Almost-Traditional Tuna Salad Sandwich with Arugula & Avocado & Tomato


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

Sometimes – bombarded with cooking shows & fancy foodie sites – you forget about old school standards.  I grew up in a low income, working class home in Boston.  Tuna was a delicacy to me back then.  My mother used to buy a can each of light & white tunas & combine them – not because she thought it tasted better that way but because the light tuna was less expensive (By how much – a few cents??  We were POOR!) – and it was her way of stretching the more costly white tuna out.  I didn’t even get this poor man’s tuna as often as I would have liked.  I mostly got Underwood Deviled Ham sandwiches for lunch.


stock image

I got them SO often, in fact, that, eventually – the very smell of the stuff induced me to uncontrollable gagging.  And know – I was a big eater, easy to please & learned EARLY the art of eating for entertainment rather than sustenance.  I was no drama queen when it came to food.  I ate steamed clams & sucked marrow out of the bones of short ribs, ate “raw” hotdogs & even sampled Milk Bones.  I didn’t give a shit.  But when I didn’t like something – it was bad – a fact my mother learned the hard way by forcing me to continue eating a soft boiled egg over broken toast concoction that was making me gag (egg yolks were not my friend).  As she stood over me, arms akimbo, waiting for me to finish my meal – I promptly vomited into the bowl.  This sent my mother into paroxysms of laughter.  Eh – but don’t hold that against her.  She had to mix light tuna in with her white tuna so she could afford to serve her four-eyed, husky daughter a friggin’ tuna sandwich once in a while.  Who are we to begrudge her finding laughter where she could?


Anyway – I digress.  Forthcoming – the simple ingredients & assembly.


Almost-Traditional Tuna Salad Sandwich with Arugula & Avocado & Tomato


Bread/roll of your choice – toasted or not

1 5oz can of white tuna in water – drained

1/2 avocado – sliced

1/2 tomato – sliced

1 handful of arugula (or other leafy green)

pinch of salt & pepper

1 TBS mayo

1 TBS mustard (I like this fancified jalapeno stuff!)



Mix the salt, pepper, mustard & mayo with the tuna.  Stack all the ingredients into your bread situation.  Eat it standing up while watching TV.  There are zero calories that way.



Blogger Spotlight – Go Cook Yourself

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Macho Meringue Martini

All Photos in this post – Go Cook Yourself

I don’t know how I found this blog but I can tell you I am pretty sure this picture of a Spinach & Feta Tart was involved:


Doesn’t that look RIDICULOUS!?

I love the simply stated recipes with the verb in bold & the minimalist instructions.  Here is the tart recipe (for example):

400g Spinach / 300g Feta Cheese / 100g Pine Nuts / 50g Cheddar Cheese / 5 Eggs / 1 Lemon / Oregano / Nutmeg / Filo Pastry / Cayenne Pepper / Greaseproof Paper / Oil (1)

HEAT oven to 200C

POUR drop of oil onto 50cm of greaseproof paper and spread out

MAKE square of filo using four pieces of pastry, overlapping edges slightly

SPRINKLE on cayenne pepper

REPEAT process twice, building the filo pastry up in layers

SET aside pastry square

TOAST pine nuts lightly in a frying pan

WILT spinach in pan until dense

GRATE half a Nutmeg into spinach (2)

CRACK eggs into large bowl and whisk

CRUMBLE in Feta and grated Cheddar (3)

ADD grated lemon rind and spinach

SEASON with pepper and pinch of Oregano

MIX with a large spoon

PREPARE baking tin with greaseproof paper

LINE tin with filo pastry square

POUR in spinach and feta mix (4)

PULL pastry over filling

THROW in oven for 20 mins (5)

DON’T promote it on Tumblr cos it will break and bitches will hate you

Please note the final instruction.  While the photographs (so beautifully done!) were what lured me to this blog – it is the cheeky irreverence that keeps me checking back.

FIND recipes for Tap That Ass Risotto:


or a Lonely Island Iced Tea (again – note the final instruction):



1/2 Shot Vodka / 1/2 Shot White Rum / 1/2 Shot Gin / 1/2 Shot Triple Sec (Orange Liqueur) / Lemon Juice / Cola

ADD alcohol to shaker with lemon juice


POUR over ice

TOP with coke

DRINK four by yourself and pass out


That is the image for High on Brownies.

And look at these amazing breakfasts!!!


Ymmmmm!  So – if you like a smart ass AND you like cooking AND you like gorgeous food porn – Go Cook Yourself is the blog for you!!!!  Now – go cook yourself!


Tom Yum or Spicy Lemongrass Soup



All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

This is one easy soup!  Spicy, healthy & delicious!  Fresh lemongrass is key here, though, so make sure some is available to you.  My Asian market – Bangluck in Hollywood – is CHEAP & full of so many amazing ingredients – it is genuinely inspiring.  The Thai restaurant next door (a very good one – FYI) always pumps the most delicious smells out, too – increasing the inspirational impact of Bangluck.  I recommend stopping by the Sanam Luang Cafe after a long night of drinking & watching bikini dancers at Jumbo’s Clown Room – across the street.  Jumbo’s is FANTASTIC – btw.  No cover.  No drink minimum.  No girls hustling drinks or lap dances.  And no nudity.  So civilized – my mother requested a stop there one Christmas Eve.  True story.

Anyway – this soup.  Let’s get to it.  Know that it is very spicy.  GREAT for cold & flu season & might even qualify as a hangover cure, too!  This can be made with or without the addition of coconut milk.  I chose not to use it in favor of a lighter, healthier soup but the coconut version is delicious, too!

One great resource is the canned curry paste available at Bankluck – for about $1.19.  Cheap & versatile!  This recipe calls for the red variety.




Tom Yum or Spicy Lemongrass Soup


2 stalks of lemongrass

5+ slices of fresh ginger – sliced like large inedible disks

5 TBS fish sauce

2 limes

2 serrano chiles

1 tsp chili paste with garlic (more if you are a glutton for spice – less if you are not)

1 cup mushrooms – sliced

1 TBS red curry paste

1 small tomato – diced (I used leftover canned stuff from my Chick Pea Curry dish – and didn’t like it.  Use a fresh tomato.)

4 cups vegetable stock

4+ of any of the following OPTIONS: baby corn, straw mushrooms, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, shrimp, tofu, 1 cup of lite coconut milk.

Thai basil, mint and/or cilantro for garnish


Cut the end off the lemongrass stalks and peel away the dried layers.  Using a coffee mug or a rolling pin or other sturdy thing – gently hammer the lemongrass.  This is called bruising & it makes the lemongrass release its fragrance & flavor.  Cut the lemongrass into one inch sections.

Cute the serranos in into quarters & seed them.  With the flat side of a knife – press the chiles a little – bruising them a bit, too, so they release their flavor more completely.

Heat the stock & when boiling – add the lemongrass, serranos, ginger, fish sauce, chili paste, red curry paste & the juice of one lime.  Reduce the heat so that the soup stays very hot – but isn’t at a rolling boil.  Add the chopped tomato and mushrooms and all of the other ingredients you elected to use.  Simmer for about 15 minutes so that all the flavors can meld and the shrimp – if you are using it – is cooked through.

Ladle the soup into individual bowls & garnish with whatever herbs you selected (basil, mint and/or cilantro) and serve each bowl with a wedge of lime.

NOTE: The lemongrass, serranos & ginger slices should not be eaten.  Either remove them before serving or avoid them in your bowl.


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

Spicy Thai Pad Kee Mao or Drunken Noodles with Basil

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

This was an adventure that nearly ended in disaster.  I was really trying to duplicate my favorite restaurant Thai dish that I posted a while back ( but what I got was something different.  TASTY – but different.  My first effort resulted in an inky black mush that tasted great but was so ugly – I didn’t even bother to photograph it for this blog.  Then, I thought – “Why not just double the quantity of noodles in the dish?” – just add another whole package of noodles to the existing muck – to water down the darkness – so I did and voila!  The dish you see here is what I served my guests.  I understand this isn’t a proper Drunken Noodle dish because I didn’t use Thai Spicy Basil (no idea where to get that – if it’s not at my Thai market) – but whatever.  I’m not hung up on formality.  Know that this recipe used FOUR POUNDS of fresh noodles.  It was enough to feed at least ten people.  Cut it in half – unless you are either feeding a lot of people or, like me, love having a ton of Thai leftovers.  This will taste better the next day – for sure.  I fed five, sent everyone home with some & still have leftovers for myself.

I used this type of fresh rice noodles:


Stock photo –

I think fresh noodles are critical – but I haven’t tried this with a dried version – so maybe I am wrong.  These cost somewhere between a dollar or two and, if the packaging is accurate – all two pounds of noodles contained have a collective count of 292 calories.  Is that possible??  Is is an enormous amount of pasta for 292 calories!  But wassup with the “must be consumed within four hours of manufacture” business??  My Asian market has these things out on a shelf near the produce – not even refrigerated.  Is that safe?  Lord knows the meat & fish section of the store is pretty sketchy!  Pad See EEEEW – if you know what I’m saying.  Larvae?  Pig feet?  Beef bile?  WTF?


Anyway – I am just gonna go ahead & trust that the four hour warning on the noodles is a typo.

This recipe is going to use something called DARK or BLACK soy sauce & SWEET soy sauce.  I had never used them before & found them to resemble crude oil and they made my first batch of noodles look like something skimmed out of the reeds of Alabama after the BP disaster.  I will try to avoid using these again – especially the sweet stuff – as it was really thick, squid inky & ugly.  I tasted the dark soy sauce & it seemed surprisingly mild to me.  In the future –  I will try to use a substitute of some kind.  Despite the aesthetic drawbacks these ingredients present, however  – the fact is – the dish TASTED very good.  When I work out a prettier version of these noodles – I will share it.

I am going to have you guys make this the way I did – by adding the second package (or second half of the first package – if you are cutting this in half) at the very end – so the noodles stay more in tact & do not absorb all the black goo of the soy sauces.  Also note – these noodles are rolled tight in the package.  Soak them in warm water for a few minutes & then manually separate them from each other.  This is critical because they will not come apart in your wok (or other pan).  They will remain thick & clumped.  Not good.  Once all separated – let them rest in a colander until you are ready to use them.  If they start to dry out or stick – just rinse them with more water.




Pad Kee Mao or Drunken Noodles


2 packages (4 pounds) of fresh wide rice noodles – or dry substitute cooked according to directions.

3 TBS dark soy sauce

1 TBS sweet soy sauce

1 TBS oyster sauce

4 TBS fish sauce

6 TBS sambal oelek (less or more – according to your tolerance for heat)

1 lime

3 TBS canola or peanut oil

6 garlic cloves – minced

6 eggs

1 medium onion – sliced

1 large shallot – chopped

1 red bell pepper – sliced into slivers with a little set aside – diced & reserved for garnish

1 cup Thai basil – chopped

6 large mushrooms – sliced (optional)

5 heads bok choy (optional) – or other meat/fish/veggies of your choice



Soak & separate your fresh noodles – or cook dry ones according to instructions.  Set aside in a colander – rinsing occasionally so they don’t stick & set.

Scramble the eggs in a small pan & set aside.

Heat the oil in a wok or other LARGE pan and add the garlic, onions, shallot & mushrooms & saute until the onions are soft.


Add the red bell pepper & saute another minute or two.


Blend the sweet soy sauce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce & fish sauce in a bowl & add to the onion mixture in the wok.

If you are using a meat or fish – add that here & saute until done.  I did not use anything like that in my version.

Add HALF the noodles & stir them in well until they are well coated with the sauce.  They should look pretty dark & unappealing.  These noodles might break up a bit, too.  That’s fiine – let them.  These dark & broken apart noodles will serve as a kind of sauce on the second portion of noodles added later.  Add the sambal oelek & the juice of the lime & stir it in well.  A few minutes before you are ready to serve the dish – carefully mix in the remaining noodles, bok choy, Thai basil & the scrambled eggs.  Try not to break up the noodles  – striving to keep as many as possible in the longest possible length and maybe don’t stir so much – so that not all the noodles get completely covered in sauce.  Cook 2-3 minutes or until the bok choy is wilted but still vibrant.

Serve on individual plates & garnish with diced red bell pepper and/or some sliced Thai basil.  Extra sambal oelek can be added individually by those who want a hotter dish.



Hangover Cure #4 – Spicy Bloody Mary



All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

Is there something satirical or, you know, wrong about posting a hangover cure that involves alcohol in an Amy Winehouse pint glass?  I’m too hung over to figure that out.  I would like to say this, though, to you amateurs out there:  yes – I understand that it seems counter intuitive to drink more of the demon that got you feeling so bad as the cure for feeling so bad but you gotta trust.  Maybe beer isn’t your thing.  Maybe Bloody Marys disgust you.  Then try a Bellini or something.  I don’t care.  But hair of the dog is the shortest way to recovery.  Well – maybe recovery is the wrong word to use because drinking in the morning is a slippery slope – I acknowledge that – and it might lead to a need for recovery of an entirely more permanent & far less pleasant variety – sobriety.   So – let’s just say – alcohol can mend what alcohol threw asunder – much like Ritalin (a form of speed) can cure hyperactivity.   Just try not to get into a pattern with it.  After all – a professional drinker understands pacing & training & developing tolerance.  You can’t just go out once a month & do Jager shots & expect to hang with the big boys.  Just like a good chef cleans as she goes, a good drinker knows their limits and never – I mean never – gets sloppy.  But – hangovers get the best of us, sometimes.  And I am here to hook you up.

OK – so – I am not a tomato juice person.  It is thick & gross & always seems warm.  Blech.  And – I would like to point out – never did I sample a glass of tomato juice & respond by saying, “You know what’s wrong with this juice?  It doesn’t taste fishy enough.”  What could be worse than a thick, warm mouthful of tomato juice slugging its way down your throat like a kidnapper’s gag?  A thick, warm mouthful of CLAM-infused tomato juice, that’s what.

Or, at least, that’s what you’d think.  While I have found that vodka & numerous spicy additions are the only things that can salvage a glass of tomato juice and render it even remotely tempting – I need to confess that Clamato (to make a Caesar – makes a superior Bloody Mary – far better than just that random, plain, canned gagger stuff.  Better yet, though, are the many pre-mixed spicy blends out there.  I cannot make a decent Bloody Mary from plain tomato juice.  I just cannot.  I need to start with a decent Bloody Mary mix – like Mr. & Mrs. T’s –   Starting with one of these mixes – and not one of the really thick ones – I add the following:


LOTS of ice

Vodka – no need for an expensive one – since so much crap is gonna be added


Sriracha –

Hot sauce – I like Crystal –

Olives – the standard Spanish olives with pimento

Celery – with the leafy top

Dill pickles – for rim garnish (if you have’m.  They are not critical)

Lime juice (fresh only!)


I am pretty heavy handed with the horseradish & the lime.  You can mix these ingredients in any ratio you prefer.  Master chef tip?   If you go heavy with the vodka on the first one – the second one tastes AMAZING!


Vegan Chana Masala or Chick Pea & Spinach Curry

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

I am posting this easy & delightful dish after the eggplant dish in case folks might actually feel ambitious & want to make an Indian feast with more than one flavor.  Both dishes are vegan – by chance, not design.  I have never seen a non-vegan version – so, if you are a die hard carnivore – do not be thrown by the word.  Both of these dishes seem deceptively rich despite being very, very healthy.



Chana Masala


29 oz can chick peas (or an equivalent of fresh soaked-overnight beans – if you are really motivated)

2 medium tomatoes – quartered

16 oz fresh spinach – chopped

1 in cube fresh ginger – chopped OR 3 TBS jarred crushed ginger

3 serrano chiles – seeded & roughly chopped

6 TBS olive oil

3 tsp cumin SEEDS – not ground

3 garlic cloves

2 TBS ground coriander

2 tsp turmeric

1 TBS crushed red pepper (or to taste)

2 tsp salt

1 TBS garam masala (if you can’t find it – you can make it:

15 oz can diced tomatoes (or 3 more fresh ones – chopped)


Drain & wash the chick peas.  In a blender or with an immersion mixer – puree the 2 medium tomatoes with the serranos and the ginger.

Heat the oil in a pan.  When hot – add the cumin SEEDS & beware the spitting & popping.  They hurt if they hit you. Add the garlic.  Saute for a minute then add the tomato puree and all the dry spices.  Cook this for about 5 minutes until the mixture reduces by 1/4 to 1/2.

Stir in the spinach – adding a little water if it is needed to properly steam the spinach down.  Cover & cook for 3-4 minutes or until the spinach is completely wilted but still vibrant.  Add the chick peas & the canned tomatoes (or chopped fresh) & stir them in.  You can add water if there isn’t enough gravy – or cook it down if it is too wet.  Cook this for another 5 minutes or so – longer if using dried chick peas.  Test a chick pea for texture & if it tastes done to you – you are good to go.

Serve over basmati rice.



2 cups basmati rice – rinsed several times in a colander

1 TBS olive oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp salt

20 green cardamom pods (if you can get them)


Heat the olive oil in a pan.  Once hot – add the cumin seeds & the cardamom pods – again being wary of their popping & spitting.  I used 20 cardamom pods because mine were a bit old.  You might want to use fewer if yours are fresh & really pungent.  After a minute – add the rice & stir until it is all covered in oil & the spices are well blended.  Add 4 cups of water (or whatever ratio of rice to water your package suggests) & bring to a boil.  Use less water for firmer rice.  Once boiling – reduce heat to low & simmer, covered, for however long the rice package instructs you.  Remove from heat.  Fluff with a fork.


Vegan Punjabi Baingan Bharta – A Spicy Roasted Eggplant Dish from India with Basmati Rice



All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

vromans front

vromans back

I started experimenting with Indian food over twenty years ago – when I gave up eating meat.  I had more misses than hits & found out a few things the hard way – like finding out the Krishna’s do not use onion or garlic (essential ingredients – in my opinion) after spending $30 on a Krishna cookbook (this one – AVOID it –   Krishnas avoid onion & garlic for many surprising reasons – among them that garlic may “lead to lewd indulgences.”  (  This – alone – is reason enough to eat garlic all the time.   Anyway – I made Indian food every day for weeks on end.  I invited people over frequently – to sample my results.  Soon – they became reticent and later – exhibited outright defiance – and would only agree to come over & be fed on the condition I did NOT serve Indian food.  Not because it was always bad (though it often was) – but more because it just got to be kinda ridiculous.  We were all walking around reeking of curry.  Sad times.

Thankfully, I tell you those days are long gone.  I have broadened my vegetarian menu extensively and it is more likely to be pizza my guests object to having – yes, again – than Indian food.  This eggplant dish is always my favorite & my go-to item on any Indian menu.  If you hate eggplant – do not be alarmed.  This dish transforms eggplant into an unrecognizable mush that is so heavily seasoned – few could identify the primary ingredient without having been told.  Likewise – if you are among the unfortunate among us that loathe cilantro – and I know you are out there – the cilantro here, while important, gets lost in the blend of other flavors.  If you hate cilantro – it is not your fault.  Here is an article outlining why:  Cilantro haters are in a similar category to those among us that know the agonies of “asparagus pee.”  Apparently – we ALL produce the smelly stuff – but only 22% can detect the scent…at least according to this article:  I also found this tidbit – which explains it a different way:

Mark Leyner and Dr. Billy Goldberg explained asparagus pee in their book,“Why Do Men Have Nipples?”.

“Asparagus contains a sulfur compound called mercaptan. It is also found in onions, garlic, rotten eggs, and in the secretions of skunks,” they wrote. “The signature smell occurs when this substance is broken down in your digestive system. Not all people have the gene for the enzyme that breaks down mercaptan, so some of you can eat all the asparagus you want without stinking up the place. One study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found that only 46 percent of British people tested produced the odor while 100 percent of French people tested did.”

Anyway – use the damned cilantro.  It adds MUCH needed color to this dish & you will not be offended by its taste.  At least use a little.  OK?  Please?

This dish is spicy.  Genuinely so.  Lessen the quantity of serrano/jalapeno if spice irks you.  Add more if you are a spice freak.  Also know – I use WAY more of the other spices listed than most any other version of this recipe you will find.  This is a powerfully flavored version.  Also know – it is an AMAZING dieter’s dish because the only thing in it with any calorie count work mentioning is the 2 tablespoons of olive oil – and this recipe makes an ENORMOUS amount of this stuff.  I bet it could feed 6 or 8 folks – what with the rice addition and all.  A cup of eggplant has 20 calories.  2 TBS of olive oil have – GREAT CRIPES – I just looked it up!!  2 TBS of olive oil is 240 calories!  Jeez.  That explains a LOT about my ass & thighs.   Ok -still – Let’s call this 6 cups of eggplant & 2 TBS of olive oil – for a total of 360 calories for the ENTIRE RECIPE.  And it is delicious!

Again – this will make a LOT of this dish.  Be prepared for yummy leftovers.

One final note – broiling the eggplant the day before or way in advance (so they can cool) is very helpful, but not necessary.


Vegan Punjabi Baingan Bharta – A Spicy Roasted Eggplant Dish from India with Basmati Rice


5 medium eggplant

2 medium onions – diced

3 inch cube of fresh ginger – or 4 TBS jarred, minced ginger (fresh is better)

2 TBS olive oil

1 TBS cumin SEEDS (not ground cumin)

1 large jalapeno – seeded & diced

2 large serrano chiles – seeded & diced

4 garlic cloves – crushed

4 medium tomatoes – diced

2 TBS garam masala (recipe here – if you cannot find it made:

1 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp turmeric

2 tsp salt

1 bunch fresh cilantro

Extra tomato or red bell pepper (pictured above) – diced very fine for garnish.  Garnish is important with this dish because it is really little more than a dark mush.  It needs prettifying more than your average bear.  Extra cilantro – chopped fine – can also be nice – instead or in addition.


Prick your eggplants all over with a fork.  Line a cookie sheet with foil & place the eggplant on it & into the oven.  Broil the eggplant about 5 inches from the flame – turning OFTEN – until they are bursting & blackened on all sides.  DO NOT FORGET TO PRICK THE EGGPLANTS or they WILL explode inside your oven & that will be one crime scene you will not want to clean up.



They will look like this when they are done.  It might take 20-30 minutes – depending on the size of your eggplant & your broiler.  You kinda can’t OVER do this – though you can under do it.  Err on the side of charring.  It adds flavor & makes removing the skin WAY easier!


Let the eggplant cool until they are safe to handle.  HOURS of cooling is best – unless you have Grandma hands & you are impervious to scalding hot eggplant juice.

Cut the green cap end off the eggplant & remove all the flesh from the charred skin (sounds gross).  The result should look kind of like this (looks gross):


Roughly chop this eggplant up & set it aside.

Heat the olive oil up in a pan.  When it is hot – add the cumin seeds.  Beware – they will sizzle & pop & some will jump out of the pan at you.  Ouch.


Once these are fragrant  – about a minute – add the chopped onion & fry until they are translucent & soften.  Add the garlic & ginger & serrano/jalapenos.


Saute this for another minute or two.

Add the chopped tomatoes.


Stir this a minute then add the garam masala, ground coriander, ground cumin, turmeric & salt.


Add the chopped eggplant.  Stir.  Chop the cilantro & add it to the mix & blend well.  Remove from heat.

Using a food processor or a blender – puree the entire mixture.  Return the puree to the pan to keep it warm on very low heat.  The pureeing isn’t essential but I think it delivers a more pleasing result and more completely fuses the flavors.  If you are unable to puree or choose not to – simply be sure to chop all the ingredients very finely before adding them to the recipe – especially the eggplant.  Hunks of soft eggplant can bum some people out.




2 cups basmati rice – rinsed several times in a colander

1 TBS olive oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp salt

20 green cardamom pods (if you can get them)


Heat the olive oil in a pan.  Once hot – add the cumin seeds & the cardamom pods – again being wary of their popping & spitting.  I used 20 cardamom pods because mine were a bit old.  You might want to use fewer if yours are fresh & really pungent.  After a minute – add the rice & stir until it is all covered in oil & the spices are well blended.  Add 4 cups of water (or whatever ratio of rice to water your package suggests) & bring to a boil.  Use less water for firmer rice.  Once boiling – reduce heat to low & simmer, covered, for however long the rice package instructs you.  Remove from heat.  Fluff with a fork.

Serve the rice on individual plates.  Top with the Baingan Bharta & garnish with either finely diced tomato, red bell pepper – or extra cilantro.