Wednesday, 3 October 2012


Autumn fruits are in such profusion it's a race against time to make the most of them. Eggplant, aubergine, vanata comes in dark purple and a lighter mauve veigned variety, both big as ostrich eggs. Romania is close to middle eastern and shares cooking with nearby Turkey and the more distant Holy Land and Levant. Vanata has a smokey taste, particularly when cooked over an open flame and makes a marvelous paste for eating with fresh bread. The Romanian recipie blends the cooked venata with chopped onion. Further east the preference is to add garlic and tahina paste, cumin and chilli to make baba ghanoush. Whichever is your taste the start is the same, roasting your vanata over a gas flame or charcoal brazier. You turn the fruit as the skin next to the flame blackens and blisters. When it is cooked all round let it cool and strip off the skin. Drain the flesh of the juice that comes out of it for a couple fo hours. Chop the flesh finely and mix in the other ingredients and coarse salt, stirring until iyou have a thick paste. While the smell and taste of the smokey flesh is heavenly, the sight of the peeled flesh seems to come from the other end of creation and the hot pungent garlic is undoubtably from the earth.


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