Sunday, March 11, 2018

Kashmiri Eggplant And Apples, A Simple Dish For A Cold Spring Day.

   Living in Sonoma, Indian markets are few and far between. As as result I grow a lot of my own produce, and spices, but that's only good for a certain part of the year. In the winter we turn over the soil and let things go fallow before we fertilize and renew for the spring. That's when I have to go hunting for the things I need for cooking.  One of my favorite shopping spots is a Cambodian market in Santa Rosa, Phenom Phen. Since a great many of my favorite dishes are  from South Indian cuisine I find a lot of the vegetables and items that I need are available there. The only catch is, this market is about a 50 mile round trip for me, so I'm not there that often. When I do go, I take advantage of everything I can get. Their selection is amazing, and as Maude Lebowski would say, very very thorough.

The other day I made my run to Santa Rosa, and they had just gotten in a whole load of fresh produce including my favorite Indian eggplants. I bought a bunch and brought them home.

   One dish I hadn't made in a long time is a very very simple, mild Kashmiri dish from the north called Tsoont Vaangan aka Eggplants with Apples.This is a recipe from Mrs. Manohar Nath Kaul. I love this dish on working weekdays when I'm always looking for simple, easy, and quick recipes for lunch. With only a few ingredients, this is nearly as simple as it gets.
   The only ingredient that you may not have readily available is Hing also known as Asafoetida powder, however I've found it in some non-Indian markets in the spice section. This is a very powerful, truffle-like spice, made from a Rhizome and is often used in Indian dishes (sometimes for religious purposes) as a substitute for onions or garlic. It smells strong before cooking but when cooked has a garlicky or truffle like flavor. It's great in potato dishes. One only needs a tiny bit of hing so one small jar goes a loooong way.

Eggplants and Apples


Here's What You Need:

1 and 1/4 pound eggplant (I used the small Indian eggplant, but any eggplant will do as long as it's cut to proper size)
2  Granny Smith apples
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp ground fennel seeds
1/4 tsp Kashmiri chili powder or cayenne
6 Tbs vegetable oil (I use coconut oil)
1/8 tsp hing

Here's What To do:

Cut the eggplants into 3/4 inch thick slices on the diagonal. If you've got a big eggplant, halve and quarter it so the pieces are the correct size for cooking.

Cut the apples into wedges, don't peel them.

Grind your fennel seeds in a mortar or spice grinder.

Take the ground fennel seeds and mix them with the turmeric, salt, and chili powder. Stir in 1 Tbs of water and mix to a paste.

Set the paste aside.
Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet or kadhai, when it's hot toss in the hing powder and then the apple wedges.

Brown the apples lightly on all sides, then remove them with a slotted spoon and set them aside.

Put the eggplant slices into the same oil and brown them on both sides.

You may have to do this in batches. As the slices brown, take them out with a slotted spoon and put them with the apples.
When everything has been browned, put the apples and eggplants back into the pan together.

Pour the spice paste into the pan with them and stir gently.

Turn the heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes. Turn the apple and eggplant pieces over gently to coat them and make sure you don't break them.

Lift them out of the pan with a slotted spoon and serve them up.

   This is a very clean and simple dish with a delicate flavor, just right for  a day when you don't want to spend hours in the kitchen. It's also vegan, and gluten free. Coming up next more Indian seasonal specials. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori  

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