From time to time we fall into a rut. I think everyone does, whether it's a food rut, an exercise rut, an occupation rut, etc. There are certain ingredients we always have in the apartment and that we use with abandon because we are so comfortable with them. But most of the ingredients in this meal did not fall into that category. This meal was so different from anything else we have made in recent memory that I think it completely blew any rut we might have been in right out of the water. I'm not sure exactly what drew me to these two recipes, except that I was thinking that I have been neglecting a bunch of my cookbooks recently. While we use Hot Sour Salty Sweet quite often, we rarely use this cookbook, Mangoes and Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent. Both books are by the same authors, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid and both are fantastic, but while Hot Sour Salty Sweet is right in our Asian wheelhouse, the recipes in Mangoes and Curry Leaves are not. One problem with the recipes is that they often require a number of Indian, Nepalese or Sri Lankan ingredients that we don't have in the apartment. I'm not even sure if or where I can find some of the ingredients. Unfortunately that knocks out a lot of recipes. Luckily I happened to have everything we needed (or I knew where to find it) for these two recipes.
I can't think of enough good things to say about the Andhra Spiced Eggplant, which both Alex and I were fairly blown away by. The flavor combination is just so unique and wonderful. I really thought that the eggplant would be spicy, but somehow all of the flavors really melded together to create a very nice savory dish with great depth of flavor. The recipe recommends serving the eggplant as a dip for chapatis/pita or serving with white rice. We happened to have some frozen parathas that we served with the eggplant dip and the buttery, flaky parathas worked really well but I'm sure that chapatis/pita would be an equally good combination. I will definitely be serving this one again in the future. As for the eggs, I thought they were nice too. We both preferred the eggplant, but I was very happy with the eggs. I don't generally like cooked tomatoes (I love them raw, but I don't like the mushy texture when you cook them), but they really worked in these eggs, which is something I never thought I would say. Scrambled eggs and tomatoes are a very typical homestyle Chinese dish that they used to serve in China all the time that I avoided like the plague. But it was good!
Recipes after the jump!
Andhra Spiced Eggplant
Mangoes and Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent
By Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
4 medium-long purple Asian eggplants (about 1 1/2 lbs)
about 1/2 cup raw sesame oil or vegetable oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp minced garlic or garlic mashed to a paste
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin seeds, crushed or coarsely chopped
2 tbsp minced green cayenne chilis, or to taste
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp minced shallots
about 1/4 cup cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven 450 degrees F or heat a charcoal or gas grill.
Lightly rub the eggplant all over with oil and prick each one about ten times all over with a fork. If using an oven, place the eggplant on a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan and bake in the center of the oven until the skin is brown and the flesh is softened, about 45 minutes. If using a grill, grill, turning often, until thoroughly softened. Don't worry if the skin is charred. Set eggplant aside to cool.
Heat 1/4 cup oil in a wok or a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Toss in the onion, garlic, cayenne, turmeric, and cumin and stir to mix well. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is well softened and translucent but not browned, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the eggplant in half and scrape the pulp from the skin. Place in a bowl, discard the skin, and mash well with a fork. Set aside by your stove top.
Add the chilis to the onion mixture and stir-fry for about a minute. Add eggplant pulp and salt and stir-fry for several minutes more, using your spatula to blend ingredients together.
Just before serving, stir in the minced shallots and stir-fry for about 1 minute. Turn out into a bowl and sprinkle on some cilantro, if desired.
Serve with chapatis or pitas (we served with parathas because that was what we had).
Andhra Scrambled Eggs Mangoes and Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent
By Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
4-5 large or extra-large eggs
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp raw sesame oil or vegetable oil
1 cup chopped shallots
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
2 green cayenne chilis, seeded and minced
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
Beat the eggs lightly in a bowl, and whisk or stir in the salt.
Heat a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and when it is hot, add shallots, ginger, garlic, chilis and turmeric and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and fry for 2-3 minutes, until they are softened.
Add the eggs and swirl and tilt the skillet to distribute. Using a flat wooden spoon or spatula, toss the eggs with the shallots and tomatoes, cooking the eggs while getting everything well mixed. Then continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes, until the eggs are well-cooked. Turn out onto a flat plate to serve, garnished with cilantro.