Goddess Annapurna’s aubergines

imageAs long as I can remember cooking has always been a sacred act to me. As is feeding people. I’ve never been much of a religious person but the kitchen, without a doubt, is my church. There is no place on earth where I feel more safe, connected and alive than behind the stove. Food to me is nature’s art. More beautiful than the finest painting or most expensive haute couture gown. Food is life. And there isn’t a thing more valuable than that.

imageI love the way all of my senses are engaged when preparing a meal. Some people are clairvoyant. Others clairaudiant. And than some again may be clairesentient. In the kitchen I am all of these things, all at the same time. I just know when a loaf of bread is done and often take it out of the oven just seconds before the timer I’ve set rings. I tap on its bottom and when it sounds hollow I know it is cooked all the way through. Spices whisper to me. ,,Take me.” cardamom says. ,,I’ll calm you down.” ,, And me.” mister ginger chirps. ,,I am cardamom’s distant cousin so you’ll have a happy family reunion going on in your pan if you combine us.” I can measure out a cup of water to the exact millimeter without ever using a measuring jug. And just like a really talented sound technician once told me, there comes a point where I am just looking at my hands doing the work and have no idea how they know to do what they do.

imageIt is in this sacred space that I finally get to park my brain outside the door and use my innate wisdom. Don’t misunderstand. There is still plenty of thinking going on as I consider in which order to add ingredients, decide on taste combinations and amounts. But here in my warm haven my logic is finally in its rightful place, as the servant of my instincts.

I am forever grateful for my ungoing love affair with food. It takes me through the roughest storms in my life and has been my faithful companion at life’s biggest celebrations. As I made food into my profession I lost that pristine inner paradise connection with it for a brief stint, as the burden of economics and practicality took over my natural good feelings with food. But I am reclaiming that joy that I have always felt when cooking meals. Nothing is more important to me than feeling good and no activity can take me there quicker than chopping, frying, stirring and showing my love through food.

imageSo today in my kitchen church I pray that my inner cooking Goddess returns to me in full bloom. She has and will forever be at the heart of the radiant spark I know myself to be. She is funny, relaxed, beautiful and mesmerizing and I, as well as anyone else who has the good fortune of meeting her, adore her. She is everything that I have ever longed to be. And knowing that she resides in me is a great blessing.

imageIn India the Goddess of the kitchen is called Annapurna. And I have cooked this beautiful meal in her honour. It was a loving and centering ritual making these dishes. The colours, the smells, the tastes. All in perfect harmony. Today I make no excuse for the time needed to make this meal. When in church I step outside the confinement of man made time and into the timeless space of bliss. And it is my deep wish that you do so every once in a while as well. So make this dish and channel your own inner (kitchen) goddess. And I will see you again next week at mass.

Much love,

D.

Annapurna’s aubergines

Recipe from Anjum Anand’s Indian Vegetarian Feasts

For 4

  • ghee for frying
  • 2 medium aubergines (around 700 grams in total) in 1 cm thick slices
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 3/4 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 red chillie, deseeded and sliced in thin rings
  • 12 to 14 fresh curry leaves (You can buy this at a well stocked Asian store. Leave them out if you can’t find them. But they do make a big difference in flavour. So make an effort to get them if you can. The curry leaves you have left can be frozen easily.)
  • 250 grams greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons coconut blossom sugar
  • himalaya salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • handful of pomegranate seeds
  • handful of chopped coriander leaves

Fry the aubergine slices in batches in a single layer in about 1 teaspoon of ghee at a time. Fry on medium high heat for about 2 minutes on each side. You want your aubergine to become soft in the middle, crispy at the edges and golden brown all over. Transfer to a plate that you cover with foil and keep hot in a low temperature oven until all aubergine is fried.

Have your yogurt ready in a small bowl. In a very small pan or frying pan heat the one tablespoon of ghee. Once hot add the mustard seeds and when they start to pop add in the cumin seeds, chillie and curry leaves immediatly. Be careful as the cumin seeds can easily burn. So work quickly. This process should take seconds. The curry leaves may splatter when you add them to the hot ghee so be careful! Now pour your flavoured ghee (this is also called a tarka) into the yogurt. Add the coconut blossom sugar, salt and pepper.

Spread out the fried aubergine in a pretty overlapping circle on a large serving platter. Scoop the yoghurt on top of the centre of the circle leaving a border of about 7,5 cm. Sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds and chopped coriander. I served these aubergines with a beautiful rice pilaf dish of which I will post the recipe next time.

Nederlands recept

Annapurna’s aubergines

Naar een recept van Anjum Anand’ s Indian Vegetarian Feasts

Voor 4 personen

  • ghee om in te bakken
  • 2 medium aubergines in plakken van 1 cm dik (ongeveer 700 gram aubergine bij elkaar)
  • 1 eetlepel ghee
  • 3/4 theelepel bruine mosterdzaadjes
  • 3/4 theelepel komijnzaadjes
  • 1 rode chillie, zonder het zaad en in dunne ringetjes
  • 12-14 kleine verse curryblaadjes (Je kunt deze bij een goed gesorteerde Aziatische toko vinden. Ze maken een groot verschil in de smaak en zijn dus de moeite waard om naar op zoek te gaan. Je kunt wat je over hebt makkelijk invriezen. Laat ze weg als je ze niet kunt vinden.)
  • 250 gram griekse yoghurt
  • 2 theelepel kokosbloesem suiker
  • himalaya zout
  • versgemalen zwarte peper
  •  handvol granaatappelzaadjes
  • handvol verse korianderblaadjes

Bak de aubergineplakken in een grote koekenpan in 1 laag in ongeveer 1 theelepel ghee per keer. Bak op medium hoog vuur zo een minuut of 2 per kant of tot ze zacht in het midden, krokant aan de rand en goudbruin zijn geworden. Schep de gebakken aubergine op een bord, sluit af met aluminiumfolie en hou warm in een lauwe oven tot alle aubergine is gebakken.

Hou de yoghurt in een kommetje klaar. Verhit in een kleine (koeken)pan de ene eetlepel ghee. Als het heet is voeg je de mosterdzaadjes toe. Ze zullen net als popcorn gaan springen dus werk snel. Voeg direct het komijnzaad, de rode chillie en de curryblaadjes toe. De curryblaadjes kunnen spetteren dus wees voorzichtig! Dit proces hoort maar enkele seconden te duren. Schenk de gearomatiseerde ghee (ook wel tarka genoemd) over de yoghurt. Voeg de kokosbloesemsuiker en het zout en peper toe.

Drapeer de aubergineplakken op een grote serveerschaal in een mooie overlappende cirkel. Schep de yoghurt over het midden van de aubergines en laat een rand van ongeveer 7, 5 cm over. Besprenkel met de granaatappelzaadjes en verse korianderblaadjes. Ik serveerde een prachtige rijstpilaf bij mijn aubergines waar ik het recept de volgende keer van zal delen.

 

 

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