sorts of other amazing plant-based dishes!
For the okra (recipe below), I went with a traditional bhindi – a dish that my mother has made me probably a million times and one that I also make often. However, instead of cooking it all in a pan on a stovetop, I cooked it all in a grill pan, minus a paste of spices, mustard seeds, and tomato paste. When the okra was finished, I tosses it in the paste to complete the bhindi.
I paired all of this with some yogurt and store-bought naan that I heated up on the grill. This made for an easy, relaxing, and satisfying Indian meal that I’m sure I’ll make again!
300 g okra, washed, trimmed, and chopped
1 medium onion, sliced
2 Roma tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 tbsp of oil
For the paste:
1 tbsp of oil
1.5 tsp black mustard seeds (rai)
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 (heaping) tsp turmeric (haldi) powder
1/4 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp garam masala
Pinch of asafoetida (hing) powder
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp water
For the okra:
- Place sliced onions, chopped okra, and tomato wedges in grill basket. Toss with the oil. Place on a 500 degree barbecue and close lid.
- Carefully toss the mixture every 5 minutes until the okra mixture is cooked through and the onions and okra have gotten charred around the edges, about 15-20 minutes.
For the masala paste:
- While the okra mixture is cooking*, heat some oil and black mustard seeds in a pan on a medium/medium-high stove top. Cover and allow the seeds to pop, but not burn.
- Once the seeds have popped, add all the spices and allow to heat through for about 1 minute.
- Add the tomato paste and mix into spices. Add water and mix.
- Take the paste off the burner and cover until ready to use.
To complete the bhindi:
- Combine cooked okra mixture and the masala paste in bowl. Taste and adjust salt as needed.
- Enjoy alongside naan or roti.
*Never leave your barbecue unattended. This step can be done ahead of time if there is no one to supervise your barbecue while you do step #2.
What’s your favourite thing to barbecue?