Wendy, here, still guest posting while Jean continues to gallivant through France and its vast culinary landscape. I know we are all looking forward to her stories of food in France. In the meantime, we in St. Louis have been blessed with some beautiful weather which makes cooking often more enjoyable than those overheated days in August. And yes, despite the title of this post – I am well aware of the fact that we are looking at Monday in the rearview mirror. But another one is coming soon.
I don’t know if you are trying this or not – but I have been working on that idea of eating more vegetables and having more meatless Mondays. Okay, sometimes they come on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, but nonetheless I am often on the lookout for recipes that seem like they would be a filling main course without the addition of meat. This one has been a winner.
Melissa Clark, of the New York Times, writes approachable recipes and has some great videos posted on line that are helpful when you aren’t quite sure what the directions mean and you want to watch another cook in action. I have made this recipe multiple times and can vouch for it having good flavors and being quite filling. I think what really makes the recipe is the spice profile.
This one comes with a recipe and a video. And by the way, you can sign up for the New York Times cooking site and the app, for free. http://cooking.nytimes.com/. With 17,000 recipes – and you can save those that you like for future use – you will never run out of cooking options.
One of the other great things about this recipe is that it is just perfect for this time of year when we still have an abundance of summer vegetables – eggplants and tomatoes being the stars of this one. It also calls for mint chutney at the finish and some plain yogurt. If it seems like too much trouble to make the chutney you can skip it – or if you prefer you can make it with parsley or cilantro; but now I am getting ahead of myself.
The key flavor add-on element is garam masala. According to Epicurious, garam masala is the Indian equivalent of herbs de Provence, or the Chinese five spice powder. The mixture changes based upon where you are in India, but it typically contains black and white pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace cardamom, bay leaf and cumin. Of course you can make your own – but I just run over to Penzey’s and buy a small jar. Leave it to say that it is aromatic, complex and exotic. I often think of chick peas as being a relatively dull blank canvas – but when you coat them in garam masala they suddenly seem far more exciting.
Fried Eggplant with Chickpeas
- 2 pounds baby or small Italian eggplant, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
- Fine sea salt, as needed
- 3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
- 1 large white onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 ½ teaspoons garam masala
- ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne
- 1 pound ripe tomatoes, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1 ¾ cups (one 15-ounce can) cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed, if canned
The first thing to do is slice and fry the eggplant – which is easiest if you are using those long skinny ones; but you can cut the bigger ones in half or quarter pieces to cook. When they are browned, set them aside.
Next comes the onion and the tomatoes, and you will want to add the spices. The chickpeas are added and then your already prepared eggplant. Let the flavors marry for a few minutes – and then you are ready.
She suggests using rice or naan bread to make a full meal, but I just made an extra vegetable/salad side dish and I was ready.
- 1 cup mint leaves
- 1 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems
- 1 serrano or jalapeño pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
- 1 scallion, cut into 1-inch lengths
- 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice, more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt, more to taste
- Plain yogurt, for serving (optional)
I can vouch for the fact that this tastes delicious when it’s served and equally so the next day as leftovers.