Tagine of baby eggplants in tomato sauce; bolani with hummus – 18 July 2011

I spotted this recipe I think on the day I bought this cookbook, expecting we would like it, and I’m pleased to know that is correct. It’s easy to do, though there is a lot of pre-prep. Of course, for me that included a shopping trip, and making sauce for chilaquiles for tomorrow’s lunch, so this is probably even easier than I think right now.

Pre-prep: peel and crush garlic; slice red onion; measure and “roast” (I toasted in a small frying pan) coriander and cumin seeds, and crush them in a mortar (knock pestle onto tile floor, where it breaks 😦 ); wash and chop cilantro; pick, wash and chop mint leaves; find and open two 14oz cans of diced tomatoes without any flavorings; pick and clean two dried red peppers; and wash 16 baby eggplants.

Then it’s simple, as I said. Cook the onion and garlic in oil till colored a bit, add coriander, cumin, peppers, and sugar and cook a bit; add eggplants and coat with spice mixture; add tomatoes and cook “gently” for 40 minutes, covered.

Add cilantro and mint; cook 5 more min; serve over bulgur with yogurt and more cilantro and mint over the top. In the middle of that cooking, I also started  the “bulgur pilaf” – I cooked a cup of bulgur in a bit of oil in a medium saucepan till the microwave succeeded in boiling 2 cups of water, then added the water to the bulgur, boiled, turned to simmer, covered, and cooked about 15 minutes, perhaps a bit more. The bulgur tasted, D noted, like Wheatena. It did! So, bulgur is cracked wheat, no surprise there, but the taste similarity was unusually striking. Hm. Is Wheatena a pilaf, perhaps? Or perhaps it’s the toasting phenomenon we’re tasting? I checked on how to cook bulgur, and got the idea of making it a pilaf, from Recipes for a Small Planet, which we’ve had for about 35 years. Good food.

Though this was a very filling meal already, I had also served a lentil bolani with it as a sort of bread. I would not know what a bolani was either, but for having bought these at the Grand Lake farmers’ market. They consist of a large – maybe 10″? – circle of a bready thing, folded in half around a filling, in this case a lentil filling. I had gotten a hummus to go with it, and we had both, but – being full – decided not to finish the bolani, leaving half of it for a future meal. These bolani are really delicious, and the spreads sold by the same people are wonderful with them.

D brought up a bottle of my well-loved Valreas from Trader Joe’s; however, he detected a very slight corking of the wine. He used a technique from our friend M, who said that plastic wrap can accrete the compound that creates the cork flavor. You put the wrap into a container with the wine and leave it a bit. D was happy with his de-corked wine. I didn’t taste the corking till about the last sip, so it was not a problem for me.

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