Eggplant-Spinach Curry Formula

Times Staff Writer

Dear SOS: The Indian restaurant Dhaba Cuisine of India in Santa Monica has a delicious eggplant/spinach side dish. It seems to be a simple dish, but I have not been able to duplicate the flavor at home. Could you obtain the recipe?


Dear K.A.M.: The chef prepares a curry mixture that would, indeed, be difficult to duplicate without knowing the formula. Here it is from Margaret Patel, the owner of Dhaba Cuisine of India.


1/4 cup oil

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

12 cloves garlic, minced

2 pounds spinach, rinsed, dried and finely chopped

1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1-inch piece ginger root, peeled and grated

1/4 teaspoon jalapeno chiles, minced

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped


Cilantro sprigs

Heat oil with half of mustard seeds in large saucepan. Add remaining mustard seeds when cooked seeds pop in pan. Add garlic and saute until tender.

Add spinach, a little at a time, stirring occasionally to keep spinach from scorching. When spinach wilts, add eggplant, ginger, jalapeno chiles, turmeric, paprika, coriander and cumin. Saute until flavors blend. Cover and cook over medium-low heat 15 minutes. Add tomatoes and season to taste with salt. Cook, uncovered, 5 minutes longer. Garnish with cilantro. Makes 8 servings.

Dear SOS: Please help me find and make the recipe for Baklava. I realize filo is not in all markets, but I would appreciate some information you may have about it.

--MRS. H.P.M.

Dear Mrs. H.P.M.: Many supermarkets now carry filo as do Middle Eastern, Italian and other ethnic grocery stores. Most filo is sold frozen, boxed in long 1-pound rolls, which when unwrapped yield about 15 to 20 paper-thin sheets of filo. (The number of sheets depends on the manufacturer.)

But if you can find fresh filo, all the better. The soft, fresh leaves of dough will be far easier to work with. Don't be afraid to work with fragile filo. It's far more durable than you might think. Tears can be easily patched, the sheets can be layered, rolled, twisted, shaped or cut as you would paper.

Try experimenting with a few sheets to get the hang of handling the dough. Once you've learned to keep the sheets of dough from drying by covering them with damp-dry cloth or plastic when not in use, and moistening the sheets with melted or clarified butter, margarine or oil during use, you are on your way.

Filo is a streamlined substitute for pastry dough used to cover sweet and savory pie, pastry and strudel fillings, as well as this novel nut-layered pastry from the Middle Eastern cuisine. BAKLAVA

2 pounds filo pastry sheets

2 cups unsalted butter, melted or clarified

1 1/2 pounds walnuts or pistachios, finely chopped


Butter baking pan which fits pastry sheets and is at least 2 inches deep. Stack 4 sheets dough in bottom of pan, brushing each sheet with melted butter. Spread with some of nuts.

Repeat, buttering sheets, spreading some of nuts between every four sheets. Continue layering sheets and nuts, leaving 6 or 7 sheets for top layer and brushing each sheet with butter. Brush top sheet generously with butter.

Cut pastry in pan diagonally to make 1-inch diamond-shaped pastries. Do not remove from pan. Bake at 300 degrees 1 hour or until lightly browned. Do not overbrown. Pour cooled Sugar-Syrup over hot pastry or hot syrup over cooled pastry. Makes 20 servings. Sugar-Syrup

2 cups sugar

1 cup water

1 tablespoon orange flower water, optional

Combine sugar and water in saucepan. Cook until thread spins. Add orange flower water and cool before serving.

Dear SOS: Please try to obtain a recipe for clam sauce from The Old Spaghetti Factory in Seattle.


Dear Marlene: We did with success. The sauce, of course, can be added to any kind of cooked pasta. About 1 to 1 1/2 pounds pasta will be enough for the amount of sauce given. THE OLD SPAGHETTI FACTORY CLAM SAUCE

6 tablespoons butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 medium onion, chopped

3 celery stalks, peeled and finely chopped

3 tablespoons flour

2 (6 1/2-ounce) cans chopped clams

1 quart half and half

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground thyme

1 teaspoon salt

Melt butter and add garlic, onion and celery. Saute over medium-low heat until vegetables are tender, but not brown. Stir in flour until smooth and golden.

In another saucepan, combine drained clam liquid, half and half, pepper, thyme and salt. Heat until just below boiling point (about 185 degrees on candy thermometer). Add half and half mixture and clam meats. Stir into onion mixture and cook until smooth and thickened. Makes 6 cups sauce.

Dear Readers: The Frosting recipe was omitted in the Turtle Cake recipe that appeared in the March 20 issue. The entire recipe follows. TURTLE CAKE

1 (1-pound 2 1/2-ounce) package German chocolate cake mix

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup oil

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

Chopped pecans

1 (1-pound) package caramels


Combine chocolate cake mix, butter, water, oil and half of condensed milk in mixing bowl. Mix well. Pour half of batter into greased and floured 13x9-inch baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees 20 to 25 minutes.

Melt and mix together caramels and remaining condensed milk over low heat until smooth. Spread over baked cake layer. Sprinkle generously with chopped pecans. Cover with remaining cake batter. Return to oven and bake 25 to 35 minutes longer or until cake tests done. Cool. Spread with Frosting.

Note: Since the cake is very sweet, cut into small servings. Frosting

1/2 cup butter or margarine

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

6 tablespoons evaporated milk

1 (1-pound) package powdered sugar, sifted

1 tablespoon vanilla

Combine butter, cocoa and evaporated milk in small saucepan. Melt over low heat. Remove from heat and beat in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Spread immediately.

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