The clue is in the name of the blog; One man’s Meat. The women who tried to get me off the case are my eldest daughter and Linda Booth. Eldest got me a wonderful present of an Indian cookery course at Linda’s excellent Dublin Cookery School. I had a great day at the school, learning lots of new things and cooking some truly delicious Indian meals. For me, the absolute stand-out dish of the day was this recipe for stuffed aubergine (eggplant). It might just get me away from meat for a while. If every vegetarian dish was as flavourful as this, I might just give up the meat altogether. The only thing stopping me is the blog. I just couldn’t bear to be the author of “One Man’s Cabbage” or anything like it. Nice try ladies but no.
In deference to Linda, I will not follow her recipe exactly (as I didn’t do so when I prepared this). Linda is a professional and gives exact measurements. I am a hacker and make it up a bit as I go along. However, this is a pretty forgiving recipe and is well worth preparing.
Ingredients (for a main course for two)
- 3 aubergines
- 2 or 3 day old boiled potatoes
- 1 teaspoon of turmeric
- 1 teaspoon of chilli powder
- 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
- 1 green chilli
- 2 cm of fresh ginger
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 handful of coriander (cilantro)
- Polenta flour for dusting
Firstly, cut the aubergines into rings, about 3 cm deep. They are a very tactile vegetable and are nice to work.
Cut the centres out of the rings, leaving a deep enough edge for later stuffing.
Slice the centre pieces into small cubes and sprinkle with salt. This is to extract some of the moisture from the ‘meat’ of the aubergine.
Leave the aubergines to sweat while you grate the potato. Use the coarsest side of a standard grater (or the greater side of a lesser grater). Also, chop up the ginger, garlic and chilli into small pieces.
Heat a frying pan to medium hot. Add the cumin seeds and stir them around to prevent burning. Add the garlic. As soon as the garlic aroma arises, add the chopped chilli and chopped ginger. Add the chopped aubergine, turmeric and chilli powder.
Side note on turmeric; Try to not get the turmeric on your fingers. It leaves pretty indelible stains. You will look as if you have a 40-a-day habit.
Cook over a medium heat until the aubergine has softened but not lost all it’s shape.
Add the grated potato and stir to combine. Chop and add the coriander. It’s good to chop herbs at the last possible minute. That way, you get the best of their flavours. Turn this onto a plate and let it cool. Once the mix is cool, pack it into the rings. Don’t get any ideas about stretching to to fill all the rings. If you do, you will have a bit of a disaster on your hands when it comes to frying them.
Dust the packed rings in polenta. This gives a nice crust to the exterior of the lovely soft aubergine.
Stick a small knife into the flesh of the rings. This is to help them cook through.
Fry the rings, in a little oil, over a medium heat. Turn them pretty regularly to prevent burning and to ensure they cook through. The frying aromas could convince one that a vegetarian future lies ahead.
Drain on old newspaper or kitchen paper. I served mine with a lovely sauce of my own making. I added two teaspoons of wholegrain mustard to 200ml of natural yoghurt. It was pretty perfect.
The conspiracy (if I can call it such) between daughter and Linda opened my eyes further to the delights of both Indian cooking and vegetarian meals. I will do more of both, I promise. However, I won’t be giving up the meat just yet….
Linda’s Dublin Cookery School website is here.
Footnote on payment; For the record, no money or payment of any sort changed turmeric stained hands. Linda is a nice person doing great work. I like to try to recognise such stuff when the opportunity arises. Eldest daughter doesn’t need me to say any more nice things about her.