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.
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.
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.
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 aflourless vegan chocolate cake posted by Hannah Kaminsky (author ofMy 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 cooked 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!