Food wise I adore fish, I do eat a reasonable mount of meats, usually chicken or pork. I’m not a big beef fan and actually prefer the gamier end of the meat world – rabbit, hare, pheasant etc. But although I should be able to get something in the way of meat in India many Indians are of course vegetarian. Now I have cooked vegetarian food before for veggy friends but this has mainly been pasta dishes. In addition, I have been effectively vegetarian for periods when travelling, but have never lived in a substantially vegetarian culture. So bearing all this in mind, I have started to experiment with a diet change and with learning to cook Indian food. Hopefully what this means is that over the next couple of months I shall be increasing my repertoire of vegetarian dishes.
I started this week with infernal aubergine, or as the American call it the eggplant - although what it has to do with eggs is beyond me! Whatever, it is not a vegetable I have ever really taken to in the past. I learnt to cook ratatouille when a student – didn’t we all? It was one of those dishes fashionable in the 1970s and a easy way to have good cheap meal. But I have never really acquired the taste for aubergine. I can’t really describe what it tastes like to me, but it has often been bitter or cooked with far too oil for my stomach. So that was this weeks challenge, along with my first attempt ever to bake naan bread.
Well it has been a partial success. The two aubergine dishes I tried both worked out fine, whilst the naan bread needs (no pun intended) more practice. It turned out a bit more like pita bread. It tasted Ok, it just didn’t puff up like those I get in my local Indian restaurants. I suspect the problem was I was running out of yogurt and probably didn’t have enough. I shall try again and report back when more successful.
The two aubergine dishes were Smoked aubergine, which I had for lunch as dip with the naan, and an Balinese Aubergine dish called Terung Belado which I ate with plain boiled white rice for dinner. I am now sitting enjoying a refreshing grape spritzer by way of a congratulatory prize!
Here’s the recipes for you fellow food fans. If you try these out, you’ll have to use common sense with respect to quantities – at heart I am a bit of this and a bit of that, then taste it kind of cook. I reckon 1 aubergine amounts to about 2 servings.
2-4 cloves garlic depending on taste and size, sliced
1 inch root ginger, chopped
1 red chilli, finely sliced
2 tomatoes, skinned and chopped
2 kaffir lime leaves
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon palm sugar
Juice of ½ lime
Cut an aubergine into slices about 1cm think, toss in some salt and leave for about 10 minutes.
Heat oil in a wok, add aubergines and stir fry until lightly golden (about 5-6 mins). Life them out and leave to one side.
Fry the shallots and garlic until golden
Add ginger, chillies, tomatoes. Cook until tomatoes are soft
Add back in the aubergine, Kaffir lime leaves and about 3 tablespoons of water. Simmer until aubergines are tender and the sauce starts to reduce down.
Add soy sauce, palm sugar and lime juice. Salt to taste.
Taste-talk: if you like ginger and a subtle hint of chilli this is for you
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 inches of root ginger, grated
2 -3 tomatoes depending on size, peeled and chopped
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Handful of chopped coriander leaves
First roast the aubergine. The peel and chop it up.
Fry the onion until starting to brown. Add ginger and cook for about a minute more
Add tomatoes. Stir and fry until the mix started to reduce ( about 3minutes)
Add cumin, cayenee, and salt to taste.
Add aubergine. Lower the heat a bit to a medium heat and cook for 10-15 mins
Add coriander and mix well
Serve hot or cold
Taste-talk: I actually really like this. I imagine if you blended it into a smooth paste it would look more shop bought, but I kinda like the texture thing.
I saw this recently on a TV program as a way to use up left over grapes which you have left lying around the house which are still Ok but a little bit old.
Grapes, Glass of white wine, ice cubes, mint leaves, sparkling water or tonic
I worked on the basis of one mint leave per glass of wine
Now just fling everything in the blender and blend. Serve in long glass.
Taste-talk: It is unbelievably simple and delicious.