Sunday, January 8, 2012
Fun with Eggplant
Baba ghanoush is a Middle Eastern eggplant dip enhanced with tahini and lemon juice. It retains the delicious smokiness that comes from getting the eggplant skin well-charred.
The other recipe is Indian, using a plethora of fragrant spices to transform the eggplant into something special. It's called Creamed Eggplant but the cream isn't that key to the dish. You could leave it out and it would still be awesome. The original recipe called for vegetable oil. I used butter instead and I do think it adds a depth of flavor. Use vegetable oil if you prefer. There is enough flavor here even if you use a neutral oil.
Both recipes came from Madhur Jaffrey's World of the East Vegetarian Cooking. I have added additional instructions on broiling the eggplants. She says to rinse them after peeling but I feel that is not necessary. Just be careful about removing all the skin because it would add a lot of bitterness, seeing as it's burned totally by the time it's done. It does take a while to cook the eggplant but it's worth it. The long broiling develops the smoky flavor that enhances both recipes.
To Roast Eggplants:
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. This makes clean-up easier.
Poke eggplants with a fork, 2-3 pokes front, back and sides.
Place eggplants on baking sheet and put under the broiler. The eggplants should be about 4-6" from the heating element. Too close and it will burn before the eggplant is fully cooked. Too far and you'll be waiting all day for it to cook.
Broil eggplant 10-15 minutes per side, for a total of 40-60 minutes. The skin with be well-charred and the flesh will be very soft when it's done.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Scoop out the flesh, scraping it off the charred skin.
Use in any recipe calling for broiled or roasted eggplant.
(makes about 1 ½ cups)
1 firm Italian eggplant, about 1 pound
1 - 2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tbl tahini
3 tbl fresh lemon juice
½ tsp kosher salt
1 tbl chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
Roast eggplant according to instructions above.
Place eggplant flesh into a food processor. Add garlic, tahini, lemon juice, and salt. Process until eggplant becomes a smooth paste.
Taste for salt and stir in chopped parsley, if desired.
Serve with crudites or pita triangles.
1 large firm Italian eggplant, about 1 ½ pounds
2 - 3 tbl butter
¼ tsp whole fennel seeds
¼ tsp ground fenugreek seeds (see Note)
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbl tomato sauce
1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
½ tsp kosher salt
1 pinch of cayenne
⅛ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp ground cumin
1 - 2 tbl heavy cream (optional)
1 tbl minced cilantro or Italian parsley
Roast eggplant according to instructions above. Chop eggplant flesh and set aside.
Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add fennel seeds and ground fenugreek. Add onions and garlic after a few seconds. Cook until onions are golden, about 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce, a tablespoon at a time. Stir well after each addition, allowing tomato sauce to fry in the oil and most of the liquid to evaporate, about 30 seconds.
Add reserved eggplant, ginger, and salt. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 10 - 12 minutes. Add cayenne, black pepper, cumin, and cream. Cook another minute to heat cream. Garnish with cilantro/parsley and serve.
Note: Ground fenugreek seeds are available at Indian markets, good grocers like Whole Foods. Make sure to get ground fenugreek seeds. The leaves are also used and don't taste the same.