Wednesday, January 14, 2015

No Hassle Lunches: Aubergine Boats




"As while other passions in your life may, at some point, begin to bank their fires, the shared happiness of good homemade food can last as long as we do."
(~Jennie Ferrari-Adler)


How true: "...the shared happiness of good homemade food can last as long as we do." I can still recall our mealtimes and Mummy's delicious meals; even the occasional plain dal-roti-sabzi ones. Mummy's food was superb, but more than that the "shared happiness" infuses the memories with lasting pleasure and contentment.

It's no wonder then that I insist on good homemade meals as a constant. Yes, we do eat out too; and order home deliveries, but not often. Home food, or 'ghar ka khaana' has no match in any other fare, no matter how well-made or delicious because the happiness is short-lived and eventually dies.

No Hassle Lunches is an offering of very simple, take-what-is-there kind of unplanned, easy, and quite healthy meals. I use whatever is available in the pantry and refrigerator; supplementing things or just doing without them, to make something different. Since most of my daily meals are unplanned and I am not prone to making on the spur of the moment dashes to the market, to get exactly what I want or need, I have few choices most times. I get bored of the same flavors and fare pretty easily. And given the limited vegetables, spices and my own diet restrictions, I have to innovate and make meals I look forward to; making them and consuming them as well! I find it fun and invigorating to cook this way.

Here's a grilled eggplant/aubergine/brinjal dish I christened: Aubergine Boats


Ingredients
For the aubergine:

Tender purple Aubergines..................................2, medium large
Garlic......................................................2, big pods, minced or 4 small ones
Turmeric.................................................4 pinches
Salt to taste
EVOO a little bit


For the vegetable mix
Use whatever you fancy. I used whatever I had. There could be so many better options, with availability.

Carrots...................................................2-3, medium large, or as required, chopped small
Green onions.........................................2, chop both green and white parts, chopped small
White onion...........................................1/2, chopped small
Ginger...................................................1/2 inch, chopped into teeny-weeny bits or grated fine.
Garlic....................................................1 big clove, chopped into teeny-weeny bits
Green bell pepper.................................1/4, of a big one, chopped into small pieces
Tomato..................................................1 medium, skinned, deseeded and chopped small
Fresh mozerella....................................100gms, or a bit more. 
Green chili (Aji verde)..........................acc to taste. Seeds removed. Chopped small. I must add that I use the light green, big fleshy ones we get here. Very different from the usual Indian chillies.
Salt to taste
Red chili pwdr or flakes.......................acc to taste
Dry herb (optional)..............................oregano
Green coriander for garnish
EVOO

Rice
Basmati.................................................as required.


Halve the aubergines. Make three slits down the length.
Rub with salt, turmeric and minced garlic. Make sure to use your hands and rub the garlic well into the cuts too. Keep aside for 25 minutes.
(While these marinate, get started on the vegetables)
After 25 minutes, drizzle/spray some extra virgin olive oil and rub in well into the aubergines.




Preheat oven. Place the aubergine face up in a greased tray (tray should be on the lowest level) and grill for about 10-12 minutes.
Turn the boats face down, and grill for another 10-12 minutes. Check for tenderness. Turn over again if necessary. Cook until it is done well and a fork goes into the flesh easily. (165 degrees in gas oven)

Wash the rice and soak for about 15-20 minutes.
Heat water and add a pinch of salt. Add the drained rice. The water should be much more than the rice.
Cook uncovered until the rice is cooked. Drain out excess water. Leave rice uncovered for a minute then cover and keep aside.

Alternatively, add double the quantity of water to the rice and cook covered until rice is cooked. No need to drain water. The rice absorbs all.


To prepare the veggies: Heat about 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick pan.
Add the chopped onion and chopped ginger, green chili and garlic.
Cook, stirring now and then.
When the onions are translucent, add the carrots, bell pepper and white part of the green onion.
Stir in and add salt and red chili pwdr. Cover and cook on medium for 5 minutes, then add the chopped tomatoes.
Mix to meld.
Cover and cook to soften tomatoes and cook the veggies a bit more.
The vegetables should be cooked but not very soft. No crunch and not slushy...just right.
Now crumble the cheese and add to the veggies.
Check for salt.
The cheese will release some liquid. Continue to toss and turn gently.
When quite a bit of the liquid has evaporated, and only some remains, add the herbs and garnish. Give it a mix and remove from stove.



Before you serve the meal, make sure the rice is hot and the vegetables are hot too.
Arrange some rice in the centre of a plate. Place a grilled boat on top.



Pile on a heap of the vegetable on the boat. Now just slice into the vegetables and scoop up a spoonful of yummy. It's different and it's a great change.

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