Monday, August 8, 2011

Rasa Vangi

It always gets me when people talk about "curry" as if it were a dish, a spice, or a food group.  Insofar as it is anything--stretching from Japan to Thailand to Pakistan to India--curry is a method of cooking, which may involve frying spices in oil or ghee before turning them into a sauce.  To talk about "curry" as if it meant "Indian food" is like talking about French food by using the word "bake."  "Oh, we went out to this darling little ethnic restaurant last night and we had some bake."  Never mind that even French food differs depending on the part of the country you're in; never mind that "bake" could refer to many different dishes; never mind that "bake" excludes a large part of the cuisine of the country with which it's being somewhat awkwardly associated.   And, never mind that the word also suggests the cuisine of one nation, when in reality many nations make those type of dishes.  Anyway.

Did you know that in Britain all the Asians who aren't "South Asian" (i.e., Pakistani, Indian, Sri Lankan, or Bangladeshi) have to check "Chinese or other" on their census forms?  It's nice to know that Americans aren't the only ones whose census has some issues.

So on to the really awesome stuff.

This was the second-most-life-changing curry we had at Rasa.  I think it ended up better than the version we had at the restaurant, but I'm not sure why.  I found this recipe online, and I kindof loved how it didn't have ANY measurements!  Let's just think about the hegemony of the measurement.  Sometimes I make up measurements to make my recipes sound legit.  But I felt liberated and delighted by a recipe that was like, "add some of this; then add some of this."  And you know what?  It turned out really awesome.

Then again, I recorded my own measurements for you.  So the measurement rears its head again.

I find it interesting how similar, and yet how different, this recipe is to the baingan bharta that I adore.  Here there be sesame seeds, coconut, tamarind, and mustard seeds!

It was so delicious.  The eggplant was tender, with the consistency of a poached pear, and the spices were exquisite.  Sarah said that it was "restaurant quality," which I'm gonna take as a compliment.

Rasa Vangi
(adapted from this blog)

Ingredients
3 small eggplants, sliced
masala
1 stick cinnamon
1 tsp sesame seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 red chile, dried
1 TB coconut
*
gravy
1 large onion, chopped
2 small tomatoes, chopped
1-2 green chillis
tamarind (the recipe calls for a "lemon sized" chunk of tamarind; I used 1 tsp of the concentrated paste)
1/2 tsp ground coriander
cayenne to taste
seasoning
canola oil
1 tsp mustard seeds

Instructions
1. Cut the eggplants in to quarters and fry them golden brown in oil.
2. Extract tamarind pulp and add two glasses of water to it and keep aside.
3. In the meanwhile grind all the ingredients for the masala to a fine powder (I toasted them first, individually, to bring out the flavors).
4. Now in a wok add some oil and fry mustard seeds.  Now add finely chopped onions and green chillis and saute well. Add chopped tomatoes to it and cook it well. Add coriander powder, chilli powder and salt and stir. Now add the tamarind water and the ground masala powder.
5. Now bring the mix to a boil and add the fried eggplants to it.
6. Let it cook till the gravy thickens.Add chopped cilantro leaves before closing the lid.   Serves about 4.

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