Eggplant, Chickpea and Mushroom Pilaf with Toasted Almond Flakes

SAMSUNG CSC

I keep complaining how hard it is to get really good Indian food in Berlin. Sometimes I need to eat a plate of Indian food that is  vibrant with the complex flavours of fresh, whole spices. That is hard to find here so I have to cook it myself. I like this dish because, although it is rice based, it is light and  not at all stodgy. Use the best basmati rice that you can afford and rinse it well before use then be very careful to cook it lightly as it can turn to mush easily. Both eggplant and mushroom have good, strong texture and hold their flavour well. The toasted almonds add extra flavour and texture. It is really important to use fresh, whole spices, powder is just not the same in this dish.

Ingredients 

Serves 4

1 large onion thinly sliced

Half an eggplant cut int thin half moons

200g mushrooms cut into thick slices

2 medium tomatoes chopped finely

2 cloves of garlic, a whole green chili and a thumbnail sized piece of fresh ginger ground to a pulp

250g basmati rice rinsed

1 tin of chickpeas

1 teaspoon each of cumin seeds, fennel seeds and black mustard seeds

1 piece of cinnamon stick

2 black cardamom pods

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons of toasted almond flakes or slivers

A large handful of fresh coriander

Salt and pepper to taste

Fry the onions gently in half of the oil until they are dark brown but not burnt. In a separate pan fry the eggplant and mushrooms in the rest of the oil. Toast all of the whole spices in a small dry pan but be careful not to burn them. Then combine them together with the chili, garlic, ginger paste, rice, onions, eggplant, mushrooms, chickpeas and tomatoes in a larger pan. Add just enough water to barely cover the rice and season. Bring slowly to the boil and  cover tightly with some foil before putting on the lid. Turn to a very low simmer until the rice is about two thirds cooked. Do not stir during this time.This will take about 15 minutes. Then turn off the heat and leave with the lid on tight for a further 5 minutes. Turn out onto a plate and liberally garnish with almonds and coriander.

Advertisements

Baba Ganoush with Pomegranate

SAMSUNG CSC

When we lived in Cairo, Baba Ganoush was definitely my favourite Egyptian dish. I never could take to the Fuul Medames though. I love the silky, smoothness of this dip and the sweetness and crunchiness that the pomegranates add. Pomegranates have just started coming into the shops in Berlin now that the summer is over and the aubergines available at the moment are huge, so this is dish is very in season. Pomegranates are so good for you. I intend to use them as much as possible in the coming weeks and months.

Makes a small bowlful
Total preparation time 10 minutes
Cooking time 30 minutes

Ingredients
A very large aubergine
A tablespoon of olive oil
A teaspoon of tahini
A quarter clove of garlic
A teaspoon of lemon juice
A few leaves of fresh coriander
Two teaspoons of pomegranate juice and seeds
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the aubergine in half lengthways and place on a baking tray. Dry roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until the flesh is very soft inside. Leave to cool then remove the skin and discard. Place the flesh of the aubergine and all the other ingredients, except the pomegranate into a blender and blend until smooth. Adjust the seasoning and then spoon into a small bowl. Garnish with fresh coriander, olive oil and the pomegranate.

Melting Aubergine and Almond Spaghetti

SAMSUNG CSC

Aubergines are at the peak of their season at the moment in Europe. They can be hard to love if they are not cooked well though as undercooked they are rubbery and nasty. In this recipe, I slice them very finely so that by the time the sauce is cooked, they are silky and melting.

This is another dish that I enrich with ground almonds for texture and protein. They make the dish feel really luxurious but for extra creaminess, you can also add a little soya cream.

Serves 4
30 minutes total preparation and cooking

Ingredients
A large aubergine finely sliced
A tablespoon of olive oil
A crushed clove of garlic
3 large, ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
Half a tin of cannellini or other white beans
A good tablespoon of red vegan pesto
2 tablespoons of white wine
Dried or fresh herbs-marjoram, oregano or thyme work best
A tablespoon of soya cream (optional)
A handful of almonds finely ground
Salt and pepper to taste
500g of whole wheat spaghetti cooked al dente

Gently heat the oil and sweat the aubergines for about five minutes before adding the garlic and tomatoes. Cook for a further five minutes uncovered then add the beans pesto, wine and herbs. Simmer with the lid on for about 15 minutes until the aubergines are melting and the sauce has come together. Add the ground almonds and soya cream and stir through while still on the heat. Season the sauce to taste. Meanwhile cook the spaghetti. Combine the sauce and paste and stir through to ensure all the pasta is coated.

Chana Dahl and Purple Aubergine

SAMSUNG CSC

Dahl is my favourite comfort food as well as a well-loved, dinner party dish but I also eat it when I am feeling the need for something plain. Dahls can be made richer with the addition of coconut milk, grated coconut or ground almonds or made simple and cleansing like this recipe. Chana dahl or just red split lentils are my favourite for a simple dahl dish like this. Chana dahl are split chick peas.

Ingredients

3 big handfuls of dried chana dahl

Half a large onion thinly sliced

Two cloves of garlic crushed

A thumbnail sized piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped

3 fresh chillis

3 large tomatoes

A teaspoon each of ground coriander, ground garam masala and ground cumin

Half a teaspoon of ground tumeric

Half a teaspoon each of black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds

A medium aubergine chopped

A tablespoon of oil.

2 handfuls of fresh coriander finely chopped.

Salt to taste

Cook the chana dahl in plenty of water until it is still a little firm. This should take 20-25 minutes. Drain most of the liquid and set aside. Meanwhile add oil to the pan and cook the onion slices slowly until they are soft and caramelised. Add the aubergines with a little more oil and cover the pan for 5 minutes to allow them to soften slightly. Toast the ground and whole spices and add to the pan.

In a blender blitz the tomatoes, garlic and chilli together with   3-4 tablespoons of the dahl and the dahl liquid. Add this mixture to the pan, followed by the rest of the dahl. Add salt and a large handful of the fresh coriander and 100ml of water. Bring to the boil and simmer with the lid on the pan for around 30-40 minutes . During cooking, check whether more water is needed. When cooked the aubergine should be melting and the dahl soft but not mushy. Stir in the remaining fresh coriander.