Since I moved to Singapore in October 2014, I had the luxury to expand my cultural and social perspectives on the World through the amazing people I was fortunate to encounter during my life journey here in Asia. Most of these amazing folks are locals, but also many foreigners, often coming from every corner of the planet.
Whenever I speak to them, especially to my foreigner friends, I am always overwhelmed by their enthusiasm and positive vibes about them living in Singapore. Why is that so? Obviously there is no one-size-fits-all answer - but here’s my take. As I said in one of my previous articles I personally feel that the most charming side of this extraordinary country lies in its perfect combination of traditions and modernity.
When it comes to food for example, as I as always say, Singapore is Heaven!
From the city's hawker centers to Michelin-starred restaurants, there is no place on Earth that can get any closer to The Lion City. That’s what Wikipedia says about it:
In Singapore, food is viewed as crucial to national identity and a unifying cultural thread
What is the the most popular cuisine over here? I’d say that Chinese food and Indian food are definitely a “top pick”. Yes, Indian Cuisine is really highly regarded over here, especially among western folks, whom all seem to enjoy that magical fusion of Subcontinental spices.
Now, as I shared in my previous articles, I have to admit that I am a bit of a nutrition nerd. I love reading and digging through the scientific articles for the sheer fascination of how human bodies work, and to understand how nutrition plays a role.
Since I love Indian food so much, I decided I reached out to Bonani Hazarika, a professional food stylist and recipe creator from India, to ask her views about healthy Indian food making. She loves giving healthy twists to traditional Indian recipes without diminishing the authentic taste and flavour of dishes - and that’s why I thought that she was the perfect individual to reach out to.
Here’s what she shared.
First of all, what is Baigan Bharta?
Baigan Bharta is a simple yet flavorful Indian dish. In a way, it tastes like the western Baba Ganoush when Tahini and Olive oil are not added. Olive oil is not given much preference when it comes to Indian food. There is a common (mis)belief among Indians that olive oil has a strong pungent smell that gets incorporated into the dishes. Moreover, Indians are a fan of fried food. They love deep frying their vegetables coated with gram flour and then savoring them with a coriander chutney.
Why Indians do not really have extra virgin olive oil on the top of their preferences is because it was believed that olive oil loses its health benefits at high temperatures. And since Indian cooking involves a lot of high temperature cooking, olive oil was considered unsuitable.
But there has been a significant change in thinking over the past couple of years. People have started embarking on the healthy food trend and have started incorporating healthy extra virgin olive oil in their diets to enjoy benefits such as extra virgin olive oil omega 3. There have been significant research developments in this domain, and many studies have brought evidences that extra virgin olive oil does not lose its health benefits at high temperatures due to high antioxidants content. In other words, extra virgin olive oil is resistant to changes under high temperatures. Hence, it is safe to cook Indian dishes using extra virgin olive oil.
The Art of Homemaking: How to Make a Delicious yet Healthy Baigan Bharta?
Baigan Bharta is a dish that comprises of fire roasted eggplant that is mashed with spices. Across the country, people prepare this dish in different ways. The spices and the way the eggplant is roasted varies from region to region across the country. And the marriage between this flavourful recipe with healthy olive oil is a match made in heaven!
Average Cooking Time: 20-30 minutes Serves: 2 Ingredients
Eggplant - 1 medium, around 550 grams
Garlic - 5-6 cloves
Green Chillies - 1-2, or as per taste
Cumin Seeds - 1 teaspoon
Asafoetida - ½ teaspoon
Onions - 1 large, chopped
Tomatoes - 1 large, chopped
Turmeric Powder - 1 teaspoon
Red Chilli Powder - 1 teaspoon
Coriander Powder - 2 teaspoons
Cumin Powder - 1 teaspoon
Garam Masala - ½ teaspoon
Salt - 1 teaspoon, or as per taste
Coriander leaves - 1 tablespoon, chopped
Clean the eggplant properly and pat dry.
Brush the eggplant with some extra virgin olive oil.
Make two slits on the opposite sides of the eggplant. Insert the garlic cloves and the green chillies into the slits.
Put the eggplant on direct heat and roast for 10-15 minutes, turning it every 2-3 minutes on each side until completely roasted.
Once roasted, let the eggplant cool down. Put eggplant into a bowl of water and remove the charred skin.
Next, mash the eggplant with the help of a fork or by hand. Mash the garlic and the green chillies inserted inside the eggplant too.
In a pan, add extra virgin olive oil. Once the oil gets heated, add cumin seeds and asafoetida. Let the cumin seeds crackle.
Add chopped onion and sauté them until they are golden brown.
Next, add the chopped tomatoes and sauté until they are cooked.
Add the spices - turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, garam masala, and salt. Mix properly and cook the spices.
Add the mashed eggplant into the onion tomato spice mix and sauté.
Serve hot garnished with fresh chopped coriander leaves.
To know whether the eggplant’s been completely roasted, insert a clean knife into the eggplant and see if its goes through easily.