Wednesday, October 31, 2007

One Vegetable, Five Spices / Un Légume, Cinq épices

Five Spices

What I like about farmer’s market is how people interact with each other and how it seems natural to talk to your next on line neighbor while filling your basket with lettuce and butternut squashes. There are individuals who come in early wearing tennis shoes and a cap and a big smile on their face, and those who live right across the street who come pulling their kids in green wooden carts, and there are those who come around noon, holding a mug of coffee and chatting with producers that have some free sample to offer.

Me? I am the type of person who arrives at 10, with my huge red and beige wicker basket (which can be practical to make my way through the crowded market) and my hubby pulling our daughter’s stroller. You will find me carrying two wallets: a small one for change, in my rear Jean’s pocket and the bigger one inside my basket. And yes, you will find me by the chestnut cheesecake and brownies samples too or by the eggplant stand trying to share some "coherent" recipes with some eggplant debutants.

I said: “coherent” because I just don’t know how to explain recipes orally. Not that I don’t know how to speak: “Hi, how are you? Pleasure to meet you.” I know all of that!
But when it comes to giving recipes I always get carried away by the excitement of the fruit/vegetable in question and find myself trying to explain 2 or 3 recipes to a poor lady that just wanted to know how do I cook my eggplant. But she is too polite the lady; she doesn’t dare asking me to stop. She even thanks me and keeps asking me questions although I can see that her right eye is looking at me and the left one is looking elsewhere, for somebody to drag her away from me.

Then I’ll go all smiles to my husband who was waiting for me at the corner, and who asks me: “how many recipe did you give her?”
“ I don’t know, may be three! Too bad I didn’t have a paper and a pen to write it all down for her. Oh but wait!! I completely forgot to give her the spicy eggplant recipe that you love so much. You think I should go and give it to her quickly? She is still there by the tomatoes stand!”
“Oh no! I think she’s had enough”, he replies joking.

This is indeed my hubby’s favorite way of enjoying eggplant and I promise to explain it to you calmly.

Eggplant Zaalouk is an Algerian dish, served as an appetizer or a side dish to Lamb Kebabs.
The traditional eggplant Zaalouk is prepared by frying the eggplant flesh with tomatoes, onions, garlic, cumin and paprika. It’s also called Eggplant Caviar in Europe.
My version has more spices and the eggplant is cubed and broiled with some olive oil. Toasting the spices in a pan is very important to have a fragrant, smoky finished dish. I used ground cumin but whole cumin would work as well. Sometimes I add to it roasted, cubed zucchini, when in season, and roasted, diced red and green peppers. It is Delicious warm, nestled inside a piece of bread and even better tomorrow, straight from the fridge.


Eggplant Zaalouk


- 1 eggplant, peeled or not, and diced
- 1 to 2 garlic cloves (I used Diana's and Dick German Extra Hardy)
- 1 tsp caraway powder
- ½ tsp sweet paprika (paprika goes bad very quickly. check for date and keep it in a dark, cool place)
- 2 tomatoes, peeled and diced
- ½ tsp freshly ground coriander seeds
- ½ tsp freshly ground cumin powder
- A tiny pinch of cinnamon
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Salt, freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp cilantro leaves, finely chopped
- Olive oil for baking

Put the eggplant cubes in a colander. Sprinkle with generous amount of kosher salt and let it sweat at least 30 min. Sweating the eggplant removes the bitterness of the eggplants. If you're using Japanese, thin eggplant, there is no need to sweat the eggplant. Rinse the eggplants and pat dry really well with a clean kitchen towel. Heat your oven at 400F.

Arrange the eggplant in a baking sheet. Drizzle with some olive oil, until every cube is well lubricated and season lightly with salt and pepper. Bake until the eggplant cubes become golden brown and tender, about 20 min.
Meanwhile, heat a non-stick pan on medium heat. Add caraway powder, paprika, coriander seeds, cumin powder and the cinnamon. Stir the spices in the pan, using a wooden spoon until they become very fragrant. Pour over the tbsp of olive oil, diced tomatoes and minced garlic. Cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes on medium-low heat. Add the eggplant cubes (and other vegetables if using. See note below) and toss them so they get evenly coated with all the spices and the olive oil. Add some olive oil if needed and continue cooking and tossing for 2 minutes.
Sprinkle the cilantro leaves on top of the eggplant and season with salt and pepper if needed. Toss and plate.
Serve warm with some bread to mop all the goodness.

Note: If using zucchini, red peppers and green peppers, broil the peppers by themselves until the skin gets blistered. Peel, dice and set aside. As for the zucchini, bake them along with the eggplants and continue with the recipe as mentioned above.

Aubergine Zaalouk Grillée

In francais please:
- 1 aubergine, coupée en dés
- 2 gousses d’ail moyennes, finement haché
- 1 c.c de carvi en poudre
- ½ c.c de paprika
- ½ c.c de graines de coriandre
- ½ c.c de cumin en poudre
- 1 toute petite pincée de cannelle
- 1 c.s d’huile d’olive
- Sel, poivre fraichement moulu
- 2 c.s de feuilles de coriandre, finement ciselées
- Huile d’olive pour griller

Mettre les cubes d’aubergine dans une passoire. Saupoudrer généreusement de gros sel et laisser dégorger au moins 30 min. Rinser-les sous l’eau du robinet et sécher a l’aide d’une serviette de cuisine propre. Préchauffer le gril de votre four a 225C.
Disposer les cubes d’aubergine en une seule couche dans un grand plat allant au four. Verser de l’huile d’olive dessus pour bien les lubrifier. Assaisonner légerement de sel, poivre et mettre a 20cm sous le gril. Laisser cuire jusqu’a ce que les cubes deviennent dorées et tendres.
Entre temps, faites chauffer une poele antiadhesive. Mettre dedans carvi, cumin, paprika, graines de coriandre et cannelle. Faites chauffer sur feu doux, en remuant a l’aide d’une cuil en bois jusqu’a ce que vous puissiez sentir tous les épices. Ajouter la c.s d’huile d’olive, puis l’ail tout en continuant de remuer. Ajouter dessus les cubes d’aubergine et faites sauter afin d’imprégner les cubes des toutes les epices. Laisser cuire encore 2 min sans cesser de remuer. Attention a ne pas réduire vos aubergine en purée.
Mettre les feuilles de coriandre sur les aubergines. Faites sauter une derniere fois et servir dans un plat.
Servir tiede avec une portion génereuse de pain.

Other eggplant recipes and spicy appetizers:

- Stuffed eggplant rolls
- Chermoula and Calamari


Aimée said...

What a lovely combination of spices. A pretty photo,too! You should give us a virtual tour of your farmer's market in a photo series. That would be fun!

Nabeela said...

Thank you, thank you for the recipe! And I LOVE that first picture!

Deborah said...

I wish I had a farmers market like that close by. It sounds like quite an adventure!

Shivapriya said...

we make eggplant similar way but we use garam masala (you can buy in Indian store) sometimes we add onions and tomatoes to the dish. I love the picture and dish.

Lucy said...

Oh, Rose, you always, ALWAYS cheer me enormously!

I, like you, have been known to...'find myself trying to explain 2 or 3 recipes to a poor lady that just wanted to know how do I cook my eggplant.'!

I think you should have gone back and shared this with her - I would have been grateful.

winedeb said...

Oh I miss the Farmers Market that I attended each Saturday morning while I was in Ohio this summer. I made so many friends! And the fresh veggies, oh my gosh, how I miss all of that and all of the "farming friends" that I made. Am glad to hear that your Farmers Mkt. is still going strong into the fall season. I know the one in Ohio is also.
Your eggplant dish sounds and looks wonderful Rose!

Sara said...

This looks delicious. I will have to try it. I am used to cooking eggplant the iranian way--- peel, fry, fry, fry some more, and then blend (and serve with bread)!

Wendy said...

Lovely picture! I make something similar using aubergines and tomatoes. It never lasts long in the fridge!

LILIBOX said...

j'aime beaucoup la première photo d'épices .
simple, équilibrée et lumineuse.

Anonymous said...

que serait la bonne cuisine sans les épices ? surement très fade et d'aucun intéret.comme la vie d'ailleurs;une pincée de bonne humeur ;un grain d'humour;un bout d'entrain et une grosse louche d'amour.c'est l'assaisonnement qui compte .dans ta première photo on se croirait dans un souk ou l'on est ennivré par toutes ses odeurs au point de tout vouloir acheter.tes aubergines ont bien de la chance .bravo rose et biz .

Alhya said...

Rose.. ces aubergines m'enchantent... au delà de ce que tu peux imaginer!

Anonymous said...

So funny your educative vision of the market :))))
I've never tasted Zaalouk nor Chermoula but I love eggplants, and you absoluted covinced me to try it :) Thanks Rose !

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Of course you know with my interest in North African cooking that I am bookmarking this recipe immediately! Can't wait to try it -- thank you so much.

Warda said...

- Aimee, thank you very much my dear. Oh how I wish I could give you a virtual tour of the market. Last Saturday was the last day of the farmer's market until next May, and I am so sad and lost!

- Nabeela, you are more than welcome. Glad you enjoyed it.

- Deborah, we do have a lot of fun. If I had more time I would spend the entire morning there.

- Shivapriya, thanks a lot. I've heard and seen Garam Masala before but had never tried it. I should give a try someday.

- Lucy, that is just the sweetest comment I've had today. I wish I had too but I was afraid she would hit me with a butternut squash or took me for a freak or a weirdo!

- Deb, I bet they miss you too. Unfortunately the one I have here had his last day last Saturday. I can't wait for next May.

- Sara, I love the "fry, fry, fry", It sounds so much fun when said this way. Do you use any spices in your Iranian Eggplant dish?

- Wendy, thank you very much my dear. I sometimes use tomatoes too but we love it better that way. And yes, it never lasts longer than one day in the fridge.

- Lili, merci beaucoup ma chere. J'ai eu de la chance avec la lumiere ces jours-ci.

- Mima, quelle poesie. Je ne pensais jamais qu'un Zaalouk d'aubergine pouvait etre aussi inspirant. Merci pour ton gentil mot et Gros bisous.

- Alhya, tres tres bien. Je suis contente que mes aubergines ont au cet effet sur toi.

- Marion, I am so thrilled. And I know how much you love aubergines. Let me know how it goes if you do try them. Bisous.

- Lydia, you are very welcome my dear friend. I am sure you will love it, as I know how much you love spicy and fragrant dishes. Let me know when you try it please.

Nora Leah Sherman said...

The beautiful photo of the spices captured my attention -- and I immediately knew, the vegetable in question could be none other than the noble eggplant. I am a fool for both the veg and Moroccan flavors and this looks divine!

Beautiful site you have here.

Anonymous said...

I love the farmers market too. I'm always butting in to tell people my favorite recipes or how easy it is to cook something that looks a little foreign. It seems to be appreciated, usually, but other times you can tell the person just wants to hear that you boil it, plain and simple. Humph. I LOVE broiled eggplant and your eggplant caviar recipe sounds simply divine. I love all the spices you used too. I find that eggplant and cilantro really like each other too. Thanks for the yummy recipe!

Warda said...

- Nora, welcome and thanks for your sweet comment. Glad you enjoy my eggplant recipe and my picture.

- Bri, hahaha, I've met some "boilng amateurs" nad I know exactely what you mean. You are right, eggplant does work very well with cilantro. I love it. Thanks for stopping by and have a nice weekend.


Julie said...

That looks so, so delicious! I truly love eggplant, and I'm looking forward to trying this recipe!

Anonymous said...

Rosa, tes photos sont toujours sublimes et quelle que soit l'heure à laquelle je viens mon estomac fait des gargouillis!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

I like that you toast the spices first. It makes them so much more flavorful and aromatic. This is a really fabulous recipe that I'm saving. And the photos are just lovely.

Warda said...

- Julie, thank you very much. I hope you will love it as much as we did.

- Murielle, tu es adorable. Et tu sais que tu es toujours la bienvenue, que tu aies faim ou pas.

- Susan, it does make a huge difference, especially for already ground spices. Thank you for your kind note. Hope you will love it. Let me know how it goes.

browniegirl said...

This looks sooooo yummy!! I just happen to have a beautiful shiny dark aubergine in my kitchen so guess what I will be doing with it?? :) Thanks Rose xx

Anonymous said...

You have such a great site. I love the photo of the spices, and the eggplant sounds wonderful.

Gloria Baker said...

I love eggsplants's recipe, but I always tell you, your pictures are so beauty!! Gloria

Anonymous said...

YUM! More eggplant recipes! I love your description of your over-excitement with eggplant "debutants". I met a cabbage "debutant" the other day and wished I had paper and pencil for the recipes I wanted to share.

Warda said...

- Collywolly, thank you very much. I hope you will like it.

- Vegeyum, that is so sweet of you. Thanks.

- Gloria, you ar esuch a sweetheart. THank you very much.

- Nikki, Thanks my dear. May be we should always have a pencil and a paper for our vehgetables "debutants".

Diana Dyer said...

Oh my, oh my, oh my! From the instant Warda opened the container she prepared for me of this dish, I knew it was better than anything similar I had ever made. The aroma, even cold!, was out of this world and even before looking at the beautiful vegetables, so carefully cut, I was asking about the spices. Our organic garlic used in this recipe is German Extra Hardy, which has enormous succulent cloves which have flavor molecules with a hint of sweetness in addition to robust garlic-ness! Warda has inspired me to pay more attention to my spices I use when cooking in addition to growing the best garlic in SE Michigan. :-)

Confession: my husband and I ate nearly the entire container of Warda's Eggplant Zaalouk last night for supper after coming home from selling our garlic at the Ann Arbor Evening Farmers' Market. Combining it on a thinly sliced whole grain baguette with a tiny bit of Zingerman's City Goat cheese made us both swoon with pleased palates. :-)

Warda said...

Thank you Diana, as always, for all your helpful information and knowledge of garlic. Your garlic is poetry! It is sublime! And combining zaalouk with goat cheese sounds heavenly! Smart woman! :)

Kateri said...

After reading Diana's review, I am making this today!

Warda said...

Kateri, please let me know how you like it? Diana's garlic is THE BEST!