After the kids arrived, stealing 10 minutes alone, sipping my tea and poring over the pictures in cookbooks just for the pleasure of it, has become somewhat of a challenge (and a secret indulgence when I can manage it).
I have very few cookbooks at home despite the fact that I love to cook. Being more of an intuitive cook with a passion for experimenting with cuisines from around the world, I rarely follow a recipe to the letter, opting to be daring (or foolish) with the spice combinations and ethnic ingredients. This is a boon and a curse as Mr. Monk would say.
Baking fails miserably when I take Epicurean licences with the tried-and-tested recipes, but, many other interesting dishes have come out of this incurable urge to deviate from the prescribed that it has been worthwhile.
It is no secret that I love eggplant, and it is quite possibly the most showcased fruit here at Delectable Victuals.
Many dishes were inspired by Greg and Lucy Malouf's Moorish which I have shared here before.
Here is yet another eggplant dish with North African flavors, cooked two ways:
- Inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi's Chermoula Aubergine (as the main course)
- Inspired by Greg and Lucy Malouf's Eggplant and Feta Stir-fry (as a side dish)
As I had some preserved lemons handy, I did take liberties with the Chermoula formula.
1 Tbsp cumin powder
2 Tbsp coriander powder
2 Tbsp sweet paprika powder
1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp chopped garlic
1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
4 to 6 dry red chilies (I used the dry Thai chilies from home-garden)
1 wedge of preserved lemon (optional)
4 Tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and grind to a smooth paste. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 6 months.
For the Chermoula Aubergine à la Ottolenghi
I followed the recipe as close as I can, except of course, I used the chermoula paste as above. It might be a sacrilege in some books to tamper with a master's recipe. But, as all fantastic cooks say, adapt and personalize recipes to your taste.
For the bulghur, since I am not fond of raisins/sultanas, I used dried cranberries; used walnuts along with almonds; used chopped celery leaves and dried mint for flavoring; plus finely chopped jalapenos (seeded).
For the Chermoula Eggplant Stir-fry
1 large globe or black beauty eggplant cut into even-sized chunks
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
4 to 6 tablespoons of chermoula paste
salt to taste
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ cup diced feta (or crumble on top if preferred)
- Heat the olive oil in a pan large enough to hold the eggplant in a single layer; add the onions and saute till soft
- Add half the chermoula paste and stir-fry till aromatic; bring the onions plus chermoula to the center of the pan to make room for eggplant
- Add the eggplant chunks around the sides, sprinkle some salt, add the rest of the chermoula paste, cover and cook till eggplant is done, stirring once in a while to ensure even cooking
- Off heat fold in the feta, or crumble it on top; serve warm with flat breads like naan or paratha; or with fragrant rice and tzaziki on the side