A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of sitting down to a lovely dinner at Sufi’s Atlanta with a wonderful group of foodies. One of the appetizers that we noshed on was Sufi’s Special, sauteed eggplant with onion, garlic, chick peas in a slightly spicy chili sauce. It was probably one of my favorite dishes of the meal.
I know a lot of people who “don’t like eggplant.” But I feel that it’s one of those vegetables that can take on a lot of different flavors, especially when cooked well. I prefer Asian eggplants over the common kind. Chinese and Japanese eggplants are sweeter and have less seeds, but the texture is pretty much the same as common eggplants and cooking methods can be similar as well.
We have a little Chinese eggplant plant in our backyard, he lives in a big pot by our patio. I decided to plant one this year simply because the plant is just so pretty to look at, and it’s a pretty hardy plant… I tend to forget that I have a garden sometimes and the poor plants can go a while without getting a drink of water. Which can be pretty devastating in this crazy Georgia heat. For this recipe I went to the store and picked up a couple of Chinese eggplants, the eggplants on our plant weren’t ripe enough to be picked just yet.
The only other thing that I have in our garden this year is basil. I love basil. I have found that basil is also a fairly easy plant to grow and seems to forgive me if I forget to water for a few days. One of the little basil plants now lives on our kitchen windowsill. I have this cute little pot, so it only made sense to get some good use out of it.
I enjoyed the food, especially the appetizers, at Sufi’s so much… I am giving away two coupon cards that I received for a free appetizer at Sufi’s. So, if you’re in the Atlanta, Georgia area or are planning to visit… this is for you!
To enter, just comment on this blog post and tell me what else on that Creative Loafing 100 Things to Eat list you’re just dying to try. You have until June 29, 11:59pm EST to enter. Two winners will be randomly selected from the entries, and I will announce the results on the blog on June 30. Good luck!
Now for my eggplant dip, inspired by Sufi’s Special, a bit more tomato like and with a slight Asian twist!
1 medium Chinese eggplant, cut into small chunks
1 yellow onion, diced
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 cloves minced fresh garlic
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon hot chili paste
1 Roma tomato, diced
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes
1/2 tablespoon basil, chopped
1/3 cup chickpeas
Heat the olive oil in a large pan or wok, add the ginger and onions and saute for about a minute, then add the eggplant, soy sauce and chili paste and saute for another 2 minutes. Add the tomato and basil, then saute for another minute.
Put the mixture in a food processor, and slightly blend. So that there are still some chucks of eggplant, tomato and onion visible. Put the mixture back into the wok, and add the chickpeas. Mix everything well, and let heat for about 2 minutes.
Place into a serving dish and garnish with additional basil if desired. Serve with warm pita bread and enjoy!
Update: Congrats to Tristen (#1) and Kristen (#6) for winning a Sufi’s gift card each! Numbers were generated by random.org