Monday, February 28, 2005

Agua de pina y canela

Originally uploaded by suebobdavis.
I had some fresh pineapple chunks and decided to make an agua fresca on the first sunny day after a lot of rain. It turned out light gold and beautiful just like the sun outside.

I had never added spices to an agua fresca before, but I wanted something special, a nice pineapple-upside down kind of flavor.

Just a bit of really good Vietnamese cinnamon did the trick - this was refreshing but had a deeper, warmer flavor than just pineapple.

1 cup fresh pineapple chunks
3 cups cold water
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Whip in a blender until smooth.

Thai Eggplants and Peas Charchari

Thai Eggplants
Originally uploaded by suebobdavis.
Eggplants are one of the closest vegetables to being "meaty." As a vegetarian, I have learned to appreciate that kind of richness.

One of my favorite eggplant preparations is Eggplant and Peas Charchari, which requires almost no work beyond cutting the eggplants up and measuring ingredients, and you don't even have to do that. It doesn't require stirring or much attention.

I think it makes a perfect weeknight dinner after I drag myself home from work.

One caveat about these Thai eggplants, and the little purple Indian ones, too -- they are seedy little suckers. If you can't abide eggplant seeds, get bigger eggplants.

I will slice these in half -- they are quite small (I put the spoon in the photo for perspective) --“ and put them in a heavy pan with a small bag of frozen peas on top. I will add about a tablespoon of coriander seeds and a half tablespoon of cumin seeds, both lightly crushed, along with a teaspoon of turmeric and a couple tablespoons of butter.

Then two cups of water and some vegetarian soup base. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and let cook until all the moisture evaporates and the bottom gets a little crusty.

The idea with a charchari is that you make a slightly burnt layer on the bottom, then mix it back in for flavor. It is tricky to get right, but this dish is good no matter what you do to it.The original recipe came from "Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking."

Serve with rice or parathas or other Indian bread.