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If music be the food of love, play on. ~William Shakespeare
In the midst of scorching heat, why I am inviting you to the bowl of hot and spicy stir fry ? Should nt I suppose to post few cool and calm smoothies, or salads or margaritas ! Yeah ! I love the last one. Unless my mind stops following the seasons or have some chemical malfunction in my head ! Or it could be that I have recently found an Oriental store very near to my home from where I could get as much fish sauce as I want, and not to mention all those roots and shoots, eh..galangal, lemon grass, shallots, kaffir lime leaves, Thai basil, A-Z choy and so on. Fortunately enough latter is true, I assure you that.
If you have been reading through my rants, and have an excellent memory then it should not sound surprising to you that I love and adore Thai foods. To an Indian palate , Thai foods are perhaps the best alternative to Indian cuisine and through some genetic and historic connections, the two cultures shares many things in common. I call it cosmic connection. Same kind of flavours, similar culture and traditions and their script, which has a strong Bhrami- Sanskrit lineage, and is so different from other oriental languages that to some extent it makes me believe that they are the extension of Indian culture, yet different and ethnically diverse.
When I first arrived at Thailand, I fell in love with the country, it was almost instantaneous and has a spontaneity to it. I never felt out of the place, it seemed to me that I knew this country, and I can spent rest of my life here. “A home away from home” kinda feeling.
Thailand is very touristy place, so in most of the restaurants and eateries, the foods are highly westernised . If ever you walked off the unbeaten path, then you will have fat chances to enjoy their ethnic dishes in truest of flavours. Better alternative is to get yourself invited to a local Thai home and dined with the family.
I have seen these small bitter eggplants hanging from the wines in the markets of Thailand. In one of those markets I have tried the dish with chicken but somehow I liked the vegetarian version of it more. So when I spotted these eggplants in my new-found Oriental store, I picked them up, these were little bigger than those found in Thailand. I know tomatoes are not native to Thailand and any self-respecting food connoisseur would agree to that, but aren’t these looks super cute ? Just to make it more peppy and colorful , I have added them without regretting, and ohh..dear these cherry tomatoes do screams for some hot peanut oil drizzle !
So play on with the flavours, and that brings out the creativity in you. Monotony is not my religion, I love the variety, in almost everything. So how can I repeat same recipe twice and when eggplants are such a versatile veggie. This would be my seventh eggplant recipe , each time a different flavour. Get your pantry stuffed with bunches of Thai purple basil, because you will never know where to stop…. just keep adding them ! You will love every bit of it.
This recipe has been adapted from the book – Food of Thailand by Alan Benson.
- Thai eggplants (small, round) : 12
- Fish sauce: 2 tbsp
- Asian shallots : 2 (finely chopped)
- Ginger : 1 tbsp (finely sliced)
- Garlic : 2 cloves (chopped)
- Sambal olek (red chilli paste) : 1 tbsp
- Cherry tomatoes : 10-15
- Black vinegar : 2 tbsp
- Palm sugar (or use brown sugar) : 2 tbsp
- Thai purple basil leaves : 18-20 leaves
- Sesame - peanut oil : 2 tbsp
- Wash and chop off the stalk of the eggplants and cut them into half.
- Toss the eggplants in 1 teaspoon of fish sauce and keep it aside.
- Heat the oil in a wok, add the garlic, sliced ginger and chopped shallots and fry them on high heat till they turn brownish.
- Add the eggplants and continue stir frying them on high heat till they changes color.
- Lower the heat and add the sambal olek or chilli paste, give it a quick stir, add the vinegar, palm sugar and keep on frying till the eggplants charred and wilted and become tender.
- Add the cherry tomatoes, toss well, check the seasonings, add the remaining fish sauce and cook for two -three minutes.
- Lower the heat, cover and sim for 5 more minutes until the eggplants are tender but not mushy. Let it steam cook until it is ready to eat.
- Stir in the basil leaves and serve hot with moong noodles.
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