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Eggplant yam (Yam makua)

Yam in Thai means "mix" and is generally used as a term for a salad. The term is appropriate as the salad is usually a mix of vegetables and spices.

I was recently on a food tour in Northern Thailand with Naomi and got to appreciate both Yam and the art of slow-pounding spices in a mortar, rather than the lazy blender alternative that I would default to. Pounding the herbs and spices bursts open the cellular structures, rather than cutting through them, releasing more of the fragrance and flavour. The difference is noticeable to me today and using a mortar and pestle is the way I default to today. On a side note, we also learned to use two knives to make ground meats which is both an art form and gives a completely different and better texture to meatballs.

This is a lovely yam. The roasted eggplants are brought alive with the dressing, spicy, tart and sweet. The balance of flavours is carried over beautifully and this is a delicious salad. Although this is a traditional recipe made with Thai long eggplant, I do not see why we cannot use an array of other vegetables, cauliflower, broccoli, beans, yams and root vegetables.

This is a thin cookbook, filled with vegan recipes that are outstanding. Super simple recipes from traditional salads, fried foods, noodles and curries, like this one, make this my go-to cookbook for vegetarian Thai cuisine. Vatch, as he is known, has published several cookbooks, runs some excellent restaurants around the world and teaches Thai cooking at his school.

For more wonderful recipes from this cookbook, click here.


4-5 long thin or small bulb eggplants

Oil spray

4-5 shallots, peeled and left whole

3 garlic cloves

1/2-1 Thai red chilli, or to taste

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon soy sauce

Juice of 1/2 lime

Salt, to taste

1 teaspoon white sesame seeds, lightly toasted

Heat the oven to 375 ° F.

Half the long eggplants, or half or quarter the baby bulb eggplants. Add to a lined baking sheet with the shallots, garlic and chillies and roast for 25-30 minutes till soft and browned well. The chillies, garlic and shallots will be charred and soft in about 4-7 minutes. Remove.

Cool the chillies, shallots, garlic and sugar and add to a mortar. Pound till you have a rough paste. It takes about 3-4 minutes and is better than a blender as you can easily control the roughness of the paste. Add the soy sauce and lime juice and mix in. Taste for a bold dressing with a sharp tartness, mild chilli and sweetness. Adjust the flavours as needed,

Remove the eggplant when they are very soft. Traditionally the eggplant was tossed in the dressing and srved. However, I like to layer the dressing in the centre of a long platter in a line. Add the eggplant to the dressing and sprinkle with sesame seeds. You can also be creative in the presentation on a circular plate.

Serve at room temperature.

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