As I mentioned in my previous post, a few weeks ago my friend came over and we cooked an Indian feast for 16 people. While I was happy to have everyone over, I was mostly interested in learning about how to make tons of different dishes from my friend who is an expert Indian cook. Although she would probably disagree with me, there is a knack that you have to have with spices and balancing flavours to be able to cook like she does. While I might have that knack with different cuisines, I can’t tell you how excited I was at the prospect of some of her skill rubbing off on me over the course of the day. Although we didn’t measure anything, throwing spices, tasting and adjusting as we went (totally my style of cooking when it’s not for this space!), I took some notes as we cooked so that I would remember the base flavours of every dish. There are some pictures of most of the dishes we cooked, below, but I am sharing the recipe for only one of them today. It’s taken me until now to finally recreate (and accurately re-measure!) one of my favourites of the night: the ubiquitous eggplant dish, Baingan Bharta.
Over a year ago we went to Costa Rica for a couple of weeks. We didn’t know much about the food there before we went but we quickly learned that in addition to the amazing fresh fruit smoothies, fish and fried plantains, we would be eating a lot of rice and beans. If you had asked me before we went if rice and beans excited me, I would have said no. It’s not something I usually eat at home and the idea of eating them at least twice a day with every meal would not have sounded overly appealing to me. Surprisingly, the rice and beans that I had there were often very, very tasty: super flavourful without being overly spiced. Regardless, by the end of the trip, it became a running joke that the first thing I would cook for us when we got back home was rice and beans. Honestly, after 14 days of it, we weren’t going to be eating rice and beans and time soon.
Patties are a whole category of dinner recipes that I love. They are endlessly versatile. You can take whatever vegetables are hanging out in your fridge, combine it with some grains (or not) and spice it up however you choose. But it’s one of those dishes that I always have to pull up a recipe for. The worst (and far too common problem) is putting together all of your ingredients, placing some patties in the pan, and having it all fall apart (literally). While they’re usually still edible, it’s a total pain and the texture is all wrong. That’s why having this broccoli and quinoa patty recipe in my back pocket is so important.
I never used to keep couscous in the house. Not for any reason in particular, it was just never on my radar. Now that I am playing around with it, I am realizing how much a grain can inspire different flavours. I definitely don’t usually use spices like cinnamon and paprika very often, but couscous calls for some middle eastern flair, so I went to my most reliably delicious Middle Eastern source, Ottolenghi. This time around I wanted to pair couscous with some mini eggplants, that I bought, once again, because they were so cute. While I realize this is not the best strategy for buying food, I can’t help it. Even though it was tough to figure out a dish, I’m pretty happy that I was forced into a place that I wouldn’t have explored otherwise because it ended up being a very delicious journey.