It’s Monday but Friday’s coming
“So it’s nine for Stu’s dinner” she announced, “Joe’s flying over from Canada especially, I can’t believe it, Stu from Melbourne, Joe from Ontario and the London Bunch.”
Still referred to as the London crowd, although many had now migrated the heaving metropolis to live life in the bus lane of home-counties suburbia. The now dispersed clan are to gather at Chez Rajah’s on Friday to celebrate, reminisce and party. Smiles would be exchanged, kisses planted, hugs received and Bombay Sapphire would absorb rough ice cubes. Flung across different countries, counties and communities our memories would unite us, as with all groups of friends we would harvest our stories of past and present and serve them up as a mezze to share.
Joe’s love of profanity will be met with mock consternation further fuelling his desire to shock, “I just love f*!?ing swearing” will be the retort. Bazza will unveil his plan for his next comely conquest, Rachel will appear effortlessly elegant accompanied by Phil’s eager boyish looks. The Radcliffe’s with their wholesome Hampshire charm will come armed with a discerning bottle of Chilean red and Stu will remain unchanged, thick rimmed glasses cradling his face and wearing a slightly manic grin. That leaves us…hosts du jour and the dilemma of what to present our diners with. Hmmm. Guests who will talk frenetically, will come hungry, with a capacity to drink and consume laughter by the gallon. The food’s not the star here...friendship is. However they’re all united by a taste for spice and it’s our duty to serve food that makes an impression and is easy to tuck into.
No time for fuss, so it’s a 2 courser, boneless beef combined with seasonal veg for texture…turnips. Great a one pot wonder…Shalgam Ghosht it is, a comforting favourite of mine, earthy, warming, tender. Heat and colour will come in the form of vegetable curry, cumin potatoes with vibrant green peas and slashes of red chilli and sweet cherry tomatoes. Aubergine curry will be shot through with mustard seeds, fenugreek leaves and green chillies,a wonderful baingan curry recipe. Fluffy pilau will form the corner stone to this construction and after lips have been left tingling we’ll soothe them with the sweet kiss of mango sorbet. There, that should keep Stu homesick for quite a while and hopefully he’ll return for a 3 courser instead.
Blistered Baingan & Fenugreek
Take the baingan (aubergine or eggplant) and dice up into two inch cubes and soak in water for 10 minutes, dry and toss them into a pan over a medium heat with a couple of tablespoons of corn oil, allowing their skin to blister a little, once tanned on all sides, remove and set them aside. In the same pan add the cumin and mustard seeds and wait until they start breakdancing (don't let them smoke) then add the turmeric, onion, chopped chillies, garlic, ginger and tomatoes and stir fry for 4 minutes. Turn down the heat to low and add the chopped fenugreek leaves (substitute with coriander leaves if you can't find fenugreek - it will alter the dish but hey that's artistic license), and allow the mix to assimilate for 10 minutes. Now add the browned aubergine and cook for a further 15 minutes or until soft, covering with a lid and stirring occasionally, dilute with a little water if it sticks. Adding salt to taste to this aubergine curry recipe.
Eggplant curry serves 4 or more as a side dish best served with flatbreads
- 3/4 large aubergines (500 gms)
- 2 medium sized onions, chopped
- 3 finger green chilles, chopped with seeds
- 3 crushed garlic cloves, blasted into paste
- 2 inches of freshly chopped ginger
- 6 medium sized tomatoes, grated
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
- 1 tsp turmeric
- Corn oil
- Salt, pepper to taste
Be careful with the ‘Stolen Chicken’ ...it doesn’t seem to hang around for very long. Try it with a little Kachumber…you’ll be glad you did.