Celebrating The Modern “Tiffin!”
As promised, my “52 In 22” cooking challenge is heading around the world to explore other cultures and their unique recipes!
Thanks to acclaimed Chef Priyanka Naik, I am making an “on-the-go vegan dish with a global flair!”
Here’s Chef enjoying a “Spinach-stuffed Eggplant Roll with Mint-Walnut Crunch!”
She was a Guest on “The Kelly Clarkson Show” and I loved her passion for traditional Indian flavors…but before we cook, let’s answer one question first:
“What’s A Tiffin?”
Well, check out the cover of the cookbook again. A traditional Indian “Tiffin” box is a set of stackable Aluminum boxes with a carry-handle, and you put separate dishes in each container – like individual portions of meat and vegetable curry dishes, bread, rice and something sweet as well!
It’s a meal that you can literally carry with you by the handle!
I gravitated to this recipe for two reasons: one, Chef Naik fell in love with it in Greece, and my wife Alex and I were there last summer.
John Vs. The Eggplant!
It’s not a film, but it is a vegetable I DO NOT EAT – the texture is simply not for me.
So why did I cook with it? Because this “52 In 22” challenge is designed to make me see food differently – so let’s see how I see this!
Here’s Your “Tiffin” Recipe Line-Up!
Here are the ingredients needed to make this dish – with the dreaded Eggplant front and slightly left-of-center.
You begin by making the “Mint-Parsley Sauce”:
In a food processor, pulse together 2 bunches of Mint (about 2 cups) and the same amount of fresh parsley, along with a dried red chili, and a pinch of salt and pepper – easy:
Add the juice of a quarter lemon and a tablespoon of olive oil, and give it another quick puree – and done!
It should have the texture of a chiimichurri sauce – set aside so the flavors can blend.
Next up, time to make the stuffed Eggplant filling:
Next up, let’s make our spice mix.
1/2 teaspoon each of cumin, coriander and red chili power – and a pinch of nutmeg. After blending, toss them into a pan with a teaspoon of olive oil and bring them to sizzling life for 30 seconds.
Then, dice one half of a white onion and several cloves of garlic…toss them into the pan with the spices and cook for 3-4 minutes…
Chop two cups of baby spinach and toss it into the pan and sauté until the spinach has softened and the whole mixture feels soft and ready for stuffing!
At this point, I have made the filling and the sauce…so now it was time to meet up with that Eggplant!
I will say it again: I just don’t like Eggplant. And I think it knows it, because the next step in the cooking process was a bit of a comic disaster!
Chef Naik says it’s time to prepare the Eggplant, so place a rack on a sheet pain and cut your Eggplant into 8-10 slices lengthwise…easy, right?
Let me show you what happened next:
After butchering the Eggplant, I managed to get 8 slices and I salted them on both sides and let them sit for ten minutes to release the bitterness.
Then, rinse them and dry with a paper towel, put a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan, it it medium hot and put your slices in!
I will make a confession: the Eggplant looked really good with tat bit of crispy carmelization, and they smelled good too!
So, let’s make a “Spinach-Stuffed Eggplant Rollup!” I filmed the entire sequence to show you how easy it all came together!
Well, that was easy!
Here it is again – start with a bit of filling on the end of the Eggplant slice, and just roll it up!
Once rolled, just add a dollop of your mint-parsley sauce and sprinkle some chopped walnuts over the top – delicious!
Bravo Chef Naik!
I want to thank the Chef and her terrific cookbook for curing me of my Eggplant hatred.
This dish was really delicious, healthy, and it looks beautiful on the plate as well!
They were easy to pick up by hand, and she says they pack very well in a Tiffin to take out on a picnic or hike – I loved them, and understand that they would be delicious after a few hours at room temperature as well!
This is week six of my cooking challenge.
Here is the stack of the first ten cookbooks for my “52 In 22” challenge.
As you can see, Chef Naik’s terrific cookbook was nestled just underneath Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles cookbook:
I tackled his “Bacon-Wrapped Porn Tenderloin With Garlic Confit” – and you can see how I did by clicking on my story here:
Above Chef Bourdain’s book sat Rao’s, a legendary restaurant in Harlem…I am cooking from it next week!
Will it be different than this?
My first foray into Italian food was with the help of The Sopranos – click here to see a traditional Italian “Sunday Gravy” recipe!
One of my disastrous efforts was when I tried to make Chef Michael Ruhlman’s “Mollet Egg”:
Is this the way it was supposed to turn out – and can you really bread an egg while cupping it in your hand?
Click here for the answers!
Also, for all of you foodies, I am saving all of the “52 In 22” recipes right here:
“Bite! Eat! Repeat!” is filled with recipes and so much more – please sign up to follow along here:
If you enjoy this series, please share on social media – and let me know who you think won this epic battle: me or the eggplant?