I KNEW there was a reason why I had a tinge of reluctance when I set out for my holiday to India. I was, after all going full steam ahead with my daily blog, I had a set of 6 -8 recipes that I had on hand as a spare and a whole hives worth of ideas buzzing in my head. But at the back of my head I knew that the holiday would set me into a state of extended lethargy that would be extremely difficult to shake off. When it came to writing up a blog post, or making dishes or even uploading my photographs from my camera to the computer, my system would go into a slow down / get distracted by other mundane stuff mode. Net result.. I've yet to publish my post on the amazing experience I had at the Indian Food Bloggers meet almost 2 months ago. Go figure!
If I stuck to my initial decision of posting my recipes in the order that I've made them for the past month, I'd probably never get started, so here goes. I plan to start the blogging process and then get back to completing and posting all the half finished drafts (14 at last count).
And before I knew it, another half a day has elapsed since I started writing the post.*SIGH*
Back to the recipes and moving away from any form of justifying my laziness...I finally got to meet Anjali Koli, the blogger behind Annaparabrahma in Bangalore at the Indian Food Blogger's meet and she was just as bubbly & cheery as I pictured her to be during the course of our online interaction as bloggers. (In fact, each and everyone of the bloggers I met were absolutely delightful, and I would definitely have befriended them if we met in real life. The mysteriousness of the online factor just adds to the charm!). She has some fabulous spice blends from her native Koli community for sale on her blog. I got myself a stash of 3 different spice blends and simply fell in love with the flavors & aroma.
I finally made a trip to the Union square Farmers Market in NYC last weekend with the kids in tow and confirmed a lingering suspicion in my son's head that I was missing a marble or two upstairs when it came to produce. Schlepped a huge backpack filled with about 8 - 10 lbs of cabbage, 4 different varieties of chili peppers, strawberries and fairy tale eggplants. It would have made sense if I came back home directly, but NOOO.. I sauntered all around the American Museum of Natural History for about four hours with the load on my back! Here is some of my loot:
|Bulls's heart cabbage, same taste, maybe a tad milder, but oh so cute shape!|
|Shishito, Fushimi and another variety of pepper that I'm not sure about the name.|
And of course a bag of teensy fairytale eggplants. I love this particular variety for their delicate flavor and the fact they hold up to filling and simmering without getting reduced to a mush and yet, melt in your mouth with minuscule resistance. These eggplants make their appearance so briefly at this time of the year, that I invariably make them in one single way, filled with a mix of Peanut butter, coconut & spices.
This year I decided to deviate slightly and use Tahini instead of peanut butter. It has a much milder flavor and its definitely lighter compared to the tongue gluing tackiness of PB. The spices I used were Anjali's Malwani Masala and a classic tempering of mustard and curry leaves. (Apparently Yotam Ottolenghi seems to have latched on to that flavor pairing of late)!
Tahini and coconut stuffed fairytale eggplants
~ 25 small Fairytale eggplants
2 large onions cut into quarters and thinly sliced
1 cup diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon mustard
1 sprig curry leaves
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
a pinch of asafetida
For the filling:
1/2 cup Tahini
1 tablespoon 'Malwani' Masala
1/2 cup shredded coconut
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon dried Mango Powder (aamchur)
Combine all the ingredients for the filling and set aside.
Using a sharp paring knife, make a crosswise slit at the bottom of each eggplant, taking care not to cut all the way through. soak in acidulated water until you're ready to stuff the eggplants.
Shake off excess moisture from the eggplants and wipe dry with a paper towel individually just before filling. Using a spatula, gently fill the eggplants with the tahini/spice blend mixture and stack on a platter. Reserve any remaining spice blend.
Heat oil in a skillet and add the mustard seeds. once they pop, add the torn curry leaves followed by the asafetida. Once the curry leaves crisp up, add the onions and saute until they turn translucent. Add the tomatoes along with the turmeric and extra spice blend mix. Allow the tomatoes to soften (you may want to adjust for salt at this stage, since the spice blend has just enough to cover the eggplants). Then gently place the stuffed eggplants over the tomato/onions, cover, lower the heat and allow to simmer gently until the eggplants are cooked through.
Serve hot with fresh rotis or naans.
Serve hot with fresh rotis or naans.