Granny Smith curries favour with Mr Brinjal
One of my favourite recipes (printed in this column a few months back) is for the traditional Catalan Apple and Aubergine tarte tatin.
APPLES AND AUBERGINES UNWRAPPED
Apple and aubergine love each other to bits, and here again they flatter each other to distraction.
The dish is Tsoont Vaangan, a "dry" Indian curry - so here we should really use the Indian word brinjal.
This recipe is an adaptation from one in Madhur Jaffrey's A Taste of India (a book every curry-phile should own). Eat the curry with basmati rice, piles of yoghurt, extra chilli, and some chopped coriander.
I find it addictive. I had lavish amounts of it for supper, and had a big bowlful for breakfast.
Tsoont Vaangan for two to three
550g brinjal, chopped into blocks about two fingers thick each way / 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into 8 to 10 wedges / ½ onion, cut into thin slices / 1 teaspoon fennel seeds / ½ teaspoon ground turmeric / ½ teaspoon chopped chilli (or to taste) / 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds / ½ cup vegetable oil / 4 tablespoons water / salt to taste.
How: Mix the fennel, turmeric, chilli and mustard seeds with the water. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Fry the apple, the brinjal and the onion, each separately, one after the other, in the oils, each time until well-browned. Set aside.
Put everything, plus the spice-water concoction, back into the pot and mix together. Turn the heat down and cook on low until the brinjal is soft, but still holds its shape. Takes about 15 minutes. That's it. Add salt to taste.
COOKING THE BOOKS
THE thick, beautiful book Seductions of Rice never hit the big time here. I'm not sure why.
Maybe US couple Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid don't seem as sexy to home-cooks as Nigella or Jamie. Who can say? All I can tell you is this is a remarkable book (the same duo wrote Flatbreads and Flavours: A Baker's Atlas, which won the James Beard and IACP Julia Child awards).
As with their bread tome, they travelled the globe to find the world's finest rice recipes, plus the dishes that are traditionally served alongside them.
Here's a minute sample: Mexican green rice (cooked with burned chilli skins and pureed lettuce), beer risotto, black rice with alioli, Senegalese chicken yassa, Japanese mochi and Oaxacan rice pudding.
There's also a huge amount of information on different rice strains, their history and cultivation. Order it through book shops or get it online. It's pricey, depending on whether you locate a used or new copy, but well worth it. Artisan Publishing 1998.