Ever since I was in high school, I've had a fear of Indian food. I wish I could say it was inexplicable, but that's not the case at all. My reasoning is quite shameful, actually, and I hesitated sharing it with you all on my blog... but heck, I shared my weight stats with you, so why not a shameful thing from my past?
See, where I went to high school (Niles North, GO VIKINGS!) was an extremely diverse place. When I say extremely, I mean EXTREMELY. There were over 45 languages spoken, and opening the pages of our yearbook was like looking at the United Nations. I didn't realize how lucky I was to have this diversity in my life until I went to college in a very white-bread town.
Anyway, back to why Indian food scared me. There were these groups of Indian boys at my high school... not the put-together, fairly Americanized Indian boys, but recently emigrated and fairly socially awkward Indian boys. These boys, no matter what year they were in school, walked in straight lines across the hallway and frequently reeked of day-old Indian food and lack of deodorant. (I told you this was shameful). I was terrified that if I ate Indian food, I would also smell of this B.O. and old curry... I know, it's terrible and closed-minded of me, and once I met Adam, he convinced me to "just try it." Try it I did, and I now LOVE the stuff! I can't believe I lived my life without chicken tikka, naan, roti, dal... sigh...
More recently, thanks to the lovely Gina and Rose, I've been encouraged to try more adventurous dishes like Channa Masala and Baigan Bharta. I've recently fallen in love with Gina's favorite, baigan bharta, and my habit has been getting expensive. I scoured the internet for the most authentic recipe I could find, and found one that fit the bill...and then, in typical Mara form, I mucked with it. What I got was a deliciously spicy, amazingly delicious, decadently creamy dish that will certainly help me save with my eating out bills!
Baigan Bharta from a former Indian Food-o-phobe
1 large eggplant
2 plum tomatoes, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 c. peas
1 tsp. whole cumin seeds
2 tsp. garlic paste
2 tsp. ginger paste
1 jalapeño pepper, diced (de-ribbed and de-seeded if you want less spice)
2 Tbsp. oil (I used olive)
4 oz. plain yogurt
1 Tbsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. garam masala
juice of half a lemon
salt to taste
1/4 c. cilantro, finely chopped
Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Place your eggplant on a cookie sheet, poke with a fork for ventilation, and roast until skin is dark and eggplant is tender, about 40 minutes. Allow to cool until handleable. Meanwhile, heat a small saucepan (I used a 2.5 qt) with the oil. Add the cumin seeds and onion, and cook until onions are translucent. Then, add the tomatoes, ginger, garlic, jalapeño, curry, garam masala, and stir well, allowing to cook a few minutes. Then, halve the eggplant and scrape the flesh into the pot, breaking it up with your stirring spoon. Add the peas and yogurt, cover and cook on HIGH HEAT for about 10 minutes. Stir well, then cook covered another 10 minutes. This allows the veggies to caramelize a bit. Uncover and simmer on LOW heat for 5 minutes, then add the lemon juice. Stir well, and serve, topping with the cilantro.
Please enjoy some obsessive photos I took of this dish:
Enough of that... I just love my camera and new editing software so much! There were 9 other photos I chose not to share.
A few things to note: The yogurt is completely and totally optional. I added it because it was my first time making this dish, but next time, I may halve the amount, or omit it altogether. Also, my curry powder was a bit "off". I think the main reasons are that a) it's a bit old and b) it's from Target. I need a more authentic and less sweet-tasting curry powder for the next time I make this. The whole cumin seeds were found in the Mexican spice section for a whopping $0.99 for a fairly large bag. And, most importantly, I don't stink!
Luckily, by graduation, those Indian boys had discovered deodorant and cologne, and no longer graced my nostrils with the smell of something I hoped I'd never smell like... and now, years later, I can appreciate the labor of love that went into the food that caused that smell, and I feel terribly guilty for ever thinking the way I did!
I'll share the chili recipe I promised tomorrow... I just had to share this with you tonight! There's fun OpenSky stuff too! Get excited!
Last but not least, HAPPY BIRTHDAY LIZZ!!!!!!