This is a take on an Northern Indian recipe – Aloo Baingan – Eggplant and Potatoes laced with fennel using what we had in the garden when I went out today. The recipe is inspired by one I saw on the Touch Of Saffron blog although I modified it some based on what we have fresh. There are a number of changes that would work, at some level this is more about the spice blend and technique than anything else.
We were out of cayenne pepper so I dropped in a Peruvian hot pepper, the Aji Amarillo. The Aji Amarillo has a little less heat but adds a wonderful fruity texture to the flavor that’s hard to explain. Playing around with chili substitutes is something I’ve been doing a lot of recently and you see substitutions a lot in our spice blends. All of the capsicum peppers came from a common set of stock out of Central and South America. The Spanish, as a part of what is known as the Colombian Exchange, brought a vast array of foods to the old world where they thrived and were adapted into regional cuisines.
1 cup eggplant, cubed in 1″ cubes
1 cup zucchini, cut into a 1″ dice
1 1/2 cup of red skin potatoes, cut into a 1″ dice
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced (or 1 teaspoon of fennel seed)
1 cup of diced white onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pinch saffron, bloomed in 1/2 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon each of ground cumin, turmeric, and aji amarillo pepper (you can use 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne if you’d like)
1/2 teaspoon whole coriander
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon of minced cilantro or Thai Basil
1 teaspoon lemon juice (or Yuzu if you have it available)
Put the eggplant, squash, potatoes, and fennel in a large bowl and toss with the mixture of cumin, turmeric, and pepper.
Heat the oil over medium high heat and add the onion and coriander seed. Cook together until the onions are softened and fragrant. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Add in the vegetable mix and toss together. Season liberally with salt and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often until the squash and eggplant are softened. Add the saffron and water and reduce the heat to low. Cook, covered, for approximately 20 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through. Remove from heat and add the citrus juice and Thai basil.
Serve over cumin rice.
You can also add in a bit of chicken to the braise if you don’t want to go the vegetarian path. I will try to get some pictures added in once I dig them off of my phone.