Archive for November, 2010


Yummy Moussaka

Moussaka – Have heard that word before. Knew it had something to do with food. So when I came across the word on a Kurdish takeaway menu, I said let’s try that. And yummy doesn’t even begin to describe it.

And I just couldn’t get enough of it. Not that I went to the point of gluttony and wanting a second helping during the same meal. But I kept thinking about it and googled numerous Moussaka recipes to make it. Not satisfied with any of the recipes, I fused bits of 3 different Moussaka recipes and came up with my own. And I tell you, that doesn’t happen often enough. And the result – a raving success. So here’s the recipe if you want to try it.

Vegetarian Moussaka:

Ingredients for the Moussaka –

  • 1 Large Aubergine/Eggplant
  • 1 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans (washed and drained)
  • 2 fresh tomatoes
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 cloves of Garlic
  • 2 Green chillies (if you like it hot/or you can season it with pepper)
  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh Parsley
  • 1/2 Bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Cheese
  • 1 tsp Dried Mixed herbs (optional)
  • Bechamel sauce

Ingredients for Bechamel sauce  –

  • 3 tbsp Flour
  • 4 tbsp Butter/Vegetable Oil
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • A pinch of Nutmeg powder
  • Salt & Pepper to season

Method –

Cut aubergines into 1cm thick circles, lay them on a baking tray. Sprinkle salt and let it rest for 20-30 minutes so the bitter juices get removed. Squeeze out the juices from the eggplant before baking it. During this time get your onions, tomatoes and chillies chopped up. Crush garlic instead of chopping them for a more rustic taste.

Heat some oil in a saucepan, add your onions, garlic and saute until the onions turn translucent. Then throw in your chillies. Cook for a minute. Then add the washed and drained chickpeas to the saucepan. After this is cooked for a bit, add your tomatoes and season with salt and cook for a few more minutes.

While the lentil mix is cooking, prep the aubergines. Brush both sides of all eggplant pieces with olive oil and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. Flip eggplants after 10 minutes in the oven so the other side is cooked through as well. The eggplants must look almost transparent at the end of it. After which remove them from the oven.

Now for the bechamel sauce.  Heat a saucepan, put the butter/oil and add flour. Stir with a spatula until the flour starts rolling up into small balls and comes together. Start adding milk little by little. Replace your spatula with a whisk now for stirring and this will easily dissolve those lumps in the sauce. I learnt this the hard way, believe me. Add the bay leaf and pinch of nutmeg to it. Season it with a little salt and pepper. And cook until it thickens. You don’t want your sauce to be too runny nor too thick. Try to keep it in the middle so you can easily pour it later onto your baking dish in the end.

Take a slightly deep baking dish so you can start layering. Place one layer of  baked eggplants for the bottom most layer. On top of it add the lentil-onion-tomato mix. A sprinkle of chopped parsley and mixed herbs. Top up again with a layer of eggplant topped by the lentil mix and parsley & herbs again. Then pour the bechamel sauce evenly to cover the eggplant and lentil layers. [By the way you need to have removed the bay leaf from the sauce before you do this].

Combine the bread crumbs and cheese in a bowl and sprinkle on top of the bechamel sauce.

Your moussaka is ready to be baked. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the bread crumbs become a deep golden brown (or almost close to charring). I baked it at 200 degrees Celsius.

Vegetarian Moussaka

* If you want a traditional version of Moussaka, you can replace the bechamel sauce with a traditional yoghurt mix made Greek style. Combine an egg, 2 tbsp greek yoghurt, 1 heaped tbsp of parmesan cheese, a pinch of nutmeg and whisk together. This also gives the same creamy texture to the moussaka and bake.

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Go Bananas



A Wave of Shock! Raised eyebrows! Petrified eyes! Are you nuts???

I am describing the array of expressions that I got in response to the words that I uttered – “Stick a needle in the banana”. Just one of those times when literal translations shock the living lights out of people.

A regular day at work, a welcome respite of a team meeting to punctuate one of our busiest days. Our manager was talking about one of her upcoming training sessions on “Courageous conversations with people”. We all thought that it was a very different topic and something worth investigating a bit more. After all, training programmes these days have become so clichéd, repetitive and boring.

So with the brimming interest in the topic I shared a recent conversation that I had with a client about tactfully pointing out her setbacks. You could ask if it was my place to point it out in the first place. Just call me one of those ‘poke-one’s-nose-in-other-people’s-business” type of people and one who does their job a bit too well. I took it upon myself and said it just had to be done and did just that. And the client agreed to the bitter truth that I illuminated for her. Many of my colleagues were surprised that the client accepted it.

And we all agreed in the end that it’s not the facts that people disagree with, but the manner in which we put it across to them. So I finished with a cheeky grin and said – “Kinda like sticking a needle in the banana”.

And that’s when those expressions came to life and the room fell silent. I looked around. Some of them didn’t understand what I meant or implied and looked at me as if I were nuts.

And one of my colleagues gathered his ‘courage’ and asked me what I meant. So I had to elaborate. “By pointing out a setback to a client, I am poking or pricking them with an information that can’t easily be ingested. And when you stick the needle in a banana it goes down a bit more easily without noticing it.”

Dawning, by that I mean ‘understanding’ I realised was also an expression I have come across all within a span of 1 hour. Office dynamics I say makes me ‘Go Bananas’!!!

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