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Thursday, June 3, 2010

A VEGAN INDIAN FEAST FOR ANOTHER BIRTHDAY; EGGPLANT POMEGRANATE RELISH; AND SAVING A DESSERT FROM DISASTER!

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A very hot mango chutney in the foreground; 2 raitas behind that

On Saturday we celebrated another birthday-- for my friend H., hosted by some mutual friends D. and J. The birthday girl's  favorite cuisine is Indian, and she is a vegan (also wheat-free), so her friends, even the omni ones, arranged this festive meal. There were 9 of us at the table and it was a fun and delicious meal-- and pretty fiery, at times (H.'s mango chutney really cleared our sinuses!).


The Birthday Girl!

Here are some views of the food and the fun before we plunged in:


J.'s delicious curried squash soup in the foreground.


Our hosts, on the right, with a friend.


A view of the whole feast-- that's my dish of Blackeyed Peas and Corn with Dill behind the bowls. This is an easy and delicious recipe from Madhur Jaffrey's wonderful book, World Vegetarian.

Another shot of the Madhur Jaffrey dish:


'
"Just goofin' around!"


B.'s fusion curried chickpea and veggie tortilla roll-ups in the foreground; J.'s curried rice dish behind that, with my dish of Eggplant Pomegranate relish (recipe below) to the left and, Masala Chickpeas behind that.





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I happened on a recipe in an old issue of Saveur magazine (my daughter gave me several years' worth of back issues recently) for an Eggplant Pomegranate Relish.  The recipe is probably more Mediterranean than Indian, but it had some heat and I thought it would make a nice accompaniment to Indian dishes, even if it wasn't authentic.  I also happened to have an eggplant that needed using and I love pomegranate molasses!  I played with the recipe a bit and I'll post my version of the recipe below.  It's very easy to make and quite delicious!  I added some brown sugar to my version as it seemed to need a counterpoint to the tartness, but do what you will!

ABOUT POMEGRANATE MOLASSES (known as nasrahab in Georgian and dibs rumman in Arabic) It is an essential Middle Eastern ingredient. It has a wonderful flavor and heady aroma, and keeps in the refrigerator after opening almost indefinitely. The Iranian kind tends to be sweeter and thinner than the Lebanese brands.


The uses for this thick, tangy, piquant syrup are many. It blends well with walnuts, adds a tart and pungent flavor to beans and other savory dishes, and gives an astringent edge to salads and vegetables. It is delicious in glazes and marinades and it can even be diluted and used for sharp drinks and tart sorbets.


This should not be confused with grenadine syrup, which is made from the same base but has sugar and other other flavorings added.


Pomegranate molasses is available from Middle Eastern, Greek and Persian grocery stores, and gourmet food stores.






Printable Recipe

BRYANNA'S VERSION OF EGGPLANT POMEGRANATE RELISH
    Servings: 12
    Yield: 3 cups

This was published in Saveur magazine in Issue #32 (Jan/Feb 1999).  The original recipe is here.  I made a few changes. It's delicious and easy!  (Some of the seasoning measurements are a bit vague—I was rushing and forgot to write everything down!)
 
1/3 cup    extra-virgin olive oil  
1 large    eggplant, cubed (unpeeled)  
1 medium    onion, peeled and chopped (I used a yellow one, but they called for a red one)  
6 cloves    garlic, peeled and minced  
1 2" piece    ginger, peeled and minced  
1 cup    tomato juice  
1/3 cup    pomegranate molasses  
1/2 tsp    cayenne (they called for 1 teaspoon)  
1/4 cup    brown sugar (I added this ingredient—this is approximate—I just  started with a couple of tablespoons and keep tasting and adjusting.  I forgot to write down the exact amount!)  
   Salt (1 used about 1 teaspoon, I’m pretty sure) and freshly ground black pepper to taste  
1/2 cup    chopped fresh mint leaves  
OPTIONAL:  
If you have a pomegranate around, decorate the dish with some pomegranate seeds. I didn't have one, so I added a sprig of mint to each serving bowl.  

Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet (nonstick, if possible) over high heat until hot. Add eggplant and cook, stirring often, until soft, 5-10 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium, add onions and cook, stirring often, until slightly softened, 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add tomato juice, pomegranate molasses, and cayenne, and season to taste with brown sugar, salt and pepper. Stir to loosen brown bits on bottom of skillet. Bring mixture just to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring often, until thickened, about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in mint. Adjust seasonings.

 Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per 1/4 cup serving): 118.2 calories; 45% calories from fat; 6.1g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 162.6mg sodium; 199.4mg potassium; 9.9g carbohydrates; 1.9g fiber; 6.7g sugar; 8.0g net carbs; 1.0g protein; 2.5 points.

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Last, but not least, my "save" of a dessert disaster!  I was supposed to make the cake-- wheat-free in this instance.  I decided to make a flourless vegan chocolate cake posted by Hannah Kaminsky (author of My Sweet Vegan) on her blog.  It looked deliciously moist and rich, called for blackeyed peas as an intriguing and available ingredient, and she's a great baker, so I thought I was safe.  Well, I should follow my own advice and try things out before the event!  I baked it for 70 minutes,  and I tested it, but, as she said herself, it was kind of vague as to how the toothpick should come out- not quite dry.   It looked fine (I compared it to her own pictures of hers):



I cooled it for several hours. But (fortunately), I decided to slice it and arrange the slices in a circle on a nice cake plate before I left. I say "fortunately" because that's how I discovered that it was like pudding in the middle! (I gather that I'm not the first person this happened to, judging by the comments on the recipe.  I plan to try it again, though-- in a shallow pan rather than a loaf pan next time, I think!)

I had maybe five minutes to figure something out. I had made a double batch of my Almond Creme Topping (would have used Soyatoo Topping Creme if I'd had some around), with a little cardamom in it for an Indian touch. My DH was quite impressed that I didn't get in a tizzy this time, but calmly scooped some of the Almond Creme into a glass serving bowl, added some crumbled cake (I could not use alot of the center part, which was too gooey), some low-sugar apricot jam, and did about 3 layers that way. I topped it with toasted almond slivers (toasted in the microwave in a hurry) and organic candied ginger, chopped in the food processor.

Off we went, hoping for the best. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of it before we ate it, but it was a hit!  Whew!   DH and I ate the inside part a couple of days later, which was like a rich chocolate pudding!

Cheers!

8 comments:

Claire said...

Awesome cake save - I'm impressed!

Tiffany said...

That looks like one epic feast! YUM. The relish sounds really interesting; it fits in perfectly with the current pomegranate phase I'm in.

Great job with the dessert save--I don't know that I could have salvaged the situation as well as you did if it happened to me!

Lisa said...

your buffet table looks fabulously yummy!

Maija Haavisto said...

Eggplant and pomegranate? Two of my favorite ingredients that always go great together!

(How come I don't have friends who would organize Indian feasts for me, grr!)

Anonymous said...

Where/how do I get this recipe??!!
B.'s fusion curried chickpea and veggie tortilla roll-ups Thank you Dianne diannef1@gmail.com

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Anonymous, I think she just made it up on the spot-- but I'll ask!

Anonymous said...

Could someone please advise if this is best served cold or warmed up? I've just made it in prep for a dinner party tomorrow night! Thanks...

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

The relish is served at room temperature.