Monday, July 27, 2009
SRI LANKAN SALAD MOJU
Thank god I have something to blog about. Finally. I was getting a little desperate and was considering taking pictures of my cat.
This is a dish where I had scrutinized the tv, furrowed my eyebrows and pricked my ears up just to get at that little bit of ingredient that I kept missing on AFC because some people were having a cross fire discussion on either side of me, quite loudly, or someone called out for me at that very crucial moment, quite loudly, or the surat khabar lama man (old newspaper collecting man) announced himself, quite loudly.
And what made it totally weird was that it each happened at the exact moment that particular ingredient was being thrown in and mentioned by the Sri Lankan chef while Bobby Chin chatted into his ear, quite loudly, which blurred out the word of the ingredient that he was mentioning anyway.
Finally though after watching the show once again (again) (thank God for reruns) I finally caught the word. And it was just a spoonful of plain old sugar...
Then I became puzzled by the word moju......I just had to know what it meant. This is a brinjal moju, then there is also the fish moju. I googled but I couldn't find the meaning for the word anywhere. Feeling a little frustrated I finally requested my son to enquire the meaning from his Sri Lankan friend and it turns out that moju simply means pickle or something like a pickle. And that makes sense because this dish uses vinegar and is sort of picklish in flavour.
The ingredients that went in made this dish very enticing. There were so many flavours folded in. It has cinnamon, garlic, ginger, a fruit pickle, pepper, vinegar, fried dried anchovies (ikan bilis)and mustard seed paste. The last was a very intriguing ingredient because I have never used pounded mustard seeds before.
Although sauteed mustard seeds taste pleasantly nutty with an almost groundnut flavour, roasted/sauteed and pounded mustard seeds however gave off such an unexpected and astonishing albeit familiar aroma that it took me quite by surprise and it was quite a while before I could place my finger on that very familiar smell. Finally after taking it all in I realized that it had the exact same aroma as dry fried grated coconut which had then been pounded to a paste. Exactly.
I then tasted it and it was simply good. I loved it. I couldn't wait to get to the end of this dish because it looked terribly appetizing and saliva inducing.
So here's the recipe.....
4 small brinjals
3-4 whole green chillies
5-6 shallots peeled and left whole
2 pips garlic, peeled
1 inch ginger, skinned
1/2 inch cinnamon
ground black pepper
1/2 tsp tumeric powder
1 tsp sugar
1 or 2 tbsp of mango chutney (or other fruit chutney)
1 -2 tsp rice vinegar (I used apple cider) or you clould use tamarind juice (yum)
2 tbsp or sauteed mustard seeds pounded to a paste
a handful of dried anchovies fried to a crisp (optional)
Pound garlic, ginger and cinnamon bark in a pestle and mortar using some salt as an abrasive.
In a medium bowl put in the ginger/garlic paste, add tumeric powder, some ground black pepper mango chutney, vinegar and the lovely mustard seed paste. Mix tehm all around and add some pepper or cayenne pepper if you like to spice it up.
Cut the brinjals into thickish strips (very much like chunky fries) and deep fry the brinjals, shallots and whole chillies in hot oild briefly just until the brinjals turn light brown. Drain
of excess oil and put them into the bowl of dressing.Add the fried anchovies and mix them up like you would salad. Adjust flavours by adding a little more salt,vinegar or chutney to your taste. Serve. YUMMM