What do you make for a fairwell meal for a guy who is going to go traveling in South East Asia? I mean...thai noodles? That's all he will be eating for the next month at least...and then what? David once told me that when him and Mike were traveling around Europe one of the things they missed most was a "traditional English curry"...ahahha...so...that's what he got last night...An Indian Vegetarian Feast!!! not really a hard thing to accomplish as there are sooooo many amazing vegetable dishes in Indian cuisine.
Last night's feast was a mixture of recipes from different people, I can only take credit for the finished product, and the fact that the boys hoovered every last bit up!
It has taken me a few years to really start to explore Indian food. I used to be perfectly happy with tandoori chicken, rice and some naan....more recently I have been ordering only vegetable side dishes....but I also have a fondness for a really good chicken biryani. Mostly I like anything that has eggplant that has been slowly stewed to buttery mush in it. With 3/4 of an eggplant lounging in the fridge I thought that Mike's farewell would be a good time to try something new....
I found a recipe in....you guessed it...World Vegetarian Classics...called Baigan Aloo Charchari or Charcrusted Eggplants and Potatoes, which has its roots in Bengal. It was very easy to make and the best bit? To get the CHAR-CRUST you just put everything in a pan turn the heat on and leave it to cook....no stirring no nothing.....great (actually pretty difficult when you are used to stirring)...
I was definitely apprehensive about the no stir aspect of the recipe and took it off the heat too soon, so it wasn't really charcrusted...but some bits were crispy and next time I will know. Regardless, the eggplant was melt in your mouth good.
Because the Baigan Aloo Charchari was a dry curry I really needed to serve something wet with it. I searched though a few of my cookbooks, but couldn't find much in the way of vegetable based curries so I went on line and decided to use Nigella's Spicy Spinach and Chick Pea Curry recipe.
The recipe calls for Harissa Paste...which I didn't have and couldn't find in the supermarket, so I just used 1/4 of a jar of Balti curry paste we had in the fridge. Possibly not the most traditional recipe, but quick and yummy.
Rounding off the Indian feast were some fantasic BAKED Onion Bhajis from Jeena's Kitchen. If you follow the link she gives a step by step guide with pictures (and a video). These Bhajis were much better than the fried ones I tried to make a few months ago...and I guess healthier? I also made a Raita...plain yoghurt, cucumber, tomatoes, corriander, onion, chili and some lemon juice. And of course....bought some Naan bread.
All in all a wonderful feast complimented by wonderful company.