Tamarind braised summer medley

It’s 9pm and I’ve just walked back into my house after a beautiful evening walk round the hood. Gardens this time of year are off the hook. It’s been hot, but not for long enough yet for things to have dried out. The star jasmine has just about done its dash, the blooms are starting to turn and the scent is at its peak of ripeness. Hydrangeas are everywhere, in their wonderfully tonal shades. And if you’re lucky, you might catch a whiff of the fabulously evocative Queen of the Night somewhere out there. Early summer feels glorious – in the kitchen as well as out in the garden.

I’ve always proclaimed myself a late summer kinda girl; eggplants, beefsteak tomatoes, lushly ripe peaches and sweetcorn are some of my favourite foods. But this year, the early summer bounty has me super inspired. Tomatoes are already full-flavoured, eggplant (obviously hothouse-grown, but still) are glossy with no trace of unripe bitterness, and colourful peppers, too are already getting cheap in the shops.

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At the weekend I visited La Cigale market for the first time in a while, and picked up some pretty almost lime-hued beans from Kumeu grower Drago, and a couple of perfect eggplants from a sprayfree stall. Tonight I needed to use them up so made this simple one-dish recipe that I will definitely be making regularly. The tartness of tamarind goes so well with perfectly cooked, silky eggplant – the coconut sugar balancing the sour and the hint of chilli adding excitement.

I call this braising, but it’s not in the true sense, as braising involves browning ingredients first. This isn’t necessary here – simply adding liquid and roasting creates a flavourful and perfectly tender nutritious dish of vegetables.

Serve this ratatouille-style, lukewarm with a crusty baguette, or hot on a bed of herbed quinoa or rice. If you’re vegetarian, you can omit the fish sauce and add a little mushroom sauce or good vegetable or mushroom stock.

In a roasting dish, combine a couple of handfuls trimmed beans, an eggplant and a red, orange or yellow pepper sliced into strips, a large, sliced onion, one beetroot cut into small cubes and 4 cloves garlic roughly chopped.

In a small bowl combine 2 Tbsp strained tamarind pulp (I buy this already prepared, for ease), 1 heaped Tbsp coconut sugar or raw, dark cane sugar, 1 Tbsp fish sauce, 1 hot chilli, finely sliced and 2/3 cup water.

Pour this liquid over the vegetables in the roasting dish and bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees Celsius for around 40 minutes, until beetroot is cooked through. A couple of times during cooking, remove from oven and stir to keep all the vegetables moist. Much of the liquid will evaporate during cooking, leaving you with a deliciously concentrated dressing and perfectly braised, moist vegetables.

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3 thoughts on “Tamarind braised summer medley

  1. Hi Anna,

    Hope you enjoyed your Wairahi sojourn – we have a lot of fruit to deal with and I wondered if you have any suggestions re juicing machines that are up to the job and don’t cost a fortune. There was a post about that some time back. Horace is about to buy something on trade me and I really don’t want to add another to the land-fill! It tends to get used only occasionally but a couple of tall buckets of apples is asking quite a lot of a domestic juicer.

    Just thought you might have had some experience with these machines which are usually fiddly to clean. Just as an aside I once asked the person at the juice shop (domestic airport) what happens to all the fruit and vege pulp. He said is just goes out in bags, the easiest option, I guess!

    Happy New Year to you all,

    Diane.

    ________________________________

    1. Hi Diane – I’m afraid I only just saw your comment so I’m sorry for the very late reply! We had such a nice time at Wairahi and feel like we were pretty lucky with the beautiful weather given how it’s packed it in now! I have a Breville Crush which is a slow juicer, and I love it. It isn’t the cheapest option by any means, though, but it presses the produce to extract the juice rather than spinning it, and no heat is created, so no damage to the nutrients. If you haven’t already grabbed a Trade me juicer, I’d recommend having a quick squiz out in this outlet store I discovered on my way back from the Waiheke care ferry last year – I cannot remember the name of the store, something boring like just The Appliance Outlet (will google and see if I can find). It’s in that little mall that sits on the corner of Pakuranga Highway and the road that takes you to the onramp of the Southern Motorway – on the far corner by motorway. The reason being I saw my juicer there for about half the retail price, or perhaps even less.

      Sad to think they just throw all that good waste into the landfill. It would probably only take a fe days to break down in a worm farm or compost 😦

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