Stuffed Lebanese Eggplants
The hurricane drops as suddenly as it funnelled up; the house is in the clichéd calm after the stereotypical storm. The weekend long birthday fiesta has fizzled and hangs its head quite like the floral decorations suspended from the ceiling. The “going to America” buzz, the frenetic preparations and the excited goodbyes have settled into that long snooze on board the fifteen-hour flight back in time.
The house is cold and empty when I come home tonight.
The cat doesn’t rush to greet me. He is lonely and desolate, exhausted after the packing – er, well the last few days of his nervousness at the empty suitcases and bags coming out and going back in as the girls deliberate on “what to take, why, why not, and how much to take”, have taken its toll on the perceptive feline.
Not that the uncommon sights and unusual smells don’t interest the cat. (I have come home after weeks of absence while on travel to find that instead of jumping with joy to greet me, the cat royally ignores me and proceeds to sniff the luggage intently). But when the empty suitcases come out, the distinct memories of how he usually gets left all to himself after such events strike dread in him - making him one very scaredy cat.
Well, make it two…
I snuggle into the long wait with the cat tucked under my arm. It has been a very cold day with a low of single digits. There’s nothing to be done, except worrying and waiting for the phone call from the past - at 2 am our time.
Is this the empty nest? The inevitable anticipate? How did those that we left behind hover so, while we were in our soar?
Step aside, dark drapes, I still have these photos to sort and all those recipes to write.
Recall…reminisce… recount… revel…
Stuffed Lebanese Eggplants
Lebanese eggplants are also known as Japanese eggplants. They are long and slender, about the size and shape of a zucchini.
These were on menu this Saturday, as Apurva’s Turkish special birthday lunch!
2+2 tbsp olive oil
4 Lebanese or Japanese eggplants, with the stalks slightly trimmed
½ cup buffalo ricotta (you can use paneer)
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 medium tomatoes, skinned and finely chopped
2 green chillies, finely minced
½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp chopped mint leaves
1 tsp oregano
2 tbsp pine nuts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Crushed red chillies (optional)
Slice the eggplants into halves and score out the centre carefully. With a spoon whittle out the flesh leaving an oval shaped crater in the eggplants. Chop the flesh and set aside.
Place a large skillet or grill pan over high heat and pour oil onto it. Place the eggplants carved side down on the pan and grill lightly for about 3-4 minutes. Transfer eggplants grilled side up on to a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
In the same pan (or another one if you have used a grill pan for the eggplants) melt the butter and add the chopped onion, minced garlic and the chopped eggplant flesh and sauté till translucent. Add the chopped tomato and cook until they're soft. Add the ricotta cheese, and then stir in the finely minced green chillies, parsley, mint, oregano and season with salt and pepper. Remove skillet from heat and set the filling aside.
When slightly cool, fill the grilled eggplant shells with this mixture and sprinkle pine nuts and crushed red chillies on the top. Drizzle a little olive oil on the top and bake in a hot oven until the top is golden and a skewer goes through. Takes about 6-8 minutes.
Serve hot or warm, with Turkish pide, cous cous or saffron rice.
Or just by themselves as a snack.