the final product: stuffed baby eggplants, bursting with a delicious filling and covered in a rich sauce
Welcome to part 3 of the garam masala six-part series! If you’ve been following this scenario you’ll know that I’ve been using different garam masalas for different foods; if you haven’t, then, if you’re curious, please click garam masala.
This week is my garam masala that goes with vegetables. No! don’t scroll down (or worse, away), I know lots of people have an issue with this cuisine. I have too. A challenge.
My biggest challenge over the years has been to create a dish for the vegetarians who come to my restaurant that not only tastes good but also looks really delicious!
Then comes another challenge, it should have no onions or garlic but still taste good and look superb!
Why no onions or garlic? Because, in keeping with the Jain tradition, onions and garlic are omitted. Plants that grow beneath the soil aren’t eaten. “Amazing!”, I hear you cry, “you can make a meal fit for a king without onions or garlic; but what about the flavour? what about….?” and on and on you’ll go, finishing off with the fact that you only ever cook using onions and garlic.
But before we start another challenge . . . it should have no dairy or milk products… instead of wondering what on earth to cook your son’s girlfriend who’s coming for dinner and who, your son absentmindedly tells you at the last minute, “Oh, and by the way mum, she’s vegan.” Try this dish!
People often think that vegetarian (not to mention vegan) meals are solely a plate of sad-looking vegetables served without meat. How wrong they are!
Or people think vegan cuisine is some sort of faddish macrobiotic meal that you need to go to a wholefood store to buy all the ingredients you’ve never heard of, or used before, and probably never will again.
But there must be something to the vegan diet that the Jains have been eating for thousands of years! Come see.
So, here is my version of a dish called ‘stuffed eggplant’ that the French call aubergines farces and the Italians melanzane ripieni alla Calabrese. My dish is called bharleli vangi which hails from the coastal region of Maharashtra in Western India. I assure you that once you make this, and your friends eat it, the other two will become history!! Believe you me. For a single page version of this recipe, click stuffed eggplant recipe.
What you’ll need for the filling, starting clockwise from the 12 o’clock position : salt, vegetable oil, bay leaf, ginger paste, ground turmeric, chilli powder, vegetarian garam masala, desiccated coconut, chopped tomatoes. Outside the ‘clock’: baby eggplants, chopped coriander and lemon juice”
vegetarian garam masala
You may also try this dish with baby cucumbers or baby courgettes instead of the baby eggplants!!
Trust me, cook it for a meat-eating friend who thinks vegan food is for rabbits. They will be amazed.
Happy cooking! And if any of you have any trouble, hints or anything you want to say about this dish, please let me know at the end of this blog! I’d particularly like to hear from our Jain cousins, or our vegan friends who’ve made either this, or any other, recipes and what they’ve found good about it. I’d also be amused to hear from you meat eaters out there who would usually baulk at a vegan meal and see what you think of it. So, get cooking and typing and let the feedback (no pun intended) begin!
Next week we will do a Hyderabadi version of dum ka murgh (slow-cooked chicken) using, guess what?, yes, the poultry garam masala!!
Anah Daata Sukhi Bhava!!