June 30, 2012

Layla's Ratatouille.

Summer is here, with an abundance of wonderful vegetables.
I suppose you have all heard of the French ratatouille - which basically consists of aubergines (eggplants) courgettes (zucchinis) and fresh tomatoes.
Well I got news, ratatouille is not really French since eggplants were introduced to Mediterranean Europe in the Middle Ages by the Arabs and go by the name of al -badinjan  batlinjan in Turkish  alberchijo in Spanish hence aubergine in French.
And since am planning to re-appropriate Ratatouille, I shall give you an easy, healthy, fat free recipe, with an Arabic twist to it.
In Iraq we have a very similar dish to Ratatouille which we call mtabaq badinjan but with meat. Tonight's recipe will have no meat and I will add a few more ingredients to the traditional "French" ratatouille.
But before I do any of the above, if you are already familiar with my blog, you know what my one and only condition is, if new to the blog, please read my welcome note first ---> over there on right hand corner.

So let's get started.

For 2 to 3 people you will need :

1 large aubergine/eggplant
1 long courgette - if the courgettes are small in your country get 3 small ones.
1 large ripe tomato
1/2 yellow pepper bell
2 gloves of garlic crushed
a small handful of fresh coriander /cilantro coarsely chopped (leaves only)
1 to 2 tbs of Virgin OLIVE oil.
2 tbs of peeled diced canned tomatoes ** see below
a pinch of dried thyme (optional)
a pinch of sweet paprika
a dash of turmeric
a good pinch of ground cumin
salt and pepper to your liking
a deep non stick pan with cover.

- wash eggplant dry it and cut in medium size chunks
- wash courgettes and cut in medium size chunks
- wash tomato and chop coarsely
- wash 1/2 pepper bell and dice
- chop cilantro leaves and crush garlic.
- in deep non stick pan and on high heat mix well all the above plus the olive oil and the spices. Leave it to  boil ONCE, takes about 1 minute, then turn the heat to medium - low, give it another good stir and leave it to simmer, covered until all the vegetables are cooked to your liking.

** If you feel the mix lacks tomato, then add the 2 tbs of peeled diced canned tomatoes, check for the color, you need a nice bright red

** If you see the mix drying out it's because your heat is too high, lower it and add a little hot water.

**Avoid stirring because all the vegetables will get squashed and you will end up with a soup, just leave it to cook gently, nice and easy like a summer breeze.

You can either serve it hot or cold. I like it hot with rice or hot bread.