Roasted Eggplant with Zaatar and a Tahini Dressing
Eggplant/brinjal/aubergine, call it what you may but it is under appreciated. It’s easy to cook and soaks up all flavours really well. One of my favourite ways of using eggplant is roasting it – on a pan or in the oven. I can’t do the battered and deep fried fritters style because the grease on it makes me queasy. The way I make it, I barely use 2-3 tsp of oil in the pan and then it goes straight into the oven to cook through.
I’ve made tahini before and only because all recipes of hummus calls for some. And without it, hummus is simply a chickpea mush without flavour. The last time I made it, I didn’t entirely grasp the versatility of tahini. I didn’t stop to take a whiff while it was freshly blitzed and still in the blender. This time I did and it smelled amazing. So nutty you might think it’s peanut butter or something. And it made it correctly this time as opposed to rushing it.
My latest chef crush has to be Yotam Ottolenghi. He isn’t just a good chef who celebrates food but also comes across as someone who’s warm and friendly. I discovered him on Twitter, actually. His food pictures always make me happy. He gives a vibrant new life to vegetables and heroes them in most of his dishes. I happened to stalk his recipes on The Guardian, where he’s a regular contributor, and found that all his recipes are quite simple and easy. And I stumbled on one breakfast recipe that caught my attention.
We all love a good nibble of French fries or plump potato wedges every once in a while. But the fast food kinds are such a put off with all that grease. Yes, such food is meant for comfort. The soggy mess that they turn into when you order in though makes you want to whip up a batch yourself. Well, with an oven and a nonstick pan, you can. While I’d love nothing more than to simply let the potatoes roast away in the oven till golden brown with a crisp skin, I realize I don’t have one of those big beautiful ovens. Mine is a small OTG and I get by with it.
Sunday pancakes are the best thing about weekends. But last weekend I made the savoury kind. With cheese. And topped with a poached egg. It looked damn cute and tasted damn good. What’s not to like? Cheese, runny egg and spicy sriracha. With my hot cuppa it was the perfect breakfast. If poaching eggs scare you, welcome to my world. I can’t get it to look like a perfect quenelle. But I do have my little trick that saves the day and gives me a poached egg, slightly disfigured nevertheless.
Sriracha Honey Chicken Wings
Sriracha is one of my absolute favourite condiments. It’s spicy, yet not so hot that fire alarms are set off. I got my hands on a bottle recently and wanted to put it on everything. Well, I almost did. Who doesn’t like hot wings? We all love a good nibbling on some succulent wings. I made some with just 4 ingredients and boy were they delicious. Sriracha, chilli powder, ginger garlic paste and honey. Minimum effort and maximum flavour.
I have no reason to make eggless anything. But this one time last week I saw one of those Buzzfeed Tasty videos of an eggless brownie and wanted to try it. I did change the quantities and kinds of sugar. As I always say, an eggless variation of a classic will come nowhere close to the real deal. But my colleagues seemed to have loved it. I for one thought it was good. Maybe with a scoop of ice cream it’d taste even better!
My friend spent the Eid weekend in Dubai. I asked her to bring me some zaatar since I’ve never cooked with it. The only times I’ve had it is at restaurants. Take my word, you’d want to ask family and friends who’re in the middle east to bring you back some zaatar. Zaatar is basically a mix of herbs, mainly oregano and thyme. This weekend I put it in my breakfast eggs and then went on to roasting some chicken with it.
Thambuli is from Udupi, as far as I know. Growing up we did have it made at home with different green leaves – spinach, coriander, amaranth leaves, methi leaves and more. Then there are kinds without the greens like ginger, methi and plain coconut. They all have two things in common – a coconut base and yoghurt. Ideally a summer side dish, thambuli is very cooling and delicious. For people who don’t like consuming yoghurt as it is, thambuli works great.
Brown butter is nothing fancy. It is simply butter that left home but was taken off the train before it reached the ghee station. After watching so many cooks and bakers talk and write about it, I thought I’d give it a shot. Using my old chocolate chip cookie recipe, I halved the butter and made brown butter. Another thing I altered was the brown sugar content. Instead of 1/2 cup white sugar and 1/4 cup brown sugar, I switched the quantities of the two sugars for a more dark and caramel flavour.