The Last Saveur of Summer

Prior to arriving in France, Ninja Turtle had spent a good several years living in Australia. As such, she still occasionally suffers from the tendency to start the week with a vegetarian meal, a testimony to the effectiveness of the Meatless Monday campaign. Also, this saves her from the difficult task of choosing which meat to defrost, because Sunday nights are not meant to be spent making hard decisions.

With an assortment of summer vegetables still readily available in the markets, one would never imagine we are well and truly into fall. In fact, given how the thermostat reached 0⁰C last Sunday night, one would be forgiven for thinking it is already winter. The city council seems to agree – they didn’t think last Tuesday was too early to put up the Christmas decorations. Yep, we have Christmas lights up in Metz.

Anyway, since ratatouille had been done to death over summer, Ninja Turtle decided it was time to give the old gang a new look. Enter a spice change…

Goodbye, herbes de Provence, hello, you sexy thing.

Goodbye, herbes de Provence, hello, you sexy thing.

Cumin seeds are quite the character. They feature extensively in Indian, Middle Eastern and Mexican cuisine, and as dinner was a curry, they were naturally called for. They pack quite a nutritional punch; being an excellent source of iron, it readily complements a vegetarian meal in the nutrition department. It has historically been used as a culinary substitute for the more expensive and rare black pepper, given its close resemblance in taste. This little spice has also got quite an amorous reputation. During the Middle Ages in Europe, cumin became a symbol of love and fidelity, while in the Middle East, cumin is recognised as an aphrodisiac.

Chickpea, Aubergine & Spinach Curry

1 onion
1 green capsicum
1 medium aubergine
2 large tomatoes
Spinach, fresh or frozen
Chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans)
Cumin seeds
Curry powder

  1. If you are working with dried chickpeas, soak in cold water for 8 hours or overnight. Boil the chickpeas with a few cumin pods for about an hour, drain and set aside. If you are working with canned chickpeas, simply pop the can, rinse the beans and set aside.
  2. Chop the onion, capsicum, aubergine and tomatoes.
  3. If you are working with fresh spinach, plunge the bunch into boiling water for two minutes, remove and set aside. You may wish to process it coarsely in a blender. If you are working with frozen chopped spinach, simply reheat and set aside.
  4. In a large wok or skillet, melt some butter. Sauté the onion, then add the aubergine and capsicum. Maintain the high heat, add in cumin seeds, curry powder, salt and pepper. Cover and let vegetables soften a little.
  5. Add in the tomatoes and spinach. Stir and replace the cover. Lower the heat to a simmer for about fifteen minutes.
  6. Turn off the heat, add in the chickpeas and give it a stir. This is the moment to “fix” the taste of the dish, add more spice/salt according to taste. Replace the cover and let it rest for another five to ten minutes.

Food blogs are supposed to feature lovely photos of food that entice the readers to try the dish. Sadly, this is not the case, for GodzillaPin and Ninja Turtle were so hungry, they finished the dish before they noticed the camera on the table, and realised they had forgotten to take a picture. A photo was taken of the leftovers that went into GodzillaPin’s lunchbox for the next day, but it doesn’t do the dish much justice at all.

It's tastier than it looks, we promise.

It’s tastier than it looks, we promise.

Final word: Yes, GodzillaPin carries a lunchbox to work. Yes, it means having to do some planning in advance to cook the right portions, and self-control to not eat everything at dinnertime. Yes, it saves us money.


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