I adore stopping by the little fruit and vegetable stands that seem to pop up all over the city. Boxes of fresh pomegranates, cartons of dates or piles of juicy, sweet melons. There is one stand in particular near my house that always has buckets full of fresh kousa, plump purple eggplants, and delicious sweet bell peppers. I feel healthier just looking at them!
Because our traditional diet tends to be a little heavy on meat, I appreciate finding ways to get my family more interested in vegetables. One way I do that is to make a batch of this vegetable medley. I combine these luscious vegetables into a thick, chunky fusion of flavors and serve with crusty bread for scooping. Alternatively, it is wonderful heaped over pasta.
- 1 large eggplant
- 5 kousa
- 1 large red or yellow sweet bell pepper (I like a combination of both)
- 1 can diced tomatoes (Do not drain the juice)
- 1 large onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 handful of cilantro
- 1 tsp cumin
- ¼ tsp. each cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper and chili flakes
- 1 chicken or vegetable maggi
- Olive oil
- 1 small teacup of water
Coarsely chop the onion, eggplant, kousa, and bell pepper, then finely chop the garlic and cilantro. Pour a generous quantity of good quality olive oil into a heavy bottomed cooking pot. (I prefer stainless steel, as this dish uses very little liquid and lightweight aluminum cookware is more likely to allow the vegetables to scorch)
Add the onions to the olive oil and fry over medium heat for 4-5 minutes until they start to soften, then add the garlic and leave for another 1-2 minutes. When the garlic becomes fragrant, add the eggplant, kousa, red or yellow bell pepper, the spices and maggi, and the can of tomatoes. Give the pot a big stir. Add the small teacup of water, then cover with a lid, lower the heat and allow the vegetables to cook for 30-40 minutes until the vegetables are very soft and the flavors have blended. Check occasionally to make sure that there is just enough liquid to keep the vegetables from sticking to the bottom of the pot, but avoid excessive stirring, as this can crush the softened vegetables into a mush.
When finished cooking, taste and adjust for seasoning, adding salt and more black pepper if needed. Serve in beautiful pottery bowls to compliment the rustic look of this earthy dish.