Sara Dhanani

Archive for the ‘Appetizers’ Category

Eggplant Bharta

In Appetizers, Favorite Recipes, Vegetarian, Week night meals on April 12, 2016 at 9:43 pm

My not so new instant pot has been working hard for me lately. I love the convenience of having a slow cooker, pressure cooker, steamer all in one handy electric pot. It adapts especially well to desi cooking. I steamed the eggplant in the instant pot and finished the curry on the stovetop, though you could easily make it in the instant pot. 

One eggplant 

Half an onion finely diced

Half a cup of strained tomatoes

A heaping teaspoon of ginger garlic paste

A little turmeric powder (1/2 tsp)

A punch of cayenne powder

A teaspoon of cumin powder 

Half a teaspoon of coriander powder

Fresh coriander leaves to garnish (which I didn’t have)


Cut the eggplant into quarters and steam in the instant pot (I added a cup of water and used the steamer insert). While the eggplant is steaming, heat a little oil in a saucepan, add finely diced onions and sauté till translucent. Add the ginger garlic paste and cook for a few minutes being careful not to burn the ingredients. Add salt along with turmeric, coriander and cumin powders and cayenne if you are using it. Once fragrant, add the tomato purée and stir, let it cook on a low medium heat till you see the oil separate. Once the eggplant is done, Mush the eggplant lightly with a fork and add to the saucepan. Combine the eggplant well with the masala and cover the saucepan with a lid. Let it simmer in its juices for 10-12 minutes on low heat. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Hot Mango Salsa

In Appetizers, Favorite Recipes, Vegetarian on May 10, 2015 at 12:49 pm

I’m in love with this recipe! It’s versatile, with well balanced flavors with a little zing that catches you by surprise but wanting more, more, MORE! I made it twice so far in 1 week and have been asked for the recipe countless times. The second time I made it with Serrano peppers and I found it had the right amount of spice for me, but you may want to scale back on the peppers if you want a milder salsa. The key is a ripe mango, it has to be slightly soft to touch like a ripe avocado and it should smell like a mango. If only I could get my hands on some juicy mangoes from Karachi,but in a pinch, champagne mangos are quite delicious in this recipe. 


Two tomatoes

Three ripened mangoes 

1/2 of a red onion

2 Serrano peppers

A handful of fresh cilantro

Lime juice

1 tsp sugar

A pinch or a couple pinches of salt


Peel and cut the flesh of the mango in chunks and using your food processor, pulse the mango chunks 2-3 times so they are a rough chop. Be careful not to make it a paste. Place in a bowl. Peel and deseed the tomatoes, cutting into the same size chunks as the mangoes and pulse them in the food processor as well the same size and consistency as the mango. In the mango bowl they go. Next pulse the onion till it’s fairly finely chopped and add to your bowl. I used two Serrano peppers with the seeds, pulsed finely in the food processor. Add in. Next finely hand chop the cilantro and add the bowl. Squeeze in lime juice, sugar and salt. Combine well and enjoy with tortilla chips! If you let it sit in the fridge overnight, the flavors really do thier Magic! 

Aloo Cholaay ki Chaat 

In Appetizers, Favorite Recipes, Vegetarian on April 26, 2015 at 12:31 pm

Chaat! With all its delicious spicy, tangy condiments is full of fresh flavors which explode in your mouth! The skies are heavy with clouds in Phoenix today with spring showers in the air which make it a perfect day to enjoy this Pakistani street food with a hot cup of tea. 

This is also a gluten free recipe. 


3 cartons of garbanzo beans

1/4 cup red lentils

One teaspoon soonht ( ginger powder)

One teaspoon red chilli powder

One teaspoon cumin powder

pinch of kala namak

One teaspoon sugar

salt per taste

4 boiled potato – cubed

Imli chutney:
1 cup imli soaked in water overnight
1/2 tsp soonth
1/2 tablespoon red chilli powder
1 tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp sugar or a little more if needed

Dahi chutney:

1 cup yogurt 

1/2 tsp red chilli powder

1 tsp cumin powder

2 tablespoons sugar


Wash the red lentils, disposing of the water. Fill a saucepan with 1 cup of water and add washed lentils. Cook on medium heat till cooked through and completely soft.  Then add drained garbanzo beans along with the boiled cubed potato. Add the cumin and chili powders, soonth, kala namak, salt, sugar and cool till it’s all combined.

Imli chutney:

Cook the soaked imli in its water until the pulp has disintegrated. Add sugar, chili powder, cumin powder, soonth and cook till it has the desired consistency. strain the paste using cheese clothe or a strainer and keep the chutney aside.

Dahi chutney: 

Add sugar, chili powder and cumin powder to the yogurt, beat well and chill before using.
For assembling, in a bowl, add cholay, top with chopped onion, tomato, cilantro, imli and Dahi chutney. Slims are optional! 

Dahi Bare

In Appetizers, Favorite Recipes, Vegetarian on April 3, 2015 at 7:31 pm

I have been looking for a recipe to make Dal dahi bare forever and just like that, my dearest Zaidi happened to mention she made it for a tea party! So off course with her trusty recipe I was off to a great start. This cooling appetizer/tea time favorite is a wonder dinner main or accompaniment once the Phoenix summer hits in the next few months. While the recipe seems labor intensive, it was easy to put together and absolutely divine!


Ingredients for the Vada/dumplings:

1/2 cup of urad/mash dal

1/2 cup of moong dal

One heaping teaspoon ginger garlic paste

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2-3 green chillies

Handful of coriander leaves

1-2 teaspoons salt

Chat masala:

Kala namak

Red chili powder

Cumin powder

Ginger powder

Tartaric acid



1/2 cup Tamarind soaked in water


1 tsp Red chili powder

A Few tablespoons of brown sugar and castor sugar

2 cups of yogurt.



Add all the ingredients for the chat masala in a jar and use as needed.

In a clean bowl add a few teaspoons of sugar,a pinch of salt, a little chat masala and 1/2 cup of water along with the yogurt. Mix and place aside.

To assemble the vada/ dumplings, soak the dals overnight in water. The next day, drain the water, add ginger garlic paste, salt, green chillies, corriander leaves and baking soda and blend till its a chunky paste. Deep fry the dumplings, a tsp at a time. As soon as it’s golden brown, take out of oil and immerse in a bowl filled with water. Let the vada soak for a few minutes and squeeze the vada to remove the water. Place in the prepared yogurt.


In a saucepan, add the soaked tamarind pulp, sugars, chili powder and chat masala and heat on low till the sugar dissolves. Taste to make sure it has the sweet and khatta taste you like, adjusting sugar/ chili as needed. Strain the chutney to remove the pulp.

Layer the dahi bara with a layer of yogurt topped with the vada, a teaspoon of chutney more yogurt spooned on top, repeating again with vada, chutney making sure your last layer is yogurt and chutney. Sprinkle with corriander leaves.

Red chili chutney

In Appetizers, Favorite Recipes, Vegetarian on August 10, 2014 at 3:49 pm

It’s 115 outside, and fiery in the kitchen as well. I’d recommend a glass of lemonade nearby as this chutney is additive.




Using your food processor, blend up a handful of dried red chillies, 4-5 cloves of garlic, and 1/2 a cup of chopped tomato. Once blended, pour into a saucepan and add a little salt and a tablespoon of oil and cook for 5-10 minutes till its kinda jammy.