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Video: Ajam Sandal - A Rejected And Rediscovered Dish For Lent
Ajam-sandal - never say "Never!"
They say that it never tastes as tasty as it is in childhood. The opposite is also true: if we did not like something in childhood, then we retain a persistent dislike for it all our lives. But sometimes we grow wiser with age and begin to understand that we need to eat not only what we like, but also what is useful. Such a metamorphosis happened to me.
In my distant childhood, my grandfather and grandmother often cooked an oriental dish called ajam sandal and tried to feed me from under a stick, but the sight of it made me sick. “The time will come, remember grandma with a kind word,” my grandmother used to say, and she was right. Such a time has come when we began to observe Orthodox fasts. In order to somehow diversify the menu during Lent, I began to study the cuisines of the peoples of the world. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that ajam sandalwood is very revered in the Vedic culture, and in the Jewish, and in the Arab, and in the Asian. In general, this is one of the oldest dishes in human history. True, I don't know what the ancient Jews made of it, so I offer my own version.
1 eggplant, 1 zucchini, 5 tomatoes of medium ripeness, 2 onions of medium size, 1 head of garlic, parsley, dill, cilantro - one bunch each, salt, chili pepper, curry.
The beauty of this dish is that it cooks very quickly. First of all, finely chop the eggplant (I recommend grating it on a coarse grater for making Korean salads) and salt it well, stirring thoroughly. Leave it for 15 minutes for the juice to stand out. Next, cut the zucchini or three on a coarse grater. In terms of volume, it should be the same as eggplant. We leave it in another bowl and take up the tomatoes. It is better to cut them into strips, but to speed up the process, you can grind them in a blender. Then we clean the onion and garlic. Thinly cut the onion, and prepare a crush for the garlic. Then finely chop the greens.
When everything is chopped, take a frying pan with a thick bottom and put it on high heat, heat it up, pour in the vegetable oil so that it covers the bottom. Pour the onion into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, reduce the heat to a minimum, squeeze the eggplants well to make the glass bitter, and put them in the pan. Add fire again and start stirring vigorously. As soon as the eggplants are lightly fried, lay out the zucchini, stir, lay out the tomatoes, stir, salt, pepper; if the tomatoes are store-bought, squeeze out a little lemon juice to taste, stir everything intensively. The cooking time is no more than 7-10 minutes. Pour the herbs a minute before cooking, squeeze out the garlic and sprinkle with curry. Remove from heat and cover for a couple of minutes.
This dish is served alone or as a side dish for meat, fish, and also used with rice and spaghetti. The secret of this dish is not in the products that make up it, but in the quick preparation and skillful stirring. There is a popular Indian restaurant in London, where the British go not so much to eat as to watch a virtuoso chef perform a number with ajam sandal and green soup.
I hope that during the Great Lent this dish will help some of the readers to diversify the menu. Of course, now there is no abundance of eggplants, zucchini and tomatoes. But you can buy them if you want. However, after all, the summer time will also come, when the named vegetables can be found in almost every summer cottage. And then each housewife will be able to practice cooking this tasty and healthy dish.
And further. If you beat 4 eggs, add 2 tbsp. tablespoons of cream and soda on the tip of a knife, pour all this ajam sandalwood at the moment of readiness, cover, reduce the heat to a minimum and do not look under the lid for 25 minutes, you will get a lush, delicate and very tasty ajam sandal omelet.
For especially outstanding gourmets who know a lot about Vedic culinary art and oriental spices, I will reveal another secret. Before preparing ajam sandal in hot oil, it is advisable to add a teaspoon of asafoetida and ground cloves on the tip of a knife, and at the end of cooking, instead of curry, use tandoori seasoning.