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Bhari hui sabji
(Stuffed vegetables)


Preparation and cooking time: 45 min - 1 hr

6 medium-large tomatoes, or 6 medium-small green bell peppers, or 6 medium-small eggplants
Wash and dry the tomatoes, then cut a lid off the top of each. Scoop out the pulp and force it through a strainer. Discard the seeds and save the pulp, to be used in the filling. Sprinkle some salt inside the tomato shells and turn them upside-down to drain.

Do the same with the peppers, but discard their pulp. Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise and scoop out the pulp, leaving a thick shell. Chop the eggplant pulp into tiny pieces and fry it in a small quantity of ghee or oil until it is tender. Mash it and use it in any of the fillings.
Prepare one of the fillings described below and stuff it into the hollowed vegetables. There are three recipes for fillings. Each is sufficient to stuff 6 vegetables.

FILLINGS
Rice and cheese filling:
3 tablespoon ghee
4 oz (100 g) pressed paneer crumbled
1 cup (175 g) cooked long grained white rice
1/2 cup (75 g) lightly toasted cashew nuts, crushed
1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup (150 ml) sour cream


Heat the ghee in a small saucepan over medium heat. Crumble the paneer, add it to the pan, and stir-fry it for a minute or two. Then add the cooked rice and all the other ingredients. Remove the pan from the heat, fold in the cream, and mix the ingredients well.

Coconut filling:
3/4 cup (100 g) fresh grated coconut or 3/4 cup (75 g) dry coconut
2/3 cup (150 ml) sour cream
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 cup (100 g) chick-pea flour, lightly toasted
2 oz (50 g) paneer
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon powdered cloves
1 teaspoon salt

Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and knead well to make a smooth filling.

Vegetable filling:
4 medium-sized potatoes
1 small eggplant
ghee or vegetable oil for deep-frying
2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves
2/3 cup (150 ml) plain yogurt

Boil the potatoes in their skins, then peel and mash them coarse with a fork. Peel and cube the eggplant and deep-fry the cubes until golden-brown. Then let them drain. Now mix together the vegetables, spices, herbs, and yogurt to make a thick filling.

When you stuff the tomatoes or peppers, dont forget to replace their lids. You can make a paste from a tablespoon of flour and a dash of water to help the lids stick to the top.

Arrange the stuffed tomatoes or peppers (or both together) in a greased, ovenproof dish. Add 4 tablespoons of water, cover, and bake in the oven at 300F (150C) for 15 - 20 minutes. Eggplants take about 1 hour to cook, so cook them separately.

Instead of baking stuffed vegetables, you can steam them in a saucepan. If you have a metal steam-rack, you can steam them over boiling water for 15 - 20 minutes. If you dont have a steam-rack, heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil or ghee and fry the bottom of the stuffed vegetables for 2 or 3 minutes. Then add several tablespoons of water, cover the pan tightly, and cook for 15 - 20 minutes. For either method, make sure there is enough water at all times.

Sprinkle the lemon juice and some fresh minced herbs over each serving. Serve hot with a soup and an Indian bread.