Eggplant and cashew nut dip for crudités
I love starting dinner with an exciting crudité platter, it conveys to my guests that the meal will be healthy and the food will be delicious. Vegetable dips are an integral part of any table, they are packed full of flavour and a lovely substitute for the meat-heavy patés and rillettes. However, dips can be a double-edged sword, most commercial dips are packed with emulsifiers and chemicals and taste horrible. In India, they are also loaded with fats, mayo and cream cheese, and sold in the health food section as pretenders. I have a number of dips from around the world on this blog, each healthy and loaded with flavour. This is one of those dips that you need to make often.
This dip is a variation, an upgrade really, of the famed North Indian "bharta" or roasted eggplant. However, this dip is loaded with flavours from the chaat masala and tomatoes. The roasted eggplant adds tremendous creaminess to the dish that pops with tartness and spice. The roasted cashew nuts add both a lovely nuttiness to the dip, as well as, a wonderful bite. You can serve this more traditionally with naan bread, but I prefer the healthier fresh vegetables on this platter.
Vineet Bhatia is a London-born chef and restaurant magnate. He started with his iconic restaurant "Rasoi" in the UK and followed with a second one in Geneva. He has earned 2 Michelin stars for both of his restaurants and is now head of an empire of 11 restaurants around the world. I have dined at Ziya in Mumbai a few times and really enjoyed the flavours and experience. This is a very contemporary Indian cookbook filled with fantastic recipes. Most of the recipes tend to be complex, but occasionally there will be simpler ones, like this one. However, the recipes are wonderful, packed with flavour and beautifully balanced.
For more recipes from this amazing cookbook, click here.
1 large eggplant
olive oil spray
Salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 onion, finely minced
2 tablespoons tomato purée
4 tablespoons cashew nuts, lightly roasted and roughly chopped
2 scallions, finely chopped
1/2 tomato, finely diced
Juice of 1/2 lime + as needed
1 teaspoon chilli powder, or to taste
1 1/2 teaspoon chaat masala
3 tablespoons cilantro, minced
Salt, to taste
To serve, a mix of any of the following vegetables:
Red, yellow or green peppers
Zucchini or yellow squash
Cauliflower or broccoli
To serve, a combination of any 4 vegetables including carrots, radishes, raw beets, cucumbers, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, yellow squash, cherry tomatoes, or as desired.
Preheat the oven to 375° F.
Cut the eggplant into 6-8 wedges longitudinally. Spray with olive oil and sprinkle on the salt and pepper. Roast for 30-35 minutes till the eggplant is browned and very soft. Remove and cool.
While the eggplant is roasting, add the oil to a small frying pan and sauté the onions till they are a deep golden. Add the tomato purée and cook till the tomato is thickened and the oils are poling on the surface. Cool.
Scrape the eggplant flesh from the skins and mince finely with a knife. It should be very soft and smooth. Mix in the fried onion-tomato paste and all other ingredients. taste for salt, spice and tartness. The purée should have a bold flavour and be lovely. Chill for at least 3 hours.
To serve, bring up to room temperature. Serve with the vegetables arranged on a platter.