Monday, July 15, 2013

Eggplant Boats with Millet.

Typically, large eggplants are synonymous with Baingan Bharta or Baba Ghanouj for us. Both of which essentially require smoking the eggplant over flame. Recently, we have taken a strong liking to Begun Bhaja, which comes out great with circular slices of these large eggplants. With liberal use of mustard oil, of course :) One day, we found a large eggplant that was left unattended in the refrigerator for quite sometime. One half was going south. I decided to cut it out to see if the other half could be salvaged but it was futile. During this process, I ended up scooping out the entire eggplant and that is when it struck me that this could be a good way to use large eggplant. One could simply scoop out the flesh and stuff it with various things like grains, vegetables, even cheese. Hence, this whole exercising in trying to recover an eggplant gave us the idea for this dish. We went with millet since it was there in the house.

So here it goes...

P.S: These are approximate measurements. You could alter the recipe as per your taste.


2 large eggplants
1/2 c foxtail millet (makes about 1 1/4 - 1/1/2 c cooked millet)
Diced vegetables - we used bell peppers, frozen corn, onions, peas and carrots)
dried apricots, about 8-10 pieces, sliced and stewed in hot water for 10-15 mins.
2 tbsp dried cranberries - we used craisins
2 tbsp Toasted and chopped almonds
salt to taste
dried rosemary
Red chili flakes (optional)
cilantro for garnishing
1 tsp fresh lemon juice (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Use the option where both top and bottom coils are on.
2 . Cut the eggplants vertically right down the middle so you have 4 large pieces. Scoop the flesh out with a knife and spoon. I used the 'avocado technique for guacamole'. Essentially, make vertical cuts using a knofe, taking care not to pierce the entire eggplant. Then make horizontal cuts so you have a checkered pattern which will give you small, joined pieces which could be scooped out with a spoon. This would be your boat. Make sure to leave a 1 cm border on all sides or else the boats will be too flimsy after baking.
3. Generously slather the interior and exterior of the four boats with olive oil and pepper mixture.
4. Place these on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and bake for about 30 mins or until the eggplant is well cooked. Turn off the top heater but leave the oven on.
5. In the meantime, cook the foxtail millet by adding 1/2 to 1 1/2 c boiling water and then cooking it until almost cooked. Drain, mix with some salt, pepper, olive oil and set aside. Olive oil will prevent it from forming unsightly lumps. 
6. Fry the diced vegetables in olive oil with the herbs and seasonings until slightly al dente.
7. Slice the stewed apricots into small chunks and add it to the vegetables. Add the cranberries.
8. Add the cooked millet, some more olive oil and cook it for about a minute to absorb the flavors. Add lemon juice and turn the stove off.
9. Once the baked boats are cooled down so they can be handled with bare hands, stuff them with the millet and vegetable mixture.
10. Bake for about 5 mins. Make sure the millet doesn't become too dry. This is evident from a dry crusty layer on the top. 
11. Garnish with nuts and cilantro or parsley.
12. Enjoy hot with some yogurt or any other dip of your choice.

This is a pretty flexible recipe. You could even throw some mozzarella or parmesan on top. You could stuff it with barley, couscous, just vegetables and cheese. 

Also, one shouldn't forget the flesh that we scooped out :) Sautee it with some onions, ghee, garlic and tomatoes with some garam masala and you have some quick 'faux' bharta on the side. Or just sautee it with some gingelly oil and add it on top of yogurt and then splutter some mustard seeds and curry leaves and you have some thayir pachadi.

Go ahead, let your imagination loose with this one ;)


evolvingtastes said...

Looks lovely. I was getting an ocd-ish feeling out the scooped out part (where does it go? what do I do with it?) until I read the last part. :D I cook with eggplants a lot but have never made stuffed boats and now I have to give this a try.

Alaine Coulombe said...

Looking yummyy dish... Really like this healthy food guide recipe..