Friday, September 23, 2016

Vegetarian cooking - Eggplant dishes

For this Friday's foodie talk, I'd like to talk about vegetables; eggplant to be a little more specific.
I know, vegetables aren't looked upon very favorably specially here in America. So I decided to break it up, introduce some eastern spices into the mix and present a few variety of vegetarian eggplant dishes.
1) Eggplant curry: It can be prepared in several different combinations, with potatoes and tomatoes, or bell peppers. Overcooked eggplant provides a good creamy consistency to the gravy and can be a good accompaniment to other vegetables or beans.

2) Chokha: This eggplant recipe is very similar to what we often find in middle eastern restaurants and is very popular in northern India specially during hot summer months. Its prepared by mashing up a big round grilled eggplant and adding chopped onions, tomatoes, green chilies and garlic. Garnish with some oil and salt to taste. You can find a good recipe <here> though she doesn't garnish with oil at the end.
3) Eggplant dip: This dish is definitely Mediterranean but can be called a close cousin of the Indian Chokha mentioned above since its preparation begins with grilled eggplant as well and the flavor is enhanced through olive oil, garlic and parsley. Food network has a good recipe <here>.
4) Stuffed Eggplant: This dish calls for small or thin long fresh eggplants, preferably from your local farmers market, since old eggplants can leave a scratchy feeling in your throat if you are sensitive to it. The stuffing can be made with tomato-onion paste or with ginger-garlic paste like in the above picture. Depending on your taste preference, if you search for stuffed eggplant on the internet, there is a huge list of recipes that you can follow.
5) Grilled eggplant in tomato sauce: This particular dish would be my variation on an eggplant dish to make that is most familiar to American taste-buds. Grilled eggplant (remove peel if its too hard to bite) and grilled zucchini served with marinara sauce and topped with sliced tomatoes. Its a good accompaniment for pasta as a vegetarian sauce option.
I make a few other variety of eggplant dishes that I didn't make recently and didn't get a chance to photograph them:
a) small sliced eggplant with yogurt gravy,
b) thick slices of eggplant cooked on a skillet for a Panini sandwich
c) Eggplant bharta, which is a sautéed version of the chokha and can be easily found in north Indian restaurants across the world.
d) Fritters made with sliced eggplant dipped in chickpea flour batter.
I'll share more ideas and recipes for vegetable cooking along with other gastronomic indulgences from my life, in the hope of inspiring you to try something fresh from you local farmers market.

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