The Short History of Nothing
Hello and welcome back!
We’re talking about a recipe
And a very spicy one it be
Don’t know much about cookery
I do know about what I cook
And you’re left wondering
what a wonderful world it would be
if I didn’t attempt poetry
(My apologies to Sam Cooke et al)
It’s been over a month or more than four (4) weeks since The Great Adventure Across the Rolling Meadows and Fells of Northern England, The Crowded Streets of Constantinople and The Sights of London.
In that time, we walked. And we walked and we walked. We walked across meadows, along trails, over hill and over dale, drinking beer and enjoying the company of old friends.
And since then, we published
- an old joke from a movie, using photos, completely ignored
- a long delayed review of a useless gadget, mildly ignored
- a recipe for Aloo Gobi, somewhat ignored
- and a caustic pome with caustic commentary, completely ignored
You see a pattern? I do.
And so, I’m planning here to either break that pattern or reinforce it. We’ll find out in a bit which it is.
On to the recipe!
We’re talking about a vegetarian recipe, here. A really vegetarian recipe, with no kebabs or steak in it anwyhere! Also, it’s vegan, with no dairy products. What an absolutely wonderful thing it must be, then, you’re thinking! Right? (You are thinking, correct? I mean, please, for your own sake, don’t ever stop thinking!)
You’re right, it is actually purty darn good! Fast to cook and good to eat, as that easy-noodle advert used to say. The ingredients are few, prep time is short and cooking time is well below, I say well, well below the benchmark of the banana bread. A fraction, I say, a mere fraction. I think…. I mean, I missed the entire fractions course in school, thanks to moving cities and missing 6 months of my schooling, so never understood fractions. (Now you know why I’m bad academically. My excuse, and I’m sticking with it!)
Ok! Here we go then – Punjabi Achari Chinese Eggplant (with Red Skin Potatoes – Skin On)
The name comes from the fact that the main or secret ingredient is Punjabi Achar, mango pickle, as was made by my Punjabi mom and the Eggplant. Now, I saw somewhere that this variety of eggplant was listed as “Chinese Eggplant” and the name has stuck in the family. I don’t know that this eggplant is necessarily Chinese. But! It sounds better than just plain melanza! (Or Aubergine, or baingan, or begoon).
Now, I did take real pictures with my fake camera of the work as it progressed. This entailed much washing of hands and swiping here and there across the screen, as we all do these days. You know, swipe up, swipe down and swipe left and swipe right.
Never mind all that now. I can’t bear to offer social commentary, because so much of the world is proving to be anti-social. Given how I always felt out of sync and lacking in social graces, it’s a revelation to know, in my aged years, that I’m actually very mild on the spectrum of those lacking in social graces. More on that some other time, it requires an examination of my birth, early years, upbringing, my teenage years and my career. Or better, I’ll just shove it into One Bluish Egg – The Story of my Early Years or Slide 16 – The Story of my Later Years. There! I said it.
So here we go then.
- Chinese Eggplants (those long ones, that are shaped and sized like English cucumbers, except that they’re narrower at one end, the one where it joined the plant. They’re also purple, dark purple, like the aubergines. I mean, look, you could very well make these with regular eggplant, but then, think about it, we’d have to change the name of this dish to “Achari Baingan”, or “Aubergine aux mangues marinées” or just plain “Punjabi Achari Eggplant”. I mean, right?)
- Red skin potatoes (we’re not going to skin them, btw…)
- Onions (optional. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. Depends on whether I’m feeling this way or that measured on the Boredom Meter)
- Punjabi achar (gotta be Punjabi – like my Punjabi mom used to make. I had just one mom, who was Punjabi, so really, when I say “my Punjabi mom”, I don’t mean to imply I had another, non-Punjabi mom. I hope this removes all the confusion that you didn’t know you had.)
- Salt (the usual kind. Let’s not get all pinky Himalayan or sea salt. Which latter bugs me. Doesn’t most salt come from the sea? Did that change somewhere in the last 100 years since I visited the salt flats of Gujarat?)
- Chilli powder (red)
- Cooking oil (suit yourself. EVOO will also work, since eggplant loves oil, especially EVOO.)
- Cumin powder (optional)
- Coriander seed powder (optional)
- Garam masala (optional)
- A colander (the thing with little holes in it)
- A knife, large for use with
- A chopping board
- A large pan (word of advice – eschew the use of your enameled cast iron pots…… I um ah cannot stress this enough. Write to me privately and I’ll tell you why!)
- Spoons and things to work the spices, the achar and a large one to stir the pot with
- Cut the eggplant ( I go lengthwise once and chop off bits measured by the span of the two phalanges of my left forefinger, or approximately 1.24351 inches exactly)
- Cut the pototoes, leaving the skin on! (Dice ’em, smaller than the eggplant bits. Because the eggplant mushes down and the potatoes, skin on, don’t and you preferably would like all the bits to be about the same size in the finished thingy)
- Cut the onions, if using (suit yourself as to size. I mean, who cares?)
- Wash eggplant and potatoes, shake excess water off
- Poureth thou the oil in pan and pan on heat source. Don’t forget to turn on the heat source! Gotta have heat, man!
- Addeth the onions, if using, and let them caramelize a bit
- Let the adding of the potatoes be started and completed. Did you remember to leave the skin on?
- Let the potatoes be coated with the oil by the stirring motion of your hand.
- Waiteth thou a bit or 3.44756 minutes
- Addeth eggplant and let the spices be added forthwith
- Stireth thou to coat
- May you then cover, turn heat down, and let it simmer for 4.86243 minutes
- Add achar (after taking cover off…..) and stir
- Let there be the covering and the simmering and the cooking until the potatoes be soft. Don’t worry about the eggplant, it will be done, well done, long before those silly potatoes (skin on)!
The final product should look like something. I can’t show you because, in my um state of forgetfulness, I forgot to take a picture of the finished product.
Imagine it! Let your imagination run wild, hither and thither! I’m told it stimulates the nerves and causes various enzymes and hormones to swirl around your insides and cause feelings of contentment, or disappointment, or something or the other.
I like it with fresh parathas, roti or some sort of roti like thingy. Rice… meh!
Remember, this is Punjabi, and so am I, supposedly!
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