This past weekend, I was at a potluck and had one of the most delicious eggplant dishes that I had ever tried. I immediately had to ask where the recipe was from and lucky for me, it was sitting in Jerusalem, one of my favourite cookbooks. I couldn’t believe that I had overlooked the recipe, but when I found it in my book later that night, I wasn’t too surprised. It was one of the few recipes in his book without an accompanying picture. I am so drawn in by Ottolenghi’s gorgeous photographs that I can’t help but skim over those that are unlucky enough not to have a stunning, colourful, full page photograph right next to it. Either way, I knew I wanted to make the recipe as soon as possible but to make it a full meal, I decided to make eggplant and mango salad rolls for a little twist on a classic.
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.
I’ve been feeling in a bit of a recipe slump these days. Even though our trip to Hawaii inspired me in a couple of very tasty ways, the dishes were not in the main meal department. Instead, since we’ve been back, I’ve been turning to my favourite tried and true recipes instead of trying new things. All of this is totally normal and fine, except when you are trying to run a food blog. Luckily, last week I had a meeting right next to a very large Asian supermarket and I decided to stop in for a couple of things that we can’t normally get our hands on. While perusing the produce aisle, I saw some fresh lime leaves, which I have never used before. Needless to say, they made me very excited and I knew my slump was over (for now).
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.