An Undefined Relationship

>> Saturday, 15 September 2007

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This past week, I’ve seen some of my blogger friends, here and here, singing the praises of the eggplant. Words such as elegant, royal and yes, sexy were used to describe this (fruit) vegetable.

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As for me, my relationship with eggplants has been fraught with feelings of hatred, frustration and, and, wait for it – moments of selective loving! All this has led to the title of this week’s column and this post: An Undefined Relationship. And so the column begins: “If I said to you that I don’t like something and that I can only eat it cooked 3 ways and yet I purchase it every week at the market, you’d have to conclude that I really do like it wouldn’t you? If you know the answer, tell me because I’m not sure.” You can click here to read the column in its entirety.

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To date, there are only 3 ways I’d eat eggplants, also known to us as bolangers, bigan and aubergines. First as a choka: stuffed with slivers of garlic throughout, fire roasted and mashed. To this mixture is added, fire roasted tomatoes and seasoned with green onions, hot chilies, salt and a drizzle of oil. Some of you may recognize this dish by another name and with perhaps a few added ingredients as bigan bharta.

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Second, I like to have eggplants as a dry curry, an inspiration I got from here and adapted to suit my taste.

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And finally, I eat eggplants as biganee – thinly sliced eggplants coasted in a spicy split-pea mixture and fried. The biganee is traditionally served with a green mango sour, chutney or achar.

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You may ask why only these 3 ways. In the first 2 instances, it is all about the flavour the fire roasting imparts and the almost pureed texture. In the case of the biganee, the slices are then and the split-peas batter and along with the sour, chutney or achar, masks the notion that eggplants are involved :)

Last week, I saw this recipe for Eggplant Croquettes on Chris of Mele Cotte. I made them and in no time they disappeared from the table. Delicious. Instead of baking the eggplants in the oven, you guessed it, I fire-roasted them. As delicious as this is, it is still a little too much eggplant for me so I can’t have more than one at a time but let me tell you, people who love eggplants – this is a must-have, must-try dish. I served mine with a green mango chutney.

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