Friday, October 23, 2009
I received a recipe for Eggplant from a high school friend recently: "Eggplant Cooked in the Pickling Style" by Madhur Jaffrey. After trying it, I was so inspired by the flavor and the combination of spices, that I decided to take them and a few other ingredients and create a casserole recipe to maximize the full meal effect....meat and veggies all in one. I didn't expect it to turn out so well, but my family and I could not get enough of it. The satisfying feeling this combination of ingredients gives the body creates a cry for more, more, more. I wish I was exaggerating here, but I myself, despite having a very small appetite, could not get enough of it. We had leftovers and used them in soft warm tortillas, and in ordinary sandwiches serving up a delightful change for the palette.
Thank you Leigh for inspiring me. Following the Casserole recipe is Leigh's Eggplant recipe taken from "Madhur Jaffrey's, Indian Cooking" cookbook. I hope you are able to try them both; they are truly delightful!
EGGPLANT LAMB CASSEROLE
2-3 (more is better!) medium size eggplant, cap cut off, cut into slices or wedges about 1/2 inch thick and about 2 inches long
1 tsp whole fennel seeds
1 med sized onion chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped (I often use the pre-chopped jar version, 2-4 tsp)
1 inch cube of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped (I use 2 tsp of the pre-chopped jar version sold in the produce department)
3 med tomatoes chopped
1 tsp ground cumin powder
1 Tbs ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
8 oz sliced mushrooms (optional)
15 oz can tomato sauce
1 1/2 lbs ground lamb (may substitute ground beef or buffalo)
Combine cheese in a bowl:
1 cup smoked Gouda cheese, shredded
1 cup Pecorino-Romano or Parmesan cheese, shredded--bit more, if you like, for topping
Place single (it’s okay to overlap) layers of eggplant on cookie sheets coated with a few tablespoonfuls of olive oil, sprinkle with salt. Bake in preheated oven at 425 degrees F. Roast until fork-tender and brown, keep a close watch so as not to burn. Flip eggplant halfway through cooking process. (You will have more than one pan of eggplants in the oven at one time, be sure to alternate them on the racks while roasting.) Remove when cooked through and set aside.
On the stovetop: Heat skillet with 2-3 tablesponfuls olive oil, add fennel seeds and heat til toasted, add onions, garlic, ginger and cook until onion is transparent, add tomatoes and remaining spices (cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne). Cook until well blended and all cooked through. (Mushrooms are added to this mixture when adding spices, cook briefly, al dente, so to speak.) Stir in tomato sauce and remove from heat.
In separate skillet, brown lamb, turn and chop into smaller bits as it cooks. Remove from heat. Drain off oil.
Assemble: In a 9x13 inch baking dish, sides and bottom sprayed with oil, layer ingredients: 1/2 of eggplant, then 1/2 of the meat, then 1/2 of the onion mixture, top with 1/2 cheese mixture, and repeat. (I like a good bit of Pecorino-Romano cheese shredded for the topping, bit less of the Gouda---makes a good crunchy crust.)
Bake approximately 40 minutes, until bubbly, but not burnt!
This is delicious served over spaghetti squash, brown rice, couscous...or eaten alone.
ENJOY! This just gets better and better as leftovers!
Leigh's Eggplant from Madhur Jaffrey's "Indian Cooking":
Eggplant Cooked in the Pickling Style
1 inch cube of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
6 large cloves garlic, peeled
¼ cup water
1 ¾ lb eggplant (1 larger or 2 small)
1 ½ cups vegetable oil
1 tsp whole fennel seeds
½ tsp kalonji or whole cumin seeds (kalonji are black mustard seeds, you find them an Indian groceries)
3 medium tomatoes peeled and finely chopped (canned work well also)
1 Tbs ground coriander seeds
¼ tsp ground turmeric
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 ¼ tsp salt
Put the ginger and garlic into an electric blender. Add ¼ cup of water and blend until fairly smooth.
Cut the eggplant into slices or wedges that are ¾ inch thick and about 1 1/2- 2 inches long. Set a sieve over a bowl.
Heat ½ cup of oil in a deep, 10-12 inch frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot, put in as many eggplant slices as the pan will hold in a single layer. Let them turn a reddish-brown color. Turn them over and brown the opposite sides. Remove the slices and put them in the sieve. Add another ½ cup oil to the pan and heat it. Continue browning all the eggplant until done. (Note, I have fried the eggplant and it soaks up a lot of oil. To make the dish a little healthier I now roast the eggplant in the oven. Cut the eggplant as directed, heat oven to 425. Spray so baking sheets with cooking spray and make a single layer of eggplant. Brush top of egg plant with a little oil. Roast for about 15-20 minutes)
Let the eggplant drain for about an hour to get rid of the excess oil.
Put 2 Tbs of oil in the frying pan and heat it over medium flame. When hot, put in the fennel seeds and kalonji. As soon as the fennel seeds turn a few shades darker (this takes just a few seconds), put in the chopped tomato, the ginger-garlic mixture, coriander, turmeric, cayenne and salt. Stir and cook for 5-6
This is a great side or vegetarian dish! Enjoy.