I'd been racking my brains as to what to create for Terra Madre day (India) hosted by Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal, but sometimes the answer is staring at you in the face! The best dishes in life are those created with the simplest of ingredients, locally sourced and seasoned with an abundance of love and care.
The first dish that comes to mind was a Maa ladoo a delicious confection made with roasted chick pea flour sugar, ghee and cardamom. This is still my all time favorite sweet snack that instantly reminds me of my mother.
The second was a recipe taught to me by my aunt Lakshmi Ramanathan while on holiday in Bangalore, India. The perfect dish for supper, simple eggplant bharta with fresh roti. 'Chithi' as I call her has been the mother figure in my life from the moment I lost my own mother in 2007.
The dominant flavor is brought about, not by any spice or spice blend, but simply the robust smokiness of the char grilled eggplant and heat from ginger & green chilli. What makes the dish all the more delightful was the light hearted 'chick' conversations we had about Bollywood and the like that went on while she simultaneously grilled the veggies, sauteed them, rolled the roti, & before you know it, Dinner was ready!
Lakshmi Ramanathan's Baingan Bharta
2 'smallish' medium sized Italian eggplants
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup finely diced red onion
1-2 green chiles, diced fine
1-2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger root
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro + more for garnishing
Juice of 1/2 a lime
2 tablespoon ghee or cooking oil
Slit the eggplants through the center as shown. Place on a gas stove burner set on high and grill until the skin chars and the entire vegetable is soft & cooked through.
Allow to cool and peel off the charred skin.
Using your fingers, smash the flesh into a pulp.
Heat the ghee in a skillet and add the onions along with the green chiles and the ginger. Saute till the onions are soft & have turned translucent
Add the tomatoesto the onion & saute till the tomatoes have turned a bit soft.
Add the eggplant pulp along with salt, turmeric and chopped cilantro and simmer over a low flame until all the flavors have combined.
Transfer to a serving dish, drizzle with lime and garnish with cilantro.
Serve hot with fresh warm rotis.
Bon Appetit! and wishing everyone a very happy Terra Madre Day