December 16, 2009

Bhrelu shak (stuffed Gujarati vegetables)

Bhrelu shak is a dish of stuffed Gujarati vegetables. These are delicious roasted in a cast iron pan to mimic a hot tava, or they can also be prepared in a microwave or oven. I will provide all cooking options below. This dish is known to be oily, but this recipe uses less oil. Stuffing vegetables should be small potatoes, baby eggplants, and baby squashes if available. Avoid cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower or broccoli.

Ingredients for stuffing:
1 cup gram flour
1/4 cup ground coriander
1/4 cup cumin
1 T garam masala
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
2 T ginger, chopped fine
1 chili, seeded and deveined, and chopped
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, washed and chopped
1 tsp salt
2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp citric acid (lemon juice will make it mushy) you can omit if you don't have.
2 T vegetable oil plus extra for roasting

Directions to prepare stuffing:
  1. Combine all of the stuffing ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Mix together well. Adjust seasoning if needed.
  2. Gram flour can be available at South Asian grocery stores, or substitute garbanzo bean flour (chickpea flour) from a health foods store.

Ingredients for vegetables:
1 cup red new potatoes, scrubbed and scored
8-10 baby eggplants, washed and scored
5-6 baby squashes or 1-2 large squashes
1 sweet potato

  1. For the baby or small vegetables, score them along one side, and score along the opposite side, so you can stuff the insides with the gram flour mixture.
  2. If using regular sized vegetables, just cut them and coat them with the mixture.

Directions for cooking:

Cast iron or tava method:
  1. Pour about 1-2 T of vegetable oil in a cast iron pan, and heat over medium heat.
  2. Place the stuffed vegetables in a single layer and cook 2-3 minutes per side, until the vegetables are cooked and golden.
  3. As they are cooking, add 1-2 tsp of water to the pan so the vegetables don't dry out. You can also add in a little oil as well. It is important to cook the vegetables in a single layer, so they cook evenly.
  4. Continue rotating the vegetables to ensure that they get roasted and cooked. This method should take between 25-30 minutes.
Microwave method:
  1. Place vegetables in a shallow microwave oven safe dish that has 1-2 T of oil and about 1/2 cup water placed in the bottom of the pan. Place the cover on the dish.
  2. Microwave on regular power setting for 2-3 minutes and rotate the vegetables after each cooking cycle.
  3. Cook this way for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked thoroughly.
Method for oven:
  1. Heat oven to 375 F.
  2. Coat baking or roasting pan with liberal amounts of oil (1-2 T) and arrange vegetables in a single layer.
  3. Cover the pan with foil to help roasting, and check the vegetables often, about 5-10 minutes. Rotate the vegetables for even cooking and continue to sprinkle oil and water to the cooking dish to help add moisture during the cooking process.
  4. Cooking time will be about 35 minutes.

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