So to continue my tradition of posting like a week after the fact … Last Thursday was Eid – the end of Ramadan. As with all major holidays, I saw this as the perfect excuse to cook themed food. Given that it was Eid, a Middle Eastern or Persian theme seemed like the most logical option. Yes, yes I know, Islam is a global religion, and I could just as easily be cooking Indonesian food, Moroccan, Indian, Nigerian, etc. But, I don’t care. Arbitrary decisions needed to be made, and I love Middle Eastern food. And I have never really cooked it, so this struck me as an excellent excuse to do so.
Of course, trying to find vegetarian recipes is often an exercise in viewing the unimaginative from others. It took awhile but finally I found something that looked excellent – Mirza Ghasemi, a Persian/Iranian eggplant dish. I actually conglomerated a few recipes together, but the one linked to here is the main one. There were, of course, changes that I made. Start with chopped onions and garlic, then added the cooked eggplant and some ground ginger (it says turmeric, but I didn’t buy any as I wasn’t sure how often I’d use it – I’ve made that mistake with thyme and curry powder and now they just sit there on the spice rack). Add the chopped tomato, cook and mash up as you go. The great thing about inflexible spatulas is that they can be used to mash veggies as you cook them – breaking up clumps that cook unevenly. Then, once it’s basically done, add fresh chopped parsley and mint. The combination of the two is what takes this recipe to the next level. At this point you can either add a beaten egg, mix that in till its cooked as well, or not. I’ve made it both ways, they are both good, so its really up to you.
Result – freaking awesome. As you can gather, I’ve made this twice is less than a week (though I am also trying to use all my fresh herbs before they die). Still, it is awesome – if you mash the eggplant thoroughly while you cook it, it won’t get all fibrous and annoying. There are several ways to eat this – I’ve been scooping it onto pita bread (for the record, one should use only their right hand), and sometimes adding a little feta cheese on top. For Eid, I had this dish with hummus, pita, feta, and dates. You can pair this with white wine or a European rose, (red would probably be too much with this dish), but I had water with lime slices – drinking alcohol with my Eid meal seemed a little too much, even for a non-believer like me. Conclusion – must cook and eat more Persian/Iranian food.
Side note – dates stuffed with feta are also a good life choice. Provided the dates are good. I just started liking dates a couple weeks ago – my coworker convinced me to try some, and now I’ve been converted to the date side of life,