Thursday, January 08, 2009
These are the days of snuggling under the covers with a hot cup of tea as the world outside shivers and shakes and freezes up into a block of solid gray.
The days of slapping the snooze button on the alarm clock, again, and again, and again, and again.
The days of dreaming about spring, when the leaves and the grass and the flowers will burst out of the earth in a dizzying flurry of colors, bright in longed-for sunshine.
I have a love-hate relationship with all the seasons, but my feelings about winter are so strong, they are in a league of their own
Sure, I dream about colder days when the sun blazes down on Washington in the summer months, sapping every drop of liquid in your body. I long for the good-hair days of winter when the humidity turns my head into a frizzball. And I cannot wait each year for the first snow to collect on the branches of trees and the rooftops of houses, so pristine in its beauty
And yet winter here also means days so bitterly cold, I don't think I could have ever imagined the blood-freezing intensity of it when I lived in Bombay. The sub-freezing temperatures, sometimes accompanied by even stronger wind-chills, turn my fingers into little popsicles every time I step out, even for the short walk to my car. There are times when the cold has brought me to tears, and I kid you not.
Desi, of course, is surprisingly resilient. Winter's his favorite season, and you wouldn't guess that he was born and brought up in the cauldron of Madras. Me, I haven't outgrown my sultry Bombay blood
So no surprises then that in winter, like many others, I'm sure, I make every excuse in the book to stay indoors as much as possible. When that time can be spent at home, all the better.
It is on days like these that I pull out my favorite cookbooks and browse through them for a meal that I know will warm me to the core. This Sri Lankan Eggplant Curry from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian is one such dish.
The recipe uses your everyday Indian spices: cumin, coriander, cinnamon and mustard. But with some deft variations, Jaffrey combines them into a dish so vibrant, it has to be tasted for its flavor to be believed.
Eggplant is one of my favorite veggies- it wouldn't be a stretch to say that it's comfort food to me- so all the better.
I would have followed the recipe to the letter, except that I didn't have the curry leaves the recipe required, so I improvised instead with some kasoori methi this time. The kasoori methi changes the taste but the end result is just as delicious.
Ok, it's time for me to snuggle back under the covers, and I'm off. Enjoy, everyone!
This Sri Lankan Curry goes off to Sunshinemom (what a wonderful name that is, and sounds so good right now in this wintry post!) for her brilliant Food in Colors event. This month she's inviting dishes that are yellow. Thanks, Harini!
Sri Lankan Eggplant Curry
(Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian)
1 large eggplant, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder like cayenne or paprika
1 tsp coriander seeds, powdered
1 tsp cumin seeds, powdered
1/2 tsp fennel seeds, powdered
Juice of 1/2 lime or lemon
2 tbsp canola oil or other vegetable oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 handful (about 1/2 cup) of kasoori methi (you can use 2 sprigs of curry leaves instead. The original recipe suggests basil for an interesting variation
2 tsp mustard seeds, powdered
1/4 cup chopped coriander leaves
Slather the eggplant slices with salt, pepper and oil, and place on a baking sheet.
Place the baking sheet under the broiler and cook for four minutes until the slices are reddish-brown on top.
Flip over and cook the other side for another 2-3 minutes.
Cut the eggplant slices into quarters, add the turmeric, lemon juice, and chilli, fennel, coriander and cumin powders and mix well.
Heat the other tbsp of oil in a saucepan.
Add the onion and fry until lightly brown.Add the kasoori methi (or curry leaves) and stir for a couple of minutes.
Add the eggplant and cook, stirring, for about five minutes.
Add the coconut milk and warm through. Add the mustard powder and mix well. Add salt if needed.
Turn off the heat. Garnish with coriander leaves.
This tastes wonderful with some hot rotis, but it'd also be great with plain boiled rice.