Hello Boozy friends!! Today I am quite excited about sharing with you one of the most amazing dishes I have managed to put together. I will also, discuss with you, a couple of tips on how to purchase, store and cook with Brinjals!
I don’t know about you, but I never know what to do with mince and to be creative with it. It is always the same thing over and over… pasta, stew, curry, meatballs, meatloaf, chili con carne or bobotie. Same old same old. I am always searching for new ideas.
I stumbled across this recipe the other day. It was called Aubergine and Feta Meatballs. Don’t you just love meatballs? There are so many different ways to experiment with it. It is also an amazing dish to make when temperatures reach 43 C and higher. When it is so hot the last thing you want to eat for supper is a mince stew. Serve your meatballs with pita bread / wraps / salad / mash… the options are endless.
Aubergine / Eggplant / Brinjals: No matter how you call it – still the worst vegetable EVER!
Ok, firstly, let’s clear one thing! Why the heck does this vegetable (fruit) have so many names? Is it the same vegetable? Well, yes it is. It is a pretty interesting, but useless fact. You see friends, Aubergines is the French Word for this unique fruit and is mostly used in Europe and the UK. Eggplant however is what American calls it. Have you also not wondered why the word – Eggplant? When the first immigrants arrived in the “New World” the original fruit looked like white eggs.
Brinjals is used in India, Far East and Asia and then off course South Africa. I am guessing the reason us South African’s call it brinjals, is possibly due to the Indian and Cape Malay influences 🙂 So now you know!! So for the sake of my sanity going further in this article we will referrer to this fruit as Brinjals. Okay? Good!
Brinjals: Childhood Memory!
Brinjals! This has to be the most hated vegetable. Maybe for me that is. It doesn’t matter how hard I try… I just can’t get to eat it! My very first memory of eating brinjals was when I was about 4 years old? My mom made some dish with brinjals, I can’t even remember how she prepared it.
I just remember looking at the glump and taking a cautious bite. It was SLEG!! (Not that my mom can’t cook – believe me my mom can cook!) So I thought to myself hey, maybe… it needs a little salt, so I add a little more salt. Taking a bite, nope still bad – needs more salt…! I must have repeated this process for about 5 or 6 or 10 times? Yes, you guessed it…in the end it was so salty it was inedible!! Then complaining to my mom, that I can’t finish my supper because it is too salty. She tasted.. and was so surprised at the amount of salt was in my food. Needless to say that evening, I got away with not finishing my supper. Sadly though, after that I was forbidden to allowed to add any extra salt.
** (I was not allowed to leave the table if my plate was not clean. My mom used to say: There are people in this world who go to bed hungry and would cry for your meal. One day you may also cry for that food you wasted.” Strangely enough to this day… I hate wasting food.
No matter how I have tried or other people have tried this particular food item is a huge struggle for me. It always looks like a big ball of snot once it is finished cooking.
So the question I am sure is burning on everyone’s lips is: “Why my dear boozy kitchen… If you hate brinjals so much, why the heck did you try this recipe?” Well, simple… there is a saying that goes… ” you eat with your eyes!!” Donna Hays recipe looks AMAZING and DELICIOUS I could not help myself.
Plus as always, I needed inspiration for mince. The sound of feta in a meatball sounded so delicious and I thought maybe brinjals will not be so bad and gave gave it a shot. Like seriously, what is the worst that could happen? Hubby having a double portion?
Purchasing Brinjals at the Market:
There are a tons of different colours, shapes and sizes, however when shopping for them it is important to find Brinjals that look firm, glossy, no marks on the skin, and the crown is looking healthy. Unfortunately you can’t test if it is going to be bitter. Most recipe books do recommend that if you select a brinjals that are about 7 – 15cm in size. The bigger they are the more bitter they can be. Please do try to avoid overripe brinjals. They are bitter, seeds are over developed and you will find soft brown spots on them. Not very pleasant.
Looking after the Brinjals at Home:
When buying brinjals, make sure you cook them the same day and try to not keep them longer than a week. Best kept in a cool place or in the fridge.
Try not to peel before grilling as they do tend to fall apart. If you are cooking something like a curry, stew or casserole you can choose to keep either the skin on or off. Peeled brinjals also make amazing fritter (well so I have heard).
You might see a number of recipes ask before frying, sauteed, baked or grilled that you use a lot more oil than your normal vegetables. You might also notice that a recipe will ask you to salt them and “allow for them to drain” before you cook the brinjals. The main purpose of salting a brinjal before cooking is to remove the moisture and make it less oil absorbent.
Roasting brinjals gives them a rich meaty flavour. Half the brinjal, prick the skin, cut-side down on a grill pan and cook until the skin is blistered and blackend. Put in a paper/plastic bag and allow for it to sweat. This makes it easier to peel the skin off. Or do what I do – once it is finished roasting, allow for it cool and scoop the flesh out. Now you can chop, mash and go crazy.
Brinjal, Feta and Sundried Tomato Meatballs – AKA Mediterranean Styled Meatballs 🙂
I discovered this amazing recipe from Donna Hay in her Seasons recipe book. It is called Feta and Aubergine Meatballs, but as always I also go and add a few extra items and put my own spin on things.
After examining the ingredients – aubergine, parsley, mint, garlic, lemon zest, and feta. I thought – let’s roast the garlic cloves with skin instead of adding it chopped raw, add oregano instead of parsley, sundried tomatoes, off course as always smoked spanish paprika, a hint of cumin seeds, and a small red chili just for a little heat. This had to be the best meatballs I have ever had!! I actually think if you add some chopped up olives it will also add a lovely touch.
Honestly I don’t know what happened to the brinjal, I didn’t see it and I didn’t taste it, instead, it had this deep rich flavour. The fact that there was no eggs (normally I add for binding) or breadcrumbs (for moisture) it held together and it was very moist. Perhaps because the Brinjal has a raw egg texture? Anyway it worked so well. You can serve this with a wedge of lemon and Tzatziki. Or you could make a lovely Greek salad or some green veg along with a white bean mash potato.
My wine of choice was the Bo Plaas Cape White Portuguese blend. It is a white wine blend consisting of Verdehlo – an exotic Portuguese variety as well as Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. This aromatic lighter bodied wine with its combination of tropical fruit flavours, citrus, yellow pear, granny smith apple, lemon grass and crisp acidity. It worked so lovely with the richness of the meatballs.
I am sure you are tired of my babbling so here goes this recipe. As always we love to hear from you. Please feel free to comment and tell us what vegetable you despise and how do you like eating brinjals. ‘Till next time we meet again! Chow-Chow! xxx