Entries in padma (2)
A bad thing happened- I discovered the new Maxim shoot of Megan Fox. With this event I said a few things, posted some comments on Twitter that I regret. I renounced my love for Padma to make room for the new girl. I know it's terrible- but we all say things we don't always mean. To get my head straight I revisited her book, Tangy Tart Hot and Sweet: A World of Recipes for Every Day, to focus again on what is truly important.
One of my favorite recipes from her book is her puree of roasted eggplant, a simplified version of an Indian dish called baigan bhartha. There are a large number of people that tend to be adverse to Indian food because of unfamiliar flavors, smells, and fear. This is a great intro dish for the fearful. It's very easy to prepare and is a nice back pocket recipe to have for parties.
- olive oil
- 1 large italian eggplant, about 1.5 lbs, halved lengthwise
- 1 red onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 fresh hot red or green chilies, chopped
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
- 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- Preheat the broiler
- Brush a bit of olive oil on the open cut surfaces of eggplant. Broil the eggplants for 20 minutes, until soft. When they are cool enough to handle, remove the skin and place the pulp in a large bowl.
- Mash the pulp; add the onion and stir to combine.
- Crush the garlic and red chilies in a mortar with a pestle until a paste is formed.
- Add the salt, crushed garlic and chilies, and cilantro (reserving a small amount to garnish) to the eggplant. Blend well.
- Squeeze the lemon juice into the mixture, and garnish with the remaining cilantro.
That's pretty easy. I'm going to help you realize how easy it is and some nifty substitutions I did. The first time I read the recipe, I misread the directions and broiled the eggplant for 30 minutes. I'm pretty sure this would happen by 20 minutes anyway, especially if the broiler is set to high, but this will without a doubt, 'over-caramelize' the eggplant- making the top a fine shade of black. The great thing about this dish is, that doesn't matter! By the time the pulp is thoroughly mashed, no one will ever know.
This is a big if, but if you have asbestos hands like myself, remove the pulp right away. This way when the garlic paste is added it will begin to cook slightly and open up, releasing a wonderful aroma. Also, the term 'fresh hot red chilies' is pretty vague to me. Whenever I see such a line I usually substitute sambal oelek, which is always in my pantry. The advantages of this are consistent flavor, less chopping, less work, and less clean-up.
Be sure to cut down on the amount red onion or garlic, depending on your serving audience. If you load it up with those two ingredients, the dish can be fairly harsh. If you then serve that to your girlfriend, good luck on the post-dinner rituals. I completely omit the red onion component and the dish came out fine. I also add some extra virgin olive oil, which makes the texture smooth and much more spreadable, which is desired because I serve this dish with grilled pita bread. My final touch, is the addition of toasted sesame seeds on top.
I like making bowls of this dish for parties, or as a side with dinner. It is very cost-effective and nutritious, which makes it a big winner. Serving this dish is also an easy way to convince your friends that you're 'cultured.' If your friends didn't like it and you have a ton leftover- it makes an excellent omelet filling.
Padma, if you read this, remember I may say hurtful things at times, but I will always love you.