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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Jackknife and Rocket Stilettos

Where I thought I may have lost it, I found Inspiration by my side again during Stiletto night..
Even my fishmonger participated, laughing with me about the live crawfish looking more like pets than a meal while a long line of customers impatiently waited their turn.
Hey, it's my evening.. anything goes!
She seemed intrigued at my determination to buy the only jackknife clams on the stall, thinking I had cooked them plenty of times and knew exactly what my results would be... then she remembered she was talking to me.. the one always trying new things in awkward ways... with piment!
I targetted jackknife clams tonight, hoping there would be some available because I've been told about them a number of times without really knowing what they tasted like or how to prepare them.  They are naughty awkward little fellows.  They are sold live and seem to drool with their tongues hanging out whenever they sense something interesting about to happen.  They are quite meaty for shellfish as opposed to a.. say.. scallop or clam, where the weight is more shell than flesh.  Here you have a 50-50 flesh to shell wight ratio.. if not 60-40, which is quite amazing.. since they are sold by the kg.
The perfect music to accompany my evening couldn't be anything else but Queen, A Day at the Races, followed by A Knight at the Opera.
Serves 1 (hey didn't I mention it's Stiletto Night?)
Ingredients
500g - 1 lb Jackknife Clams (about 25)
For pan fry:
1 extra large garlic clove, grated
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 tsp Rouille Spices (paprika, chile powder, garlic, coriander, saffron)
1 Tbsp olive oil
few cracks black pepper
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
For salad:
2 handfuls rinsed arugula (rocket)
1 small shallot, minced
1 drizzle balsamic vinegar
few sundried tomatoes from a jar
pinch fleur de sel
few cracks black pepper
drizzle walnut oil (or spray if you have it)
For the extra mile:
some Selles sur Cher raw milk asked goat cheese
some crusty "campagne" bread
Directions
1.  Place the live Jackknife Clams in some water with a tsp of coarse sea salt for about 15 to 30 minutes.  During this time they will release any sand they have trapped inside.  This step is quite crucial.. unless you enjoy grinding your teeth on some sandy goodness.
2.  Drain, rinse, and soak in fresh water for another 15 minutes just to get the last bit of sand out.  Drain and rinse again.
3.  During all the soaking waiting time, prepare the pan fry sauce.  Stir all the ingredients together in a bowl.  When the jackknife clams have finished draining, spoon this mixture into each one of them.
4.  Prepare the salad by tossing all the ingredients together.
5.  Cook the jackknives on a very hot skillet for about 5 minutes, stirring from time to time so they are evenly cooked.
Serve immediately.

For a happy ending my way, don't forget the goat cheese coarse after the "dégustation."
It is the cherry on top.   A reminder that after a blissful meal, paradise is waiting..

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Black Bean and Carrot Chili

There are no words in our languages of the world to describe the comfort this brings to me when within my edible radius...
Black beans are my favorite go-to Mexican bean, and carrots make a nice chunky meaty chili without so much of the meat.  This probably goes against "chili" rules as it is vegetarian, but I'm getting tired of calling my dinner "Beans."  As it is, this chili is a full meal with rice to avoid confusion with "soup" and various protein toppings to balance it out.  The "chili" part is also because I have whole chipotle chiles hanging around and along with my different textured toppings.  Creamy avocado, crunchy red cabbage, smokey chipotles, zesty green onions, and sour yogurt.  Ooh!
Plus, it was thick and chunky and definitely NOT soupy.
Serves 6
Ingredients
1 cup dried black beans, soaked at least 12 hours
1/2 cup pinto beans, soaked as well
2 bay leaves
1 chicken or vegetable bouillon cube
1 large chopped onion
3 large tomatoes, chopped
3 large, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, grated
1 can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, some chopped
1 chopped tomato
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground cumin
Juice from 1 lemon
1 tsp coarse sea salt
1 Tbsp cracked black pepper
5 cups water
Garnish:
shredded red cabbage
chopped cilantro
chopped green onions
shredded gruyere or swiss (optional)
diced avocado
plain yogurt (optional)
egg (optional)
Directions
1.  Put everything but the garnish in the slow cooker and set on low for 7-9 hours.  Remove bay leaves.

Serve with rice and arrange your garnish.  Sometimes I like to add an egg on top.
This comforting feeling can come and go, but nothing can compare to how a sunny side up egg makes sunlight burst through the warmth of its caress as it flows into my heart...

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Green Eggs and Mushroom Thai Stir-Fry

Tonight when inspiration became me, it created Fight Food.
I wanted spice, color, depth, and the result ended up giving me a visual surprise... I completely forgot that indigo and yellow made green...
Serves 4
Ingredients
4 eggs

3 handfuls sliced mushrooms
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1 red or green bell pepper, sliced
4 kaffir lime leaves, sliced
1 Tbsp Thai yellow curry paste
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp Sriracha sauce
chopped cilantro for garnish
thai red chile (for garnish and only if you can handle the heat)
basmati or jasmine rice to serve
Directions
1.  Heat 1 Tbsp of the the oil in a wok and crack in the eggs.  Cook 1-2 minutes, then scramble.  Finish cooking and reserve.
3.  Add the sliced mushrooms and cook until they start to release some of their juices.
4.  Add in the cabbage, carrots, bells, and lime leaves as well as the oyster sauce, sriracha, and fish sauce.  Cook stirring for about 5 minutes, adding water if too "dry."


2 handfuls shredded red cabbage
1 Tbsp oyster sauce (omit if GF)
1/4 cup water
2.  Add the  rest of the olive oil and fry the yellow curry paste until fragrant.
5.  Stir in the cooked eggs and turn off the heat.
Serve with some basmati rice and garnish with chopped cilantro and a Thai chile.. if the heat isn't enough to satisfy your spicy craving....

The eggs turning green after was an unexpected bonus.  The red cabbage releases a purple-ish juice, which, when stirred with the eggs during the last step, turns them a super-natural green color..
All Natural!

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Raclettiflette with Perfectly Steamed Potatoes

I haven't felt this feeling in a very very long time.. but today, all I wanted was some tartiflette.  Tartiflette is a traditional French casserole made with Reblechon cheese from the Savoy mountains.  It's typically eaten in the winter (unless you only visit France in the summer) and typically is what is served when you go on a ski-cation.  I don't know why, but I've always preferred making this with Raclette cheese.  Raclette is another cheese from the same region, but is usually served melted on potatoes instead of baked in a casserole.  My Raclettiflette is basically a Tartiflette, but with a different cheese.  Both ways are good, but I find Raclette cheese easier to lay into a rectangular pan.  I heard you can do this with St. Nectaire, my ultimate favorite cheese.. oooh.. tempting, but I can never  get around to cooking with that cheese since I eat most of it before my preparations can begin.
I've posted this recipe before, but it's been a while, and I've gotten better at seeking out good quality raw milk cheese.. and I've gotten better at making potatoes keep their natural taste through steaming instead of boiling.
Serves 6
Ingredients
1.5 kg (3.3 lbs) potatoes (about 10 large Bintje)
350g (12.3oz) salt-cured or smoked pork belly, sliced into bits
4 shallots, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp dried thyme
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil (just in case)
1/4 cup dry white wine
450g (1 lb) raclette cheese, sliced into 1/4" pieces (I used raw milk cheese)
4-5 Tbsp heavy cream
Directions
1.  Cook the potatoes.  To do this in the most optimal way, scrub them with the skin on, stab them a few times with a fork, then place them in the steamer basket of your pressure cooker.  Place about 1 inch of water (enough to steam but not touch the potatoes.)  Close the cooker and cook on high.  When it starts to whistle, count 15 minutes.  I cannot give measurements for any other type of steaming because I don't see any reason to use another tool for steaming potatoes.
When they are done, let the pressure drop from the cooker and open up to let cook just a touch.  When they are cool enough, peel them.  The skin should come off easily.
2.  While you are waiting for them to finish cooking or cool down, prepare the rest.  Place the sliced pork belly in a heavy based pan or wok and cook on high for a few minute until nicely colored.  Add the thyme and pepper during this part.  I was expecting the fat to render, but since this was good quality belly, the pan was quite dry.  Remove and reserve.
3.  In that same pan, add a bit of olive oil if your belly did not render any fat.  Add the shallots and cook until translucent, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
4.  Deglaze with the white wine and let simmer 2-3 minutes so the alcohol burns off.
5.  Add the cooked peeled potatoes to the mix.  Smash a bit with a potato masher.  They should smash easily.  You don't want mashed potatoes.  You want it chunky.  Mix it all well and turn off the heat.  You can preheat your oven to 200°C 400°F at this point.
6.  Assemble.  In a baking dish, place half the potato mixture in one layer.  
Spread 2 Tbsp cream over this layer.
Cover this layer with the raclette slices.
Repeat once.
7.  Bake for 30-40 minutes at 200°C 400°F.  The result should be bubbly and golden as mine is. 
8.  This is the hardest step.  Let cool at least 20 minutes before serving.  It needs time to set just a bit. If you don't wait, it will be too hot to eat anyway.
Serve with some salad.

This is the best version I've made of this so far.  A good piece of meat with good quality cheese and shallots instead of onions are the small simple changes that go a long way.
I don't indulge like this very often, so this is my coma meal of the month.. enjoy =)

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Griddled Octopus and Zucchini in December

Tonight is Stiletto night again.. meaning I'm listening to the Nirvana Unplugged album while having Poulpegasms.
That may sound a bit out of hand, but that is the exact description of my evening.  An evening alone, indoor barbecue-ing on my cast iron griddle pan some zucchini slices and octopus, smoking up the house and enjoying the music.. and its all for my sole lonely pleasure.
So no, I'm not watching Pulp Fiction in English (although next time, I SOOO will be watching Pulp Fiction in English because I just remembered that I own that DVD and it's a rare occasion I get to watch my favorite cult movies in their original version.. I mean seriously.. Austin Powers is retarded in French).  That was a very very long parentheses.
Ha.
So poulpe is octopus, and today I hit pay dirt.  I actually cooked it correctly compared to last time, although it still blew my mind that first time.  The thing that made this event such an event is that I made summer happen in December.  Yes, this is traditionally summer fare.  Zucchini is not in season (unless it comes from Spain apparently) but I really don't care.  I wanted something bbq-ish and this poulpe hit the exact spot that had been hiding from me for quite some time.
Serves 1 (yes.. didn't I mention it was Stiletto night?)
Ingredients
for boiling:
2 small fresh octopi (poulpes), cleaned
1 clove smashed garlic
1 small handful celery stalk pieces
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp chile powder
1/4 tsp coarse sea salt
3-4 cups water
for griddling:
1 zucchini, sliced lengthwise into approximately 7mm thickness
1 + 1 clove garlic, grated
few pinches fleur de sel
drizzles of chile infused olive oil (or olive oil with some pepper flakes)
pinches of ground pepper
squeezes of lemon juice
2 Tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
for garnish:
some jarred sundries tomatoes
Directions
1.  Place the smashed garlic clove, pepper, chile powder, celery, and sea salt in a pot of water and bring to a boil.  Add the fresh octopus and boil for 25 minutes.  Remove the octopi and set aside
2.  While the boiling is happening, prepare the zucchini.  Slather onto the slices 1 of the grated garlic cloves with a few pinches fleur de sel and ground pepper.  Drizzle some of the spiced olive oil onto each slice.
3.  Bust out the griddle pan (or if it's actually summer and not raining, the bbq or plancha).  Griddle the slices for about 4 minutes on each side or until the slices have grill marks, are cooked, but still have a slight crunch.  I can't technically describe this, but it is the best way to enjoy zucchini.  It makes zucchini the king of all vegetables when cooked this way.  I also had a Zucchinigasm... did I mention that?
Set aside the zucchini slices. 
4.  Once the octopus is finished boiling (and it should be nice and tender) toss with the other clove of grated garlic, some pepper, lemon juice, parsley, and more of that spiced olive oil.
5.  Slap that octopus on the griddle for about 2 minutes on each side.  Don't overdo the grilling here.  The tenderness will become tough if you lose your focus.. so FOCUS please.

Serve with some sundried tomatoes from a jar and then try to figure out a pretty way to capture all the pleasure running through your body.
I hesitated on the photo because I plated it a bunch of different ways.  In the lead photo it looks like a salad, but it was actually warm/hot and orderly at first.
See?  It's steaming.
Anyway, I ended up mixing it around to find the most pleasurable way to enjoy it and eventually came to the conclusion that the tentacles needed to be separated and the zucchini cut into sections, then all of it tossed around with the sundried tomatoes from a summery jar.
The happiest ending to this Stiletto evening would be a few scoops of that Piment d'Espelette ice cream I've been saving.
Oooh!

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Butternut Apple Cardamom Soup

Butternut season is not over yet and I'm riding that wave as long as I can.  There's no squash quite like the butternut.  It is so versatile that it pairs well with the strangest combinations.  Today I let myself be inspired by LoveandLemons, and then let myself drift into my senses to sweep myself off my feet.  I was very surprised with the outcome of this soup.. the good kind of surprised.  The one where it seems like everything will be good but that cardamom might be a touch too crazy for a non-dessert, non-Indian soup, but ends up being so good you want to make it public.  This soup could be on the menu of any fancy restaurant.  The flavors are very present, yet pure, meaning I can actually taste my mood with each spoonful.
I love it when that happens...
Serves 2-3 as a meal
Ingredients
1 butternut squash, halved
1 small sweet potato, peeled and halved
1 kohlrabi, peeled and sliced into wedges
1 apple, peeled and sliced into wedges
1 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic in their skins
enough olive oil to drizzle over the veggies before roasting
1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup water if needed
1/2 inch piece ginger, coarsely chopped
3 cardamom pods, dry roasted and ground
4 Javanese long pepper berries, ground
1/2 tsp dried piment d'espelette
some fleur de sel to taste
chopped cilantro for garnish
Directions
1.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil on all the vegetables.  On a baking sheet, place the butternut halves cut side down along with the sweet potato and kohlrabi wedges.  Bake at 200°C 400°F for 20 minutes.
2.  Turn over the butternut halves and sweet potato and add the apple wedges, onion slices, and garlic to the baking sheet.  Bake for another 20 minutes.
3.  While all that is happening, place the ginger pieces in a pot with the piment d'espelette and coconut milk.  Heat to a light simmer, then remove from heat until the roasting is finished.  The ginger will infuse the coconut milk with all its greatness while you wait.
4.  Scoop out the butternut flesh and place it in the pot with the coconut milk.  Squeeze the garlic out from its sheath and add all the rest of the roasted vegetables and apple.  Heat through and stir so the infused coconut milk coats everything.
5.  Using an immersible blender, blend everything into a soup, adding water if needed to thin it out.
6.  Stir in the ground cardamom and long pepper.  Taste and add a touch of fleur de sel if needed.

Serve garnished with some chopped cilantro.

This soup will knock your socks off.  The cardamom makes it intriguing.  It pairs so nicely with the butternut and apple.  That deep flavor aftertaste is unmatched.  The long pepper gives it a slightly smokey taste with a touch of spice and the apple gives it a pleasant PePs.  Coconut milk makes it velvety and creamy and enhances the spices.

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Roasted Roots and Apple Salad Topping

As I was piecing this meal together, I had no idea which direction I would be taking.  I started chopping the vegetables I wanted.. then added an apple.  Apples mesh well with many savory dishes. I'm only now discovering that.
Then I had to figure ou the rest.  For some unknown reason, I had started cooking some chana dal on the stove top.  I can not explain it.. I didn't even realize it until they were almost cooked.  It's as if I had a cooking absence.  Maybe the voice in my head had a different idea for dinner than the one at the tips of my fingers.  Either way, I do not waste.  I integrated it.  Aaah I shall make it into a warm salad.  And this marvelous salad topping was born.  I may have used it as a topping because it wasn't enough for a full side dish.  My voice must have known this.
The kohlrabi and apples make an interesting taste contrast to the orange fellows.  I love it and will be experimenting with this mix again.  Ooh!
Ingredients
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 kohlrabi, peeled and chopped
1 small sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp fleur de sel
few cracks black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
Directions
1.  Chop everything to approximately equal cubes.
2.  Sprinkle with the paprika, fleur de sel, and black pepper, then toss with olive oil.
3.  Arrange on a baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes at 200°C 400°F.  Everything should be nice and golden.

Use as a salad topping or even as a side dish.  I made a salad with some bite tender chana dal that was still warm with a heavy squeeze of lemon and some sautéed spinach that was equally warm.  I decided to add some feta but that is optional.

I served this with a bite of Prasopita Leek Pie and a few Marinated Sardines.

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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Baked Herring with Onions and Long Pepper

It is herring season.  There is a season for herring?
Well, yes.  You can find herring all year long, but they are the tastiest right now.  The females are full of roe and and males are full of milt.  Both are nice and plump, full of zooplankton and krill.  Forage fish such as these, sardines, mackerel, and anchovies are the most nutritious in terms of fatty acids.  Since these types of fish are most likely caught instead of farmed, they usually are not hormone fed.  Best of all, they are surprisingly part of the least expensive types of fish to buy.
I ended up with 6 females full of roe (which I later pan fried and ate with my fingers before I even snapped a shot.)
I decided to bake them.  Baking may not be the best solution if you are a first-time herring taster.  What you must know about herring is that it has very fine bones.. but a ton of them.  Baking them in this way will give you the freshest herring taste, but you have to be ready to pick the bones out of your plate.  That doesn't bother me so much, but it does bother many.  The way to make the bones dissolve is by pickling.  I may have to try that one day.
Serves 3-4
Ingredients
6 whole herrings, scaled and gutted
12 long Javanese pepper berries
juice from 1/2 lemon
drizzle olive oil
few pinches fleur de sel
few pinches piment d'espelette
small handful chopped cilantro
1 onion, sliced into moons
1 Tbsp olive oil
Directions
1.  Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a heavy based pan or wok and sautée the onions until golden.
2.  While this is happening, arrange the herring in a baking pan.  Mix together the lemon juice, fleur de sel, piment d'espelette, and olive oil.  Rub this mixture all over the outside and inside of each herring.
Place 2 long Javanese pepper berries in the cavity of each fish and top with the chopped cilantro.
Add the sautéed onions onto the prepared fish.
3.  Bake at 200°F 400°C for 15 minutes.

I served mine with some roasted carrots and a shredded red cabbage salad.

The long Javanese pepper is very important for the flavoring.  It gives it a subtle smokey flavor.. and everyone knows herring loves to be smoked.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Kadai Chole (Punjabi Chickpea Curry)

I rarely ever use normal white chickpeas in an Indian dish unless they're split chana dal.  I don't know why, because I really enjoy chickpeas.  For some reason, whole white chickpeas were always reserved for hummus, falafel, or couscous, whereas black chickpeas (kala chana) were always for Indian food.
I've made Chole Masala before, but it's probably the only other time I'e used whole white chickpeas.  Chole is very popular in Punjabi cuisine.  It comes out to play for every big event, and when done properly can really knock your socks off.  What attracted me to this recipe was the broth and the ajwain.  Usually, beans are slow-cooked in plain water and then a curry is made around them.  In this recipe, the beans are cooked in water infused with whole spices and .. what.. black tea!  I had to use black tea for lack of alma (which I've never seen with my current eyes).  I first thought it was an aesthetic aspect, but after tasting the broth before adding it to my curry, I found it sacrifices something of its inner self when transformed into this Kadai Chole.  It no longer serves its purpose as just tea, but now has become something essential in my secret box of kitchen tricks...
Borrowed from VegRecipesofIndia.
Serves 5-6
Ingredients
1 cup chickpeas, rinsed and soaked 12-24 hours
1 inch stick cinnamon
1 black cardamom
3 cloves
2 pieces alma (sub 1 black teabag)
1 Indian bay leaf
2 Tbsp oil
3-4 slit green chiles (I sliced 1 green and 1 red Moroccan chiles)
1/4 tsp ajwain seeds (carom seeds)
1 onion, minced
1/2 inch ginger, grated
4-5 cloves garlic, grated
1/2 tsp turmeric
chile powder to taste (mine didn't need it)
1 tsp garam masala
1 can tomato pulp (or 2-3 chopped tomatoes)
1 tsp amchur mango powder (or pomegranate powder)
salt to taste
plain yogurt for garnish (optional)
chopped cilantro for garnish (I didn't have any)
Directions
1.  Cook the chickpeas.  Make sure to rinse the chickpeas well and change the water 2-3 times during the soaking period.  Place the soaked chickpeas in a slow cooker with 4-5 cups water, the cinnamon stick, black cardamom, cloves, bay leaf, and alma or tea bag.  Cook on low for at least 8 hours.  You want the chickpeas to be very well cooked with little resistance when pinched between your fingers.. or smashed against the roof of your mouth with your tongue.  When done, remove the whole spices and teabag.
2.  Make the curry.  Heat the oil in a wok and add the ajwain.  Cook until fragrant.
3.  Add the sliced chiles and onions.  Cook until translucent.
4.  Add the ginger and garlic.  The raw smell of ginger should come tickle your nostrils, then leave you with a distant memory.
5.  Add the tomato, turmeric, and garam masala.  Stir and keep cooking on high.  Now is the time to decide if you are going to add the chile powder or not.  I just took a taste and decided not to, because it was already spicy enough.  Cook until it all comes together as some sort of thick paste, and oil will seep out.
6.  Add the cooked chickpeas and about half the cooking liquid.  Stir well and add the amchur.  Bring to a boil, then simmer.  It will thicken.  Add more of the cooking liquid to thin it out.  I ended up adding most of the cooking liquid.  Let simmer for about 10 minutes on low heat.
7.  Taste and add salt if needed.  Adjust the spice as well.  At this point, it was pure perfection.

Serve with basmati rice and top with some plain yogurt if you so desire.  
Do add cilantro if you have it.   I used it all and haven't replenished my supply.

This is a wonderful meal on its own, but of course, it would be perfect in a thali.  I've been in a simple state of mind lately.
The ajwain really gives this dish character.  I'd only ever used it in samosas, but it works well as a kadai seed fry base for a curry as well.  Its flavor is so distinct that I almost want to rename this Ajwain Chole.
The creaminess of the long-soaked chickpeas make this just as much of a comforting meal as it is a healthy meal.
If only it could heal all my wounds...

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Khus Khus Brinjal Curry (Poppy Seed Eggplant Curry)

I am discovering the many facets of poppy.  As a sprinkled topping on a bagel or muffin, rolled into a pastry, or used as a base for a thick rich vegan curry.  Poppy is used across the world but quite differently each time.  Not only is it used differently, but there are different types of poppy.  The blue-black is mostly used whole in Eastern European baked goods.  The white is used in Indian curries, as a topping for dhokla, and even in bhakarwadi.  The brown is used in Turkish pastries and baklava.
When soaked and ground, it becomes a luscious butter such as tahini or peanut butter.  The consistency is somewhere in between.  The one I used for this recipe is a Turkish brown poppy paste. The traditional Indian version calls for white, which is less bitter, but I just couldn't restrain myself from substituting the creamy brown paste in this eggplant curry recipe.
First of all, there is eggplant.
Second of all, eggplant is the main ingredient.
Third of all... did I mention the sensual purple lady making her decadent mid-fall appearance?
By the way, eggplant is happening.
Serves 4-5 as a side
Ingredients
1 kg (about 2 lb) brinjal or eggplant, sliced into 1/4 inch slices and then halved
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/2 inch piece ginger, grated
1 red chile, diced (I used Moroccan)
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 cups water
3 Tbsp khus khus paste (or ground poppy seeds)
1 Tbsp tamarind pulp
juice from 1 lime
1 Tbsp jaggery or cane sugar
salt to taste
chopped cilantro for garnish
slices of lime for garnish
Directions
1.  Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a wok and add half the sliced brinjals.  Cook until brown and set aside.  Repeat for the other half with 1 more Tbsp oil.
2.  In the same wok, heat the last Tbsp oil and add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and fenugreek seeds.  Cook until they start to sputter.
3.  Add the garlic, ginger, and chile.  Cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
4.  Add the poppy seed paste, turmeric, coriander, and water.  Bring to a boil, then add the grilled eggplant slices.
5.  Add the tamarind, lime juice, and sugar.  Lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the sauce thickens.  If it thickens too much, add more water.
6.  Taste and add salt if needed.  Depending on the poppy seeds you use, the curry will be more or less bitter.  Adjust the sugar and lime until it tastes like heaven.  This happens at a precise point.  It will taste strange.. and then all of a sudden, it will taste just like heaven.

Serve garnished with chopped cilantro and some more lime for your personal squeezing pleasure.
This Purple Princess curry is best accompanied by some basmati rice.  I added some roasted tandoori spiced chicken thighs to complete the thali.  Poppy seeds contain as much protein as chicken, so this can easily be a balanced vegetarian meal with dal in the thali instead of the chicken.

That purple princess has never ceased to amaze me...

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