Sweet & Spicy Eggplant Parmesan for Two

Sweet & Spicy Eggplant Parmesan

Sweet & Spicy Eggplant Parmesan

My better half had just returned from three days of driving across and around two states. I knew she would be tired and not in the mood to eat much at all. Sitting in a car all day will do that to a person. Fortunately, I had a spare eggplant and some noodles so I knew, with a little help from some spices, I could create a nice dinner she could not refuse. And it only took about 30 minutes to prep and cook!

Sweet and Spicy Eggplant Parmesan for Two

Prep: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and start heating a large stock pot of salted water for the pasta.


1 large eggplant, sliced crosswise, between a quarter and a half inch in thickness

Olive oil, you will need a good bit of this. Just keep the bottle handy.

8 oz. angel hair pasta (capellini)

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon lime juice

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves


Tip: to keep the eggplant slices from sticking to the baking sheet and casserole dish, you may want to apply a light coat of cooking spray first.

Place the eggplant slices on a baking sheet in a single layer. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush a little olive oil onto each slice.

Turn the slices over and brush olive oil onto the eggplant, just as before. Place eggplant slices (still on the baking sheet, silly) into the preheated oven. Bake for 10 minutes or until the top of the eggplant slices start to brown.

By now your pasta water should be boiling. Add the angel hair pasta, stir once with a wooden spoon, and let cook.

Once the eggplant has browned on top, using an oven mitt (hot oven, remember?) and a metal spatula, flip the eggplant slices, then bake for another 10 minutes.

Time for the sauce!

In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, lime juice, sugar, cayenne pepper, cumin, and sea salt. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.

When the eggplant has finished baking, remove from the oven BUT DO NOT TURN OFF THE OVEN.

Layer the eggplant slices in a 9×13 casserole dish, offsetting the slices slightly. Drizzle the sauce over the eggplant. Bake in the oven one more time, for 10 minutes.

Your pasta should be done by now. Drain in a colander, then return the cooked pasta to the pan and cover.

Tip: to help keep the noodles from sticking together, gently stir in a tablespoon or two of butter.

Putting It All Together

Begin by creating a nice bed of cooked pasta in the center of your dinner plate.

Place 4 or 5 eggplant slices on top of the pasta.

Sprinkle a few chopped mint leaves on top of the eggplant.’

Finish by sprinkling grated Parmesan cheese over everything.

Kripyā bhojan kā ānnaṅd lijīyai! (enjoy the meal!)

DJ’s Vindaloo Ragout

DJ's Vindaloo Ragout

DJ’s Vindaloo Ragout

The flavor knocks your socks off when you first cook it. The next day? Hold on to your skivvies!

This dish is a slow-cooked stew of chickpeas and potatoes, simmered for hours in a well-seasoned tomato sauce. You could make this dish using a crock pot or a stove top sauce pan; either works well as long as you have the lid or cover. You can make the vindaloo as spicy as you want, but don’t make it any less.  In India, they have two other versions much “hotter” than this. So we can’t really complain, can we? Besides, if you need a little zippity in your do-dah, this will do it for you!

Time required:  prep 15 minutes &  cooking 2 hours or more depending on size of diced potatoes and cooking temperature

Serves: 10 or so when accompanied with rice as a side dish. Naan or flatbread works well, too!

Ingredients- Part 1:

(1) 14 oz. can diced tomatoes with green chilies

(1) 6 oz. can tomato paste

(1) green bell pepper, cored and diced

(1/2) yellow onion, diced

(4) cloves garlic, minced

(1/2) cup water

(2) Tablespoons Sherry vinegar

(2) Tablespoons olive oil

(1) Tablespoon parsley flakes

(1) Tablespoon finely chopped, fresh ginger (if you don’t have fresh ginger, go get some. There is no subbing on this one!)

(1) Tablespoon crushed red pepper

(1) teaspoon curry

(1/2) teaspoon turmeric

(1/4) teaspoon cardamom

(1/4) teaspoon coriander

Ingredients – Part 2:

(2) cups cooked chickpeas

(2) cups diced raw potatoes

(1) cup water

(1/2) cup pineapple chunks. You know – chunks. Not too small, but not too big? Fits on your fork, and in your mouth for one bite? Yeah, that’s the size you want.


Mix the ‘part 1 ingredients’ in a large sauce pan for the stove top method, or slow-cooker / crock pot.

Using medium heat, warm the sauce, stirring frequently to prevent scorching on the bottom of the pan. Note: if using a slow-cooker, just stir to mix the ingredients, then set on low heat and leave it alone.

For stove top pans, when the sauce starts to bubble, reduce heat to low.

Now add the ‘part 2 ingredients’ and gently stir until the potatoes and chickpeas are covered by the sauce.

Cover and simmer on low heat for 2 hours using the stove top method, or 4 hours on low heat if using a slow-cooker.

Stir occasionally for both methods.

<tick tock tick tock – 2 or 4 hours later >

The Vindaloo Ragout is done!

Serve with white rice, couscous, or quinoa. Some sauteed fresh green beans, seasoned with garlic of course, makes the meal complete.

Except the wine. You need wine. Lemonade works, too. I prefer, well, you know.










Mango Lentil Dal

Mango Lentil Dal

Mango Lentil Dal

Tried a new recipe tonight for Mango Lentil Dal. This turned out very well. The only change I might consider for the next time is to sub curry for the turmeric. But that’s only because I love curry. And I might add a little coconut milk. And some slice pineapple chunks. But other than that – this recipe is great!

No, really. It is very good. I was just thinking out loud.

Giving credit where credit is due, this recipe comes from the tome Eat to Live Cookbook, by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. It’s on page 172. Naturally, due to copyright issues I cannot legally (or ethically should I) post the actual recipe. It’s a great book. You should buy a copy. You don’t have to go on his diet / health plan, just try the recipes. We have yet to find one that wasn’t great tasting.

What I can do is give you a list of ingredients:


Water (to cook the cup of lentils in, of course)


Chopped onion

Minced garlic

Fresh grated ginger

Ground coriander

Ground cumin

Cracked black pepper

A couple of ripe mangoes (learn how to peel and cut a mango here)

Chopped fresh spinach

and last but not least:

Chopped fresh cilantro.

I suppose you could try to cook this yourself, without the book, and just using quantities “to taste.” However, I highly recommend buying the book.

And no, I receive no remuneration (of any kind) from Dr. Fuhrman or anyone else for that matter. I could only hope…

Live the exotic life for a day – try Mango Lentil Dal!




Review: Saffron Indian Bistro – Virginia Beach VA


Virginia Beach, Virginia is a nice little beach town that features the typical array of seafood restaurants, most of which offer fried shrimp, fried fish, fried oysters, fried scallops, fried clams and, well, anything else that can be breaded and put into a vat of 350 degree vegetable oil. If the restaurant isn’t a seafood-specific venue, then it is probably one of the standard chain restaurants that seem to inhabit every town in America. And this is exactly why finding a place such as Saffron Indian Bistro is so refreshing.

"Some" of the great food at Saffron Indian Bistro.

Saffron is not a chain, though it is surrounded by the likes of Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and P.F. Chang’s China Bistro (all very nice, in their own way.) As far as I can tell, this is the only Saffron.  Located in the edging-towards-upscale Virginia Beach TownCenter area, Saffron is on the fringe of the development. You won’t see it unless you look for it. Maybe that’s a good thing?

The decor is modern Indian, with vibrant colors and has well thought-out table placement, meaning it is not too crowded. I don’t mind neighbors while eating, but when I have to help pass a bread basket to another table, I think we have gone a bit too far. Saffron does not have this problem.

The food, now this is where the excitement comes in. Big flavor and big quantity. When we ordered our appetizer and entrees, we were given several options as to how spicy we wanted our food. One wanted mild, I opted for medium spicy while another asked for “hot.” When he picked what we thought was the spiciest level, the server then asked if he wanted “hot spicy or Indian hot spicy?” No one can decline the double dog dare, and this was clearly an unspoken one. “Indian hot spicy, please,” it was.

The food arrived, very well presented. We were also given several small bowls of curry sauce to use at our leisure. To sum up: everyone loved the food. The spice levels were perfect for the individual tastes and there was enough to share, for those adventurous enough. We even went home with food in to-go boxes.

While others have said service was less than desired, our service was great. Not too intrusive, yet it seems water glasses were never left half full. We arrived earlier than the second half of our foursome and while we were served our drinks and the appetizer, we never felt rushed or guilty about only having half the party there. It was a very pleasant experience. Cost was reasonable for the experience. The tab for two, including appetizer, two entrees and non-alcoholic beverages was about $60.

What did we get? We started with the assorted veg bites. (Remember, one of us is a vegetarian.) This appetizer came with veg samosa, aloo tikki, paneer pakora and veg pakora. Please, please, please don’t ask me to explain what all is in these delicacies. Suffice to say, they are vegetarian compliant and they all taste great.

I then had the seekh kebabs – marinated lamb meat, minced then spiced and formed into rolls, skewered then ultimately cooked in a Tandoor oven. The kebabs were served on top of fresh vegetables, all sizzling on a searing hot skillet. “Be careful, sir. The plate is hot.” Like the sound and steam didn’t clue me in? Taste? Awesome.

My wife ordered the Matar Paneer, a dish with paneer (an Indian cheese that is made in the restaurant; the closest American equivalent have might be “Farmer’s Cheese”) green peas, curry sauce and spices. It also came with a large bowl of saffron infused rice. She tends to order this dish whenever we try Indian food and I must say – she loved it. I can’t imagine a better endorsement.

Our dining partners ordered the Tandoori Chicken and the Chicken Tikka. In both cases, the chicken had been marinated overnight, then cooked Tandoori-style. The Tikka had actually been marinated in a sauce of yogurt, garlic, ginger and Garam masala. Now “what” is Garam masala? I’m glad you asked. This is a spice blend, prevalent throughout India apparently, where the ingredients and ratios tend to vary by chef. Those of you who make your own chili or barbecue sauce will understand. So we just don’t know. But it was delicious!

Of course, we could not eat Indian cuisine with out a healthy serving of garlic naan, a flatbread grilled in the Tandoor. I could eat this as the entire meal. (Sorry Dr. Adkins, I’ll start my low carb diet again…tomorrow!)

We were too full to enjoy a dessert, though we were offered.  Some of us did have a cool beverage to end the evening: a mango-yogurt shake called Mango Lassi. I looked around the dining room and saw many tables had made the same choice. A perfect way to recover from the spice and full flavor of the wonderful meal.

So next time you fly in from Mumbai, try Saffron Indian Bistro, located in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Open Monday through Friday for lunch, 11:30 am to 2:30 pm. Dinner begins at 5:30 pm. On Saturday and Sunday, the Bistro is open from noon through 10 PM (Saturday) and 11 pm (Sunday.)

Check out the website for more information. And take a chance! Go! Eat! Enjoy!

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