It’s only February but I have to say…summer is upon us! We had the most fleeting spell of cool weather this/last year. The Christmas season (when we usually feel that mild chill we look forward to all year round) was unusually bereft of cool days. January saw a couple of weeks of cool wind that had us quite excited, until it left just as suddenly, leaving a blazing hot sun in its place.
While my head laments our all too brief stint of cool-ish weather this season, along with the unbearable heat now presently trying to get the best of me, my heart can’t help leaping at the thought of summer and all that it brings: beach trips, barbecues, and that special brand of relaxed and celebratory atmosphere (even though actual, months-long, summer vacations are sadly a thing of the past already). Although summer does not officially start until March, the merciless heat and the staunchly shining sun outside my window tells me that it is in fact very much here…or at least has got its foot resolutely in the door.
And with that, I am happy to say, we are headed off to our first beach trip of the season! Hooray! Little C has been clamoring for the beach for weeks now and we are looking forward to obliging ;)
So I am off to pack, and make cookies, and answer a seemingly unending chain of work emails, and all manners of things to do before we go. But I’ll leave you with this first – it may not be too summery but it is a snap to put together, delicious, and will hopefully make you a lovely little side dish this weekend.
Chickpea and Eggplant Masala
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 white onion, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 coin-sized pieces of ginger
- 2 small tomatoes, chopped
- 1 Asian eggplant, about 200 grams in weight, chopped
- 1/2 cup cooked and drained chickpeas
- 1/2 – 1 teaspoon garam masala (depending on the potency of your mix)
- Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/4 cup water, approximately (you may need more)
- about 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro stems or slightly more cilantro leaves
- Heat a wok or a skillet over medium high heat. Add the oil and when this is hot, add the garlic, onions, and ginger. Sauté until onions start to soften and then add the cumin seeds. Sauté further until you can smell the cumin.
- Add the tomatoes to the pan, toss once or twice, and then add the eggplant, chickpeas, salt and pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of the garam masala. Stir to combine, and then add about a couple of tablespoons-full of water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until eggplant and tomato are completely soft and cooked down, adding water as necessary when the pan gets too dry. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt or garam masala if desired.
- Toss in the cilantro, stir, and take of the heat.
I don’t know if this truly constitutes a real “masala” but since I used garam masala, and a few Indian flavors in general, I thought it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to call it that. I used cilantro stems here because I didn't have any more leaves. Fresh cilantro leaves would be ideal, but know that in a pinch you can use the chopped up stems (and make use of something that often just gets tossed!) for flavor...just use a little less. This would do very well served with grilled meats or fish, although I just had it piled high on a mound of brown rice. One important note: I would be doing you a grave disservice if I didn’t tell you to have this with some garlic yogurt. A perfect match! Just mix some good Greek yogurt with a small bit of minced garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil and there you have it.
Have a fantastic weekend wherever you are! I’ll see you when I get back!