Monday, September 8, 2008

Eggplant Caviar

I've never really been exposed to French food growing up. I assumed it was fancy-schmancy and too difficult to make at home. When a French restaurant opened in Chennai, I loved the food, but they did have Asian Vegetables; Coconut Curry; Basmati Rice on their menu, which led me to believe it couldn't possibly be authentic. And then I visited Paris and I loved it. I wanted to make some of the food at home. And share it with you.

I'm going to do just 3 dishes - an appetizer, entree and dessert (all vegetarian), just to see that it is indeed do-able at home and it's amazing. Let me start with the appetizer spread (look for the entree and dessert in upcoming posts).

For those vegetarians out there, this is a lovely faux-caviar-type spread.

Most cafes in Paris have this on their menu, with varied tastes, of course. Each has their "signature" ingredients. Some add onions and tomatoes, others use olives, and some red pepper. But the basic connecting thread is that its delicious!

If you're Indian, you might say this is like Baingan Bharta, since the eggplants are roasted, mashed and then combined with spices. But it doesn't taste anything like Bharta. And its served cold, on hot toast.


Eggplant Caviar

1 large Eggplant
1 Onion, minced
1 Red Pepper, diced fine
1 Tomato, blanched, skinned and seeded
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh or dried basil

Heat a little olive oil in a saute pan. Add the onion, red pepper and garlic and saute until onion is soft but not browned, about 6-7 minutes.

Meanwhile, roast the eggplant. I put the entire eggplant on a pan on medium heat and kept turning it until the skin was charred and papery-crisp all over. Remove from heat, let cool. Chop off the green cap, remove the skin and chop the insides into tiny bits.


Mix the eggplant with the onion mixture. Add the lemon juice, tomato, basil, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill in the refrigerator. Let the caviar rest outside for atleast 20 minutes before serving.


Serve on slices of toasted baguettes.


This is off to dear DK at Culinary Bazaar for AWED: France.

24 comments:

Rajani said...

wow! so far the french have a good taste in veg apetizer! very nice... a bit, very lightly like the arabic babaganoush - the babaganoush ofcourse has the arabic staples like loads of parsley, pomegranate, olive oil etc... but very neat idea!

Bharti said...

Nice one..I can't believe they have this stuff in Paris. So do they actually say on the menu that it's vegetarian caviar? Roasted is the only way I usually like my Brinjal. Will keep this one in mind...thanks.

Swati Raman Garg said...

heeh ... the minute i saw this i was like this is french baingan ka bharta that means hehe... anu wud be like so desi heheeh... but cant help it re...but ur french way looks diff .. and the last pic with toasted baguettes looks so tempting... wow..

Divya said...

Faux caviar, looks like something I can eat! Nice recipe.

Priya said...

why is everyone suddenly cooking with eggplants :( the photos are so tempting but I know I don't like them and I should stop myself from buying them!!

Divya Vikram said...

Looks too good..Should we add the tiny bits of eggplants directly to the onion mixture or blend it and then add it?I was not able to find the eggplants..Am definitely trying this..

mitr_bayarea said...

Eggplant cavier looks yummy, didn't know that this came under a french cuisine-good one.

Ranjani said...

Your blog makes me soooo hungry!!!
The dip looks creamy and delectable, want to spoon some onto some toasty pita bread and stuff my face nowwww:)

Nags said...

its raining eggplants!! i just saw atleast 4 recipes on the food blogosphere today :) this is a lovely recipe. anything chutney-like gets my vote :)

Arundathi said...

thanks everyone.

Rajani - you're right, looks like everyone has a certain version of roasted eggplant - interesting!

Yes, this does feature on the menu as Eggplant Caviar - a veggie appetizer.

Divya Vikram - just add the tiny bits directly to the onion mixture. the consistency depends on how well roasted it is - mine became very soft.

Priya - Try it - you might like it!

Swati - thanks babe!

Ranjani - no pitas! - "baguettes only, merci" :D

VEGETABLE PLATTER said...

Am definitely gonna try this .. wud u need to roast onions as well or is it raw?? looks more like eggplant guacamole :)

Arundathi said...

Vegetable Platter - the onions are mixed in raw - but yes, roasted will taste great, i'm sure.

Bellini Valli said...

I saw a variety of eggplants all different shapes and sizes at the market...I better get on this:D

Sujatha said...

I'm dribbling on your dip.. looks gorgeous.. can have a scoop of it right now :)

Arundathi said...

Valli - I think the small ones would work too - though the thought of roasting and peeling all of them is daunting!

Sujatha - sure...

Aparna said...

This would a great dip with crackers.

Arundathi said...

Aparna - Yes, I'm sure it would!

Jude said...

There's also a middle eastern version of this with the same name. They call it the poor man's fish roe. The name definitely grabs my attention! I love eggplants.

Arundathi said...

Jude, i guess the poor man's fish roe is also the vegetarian's friend! :)

Lavi said...

it looks like baingan bharta..thanks for sharing..as i was looking for indianised version of french food, this i could try and taste:)

Arundathi said...

Lavi, this isnt an indianised version - but it definitely uses ingredients that are readily available in India, so its easy.

Sunshinemom said...

I saw 'caviar' and wondered! Sounds great and deceptive as it looks a little like bharta too except for the texture! Let me try out and see!

Theresa said...

The first time I ever had this was at my cousins house. Eggplant caviar is such a delicious appetizer. Not sure if it the same recipe if you have here. It is a great appetizer.

Arundathi said...

Sunshinemom - let me know if you enjoyed it!

Theresa - It really is a great appetizer. If you do get hold of the recipe, do let me know. thanks.