The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Friday, 12 December 2008

Onion and Eggplant Yoghurt Dip (or how to turn a flop into a success)

On Tuesday, Zak and I were invited to the JLH Tokyo Mums' Christmas party, and we were to each bring something to share for lunch. I figured everyone would be bringing relatively unhealthy food since it was for a party, so I thought that bringing a veg dip with vege sticks would be good and healthy finger food. The other mums loved the dip, and they weren't just praising for my sake in front of me because most of them didn't know it was mine.

So why the flop? Well, the original dip was meant to be a Roasted Eggplant Dip, but it didn't turn out very well perhaps because I didn't have all the right ingredients, or perhaps because it was eggplant which tend to be one of those things you either love or hate. For one thing, I used Japanese nasu, which is one of the Japanese eggplant types (there are a few variants to choose from) and I'm not sure how it's different to the eggplant usually used in dips because I have never used eggplants in my cooking before (Rob dislikes eggplants). I also didn't have tahini in my pantry, but figured I could use sesame oil in place of the tahini and olive oil. Anyway, I really didn't like the resulting dip (the texture was soggy and the taste was really lacking as eggplants usually are) so I started making an onion and yoghurt dip instead. While I was cooking the onion in the pan, I felt it would be a shame to throw away all that effort gone into the eggplant dip, so I chucked the eggplant 'dip' into the pan with the onion and pan-fried for a couple of minutes until it was dry. After the onion and eggplant had cooled, I put them in some yoghurt, seasoned with some salt and pepper, and voila! it actually tasted good! One of the mums was very surprised to learn that I used nasu and yoghurt.

I didn't bother taking a photo since dips are not photogenic. But here's a photo of 8 week old Zak meeting Santa for the first time - never mind that Santa was female and Japanese, and that Zak was asleep!

Onion & Eggplant Yoghurt Dip

Eggplants (I used 3 small ones, total ~300g)
2 cloves garlic, skin on
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup plain yoghurt
salt and pepper to taste

1. Roast the eggplants and garlic in an oven at 200degC for 30 minutes or until eggplant is soft. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.
2. Cut eggplants in half lengthways, scoop out the flesh onto a chopping board and roughly chop. Transfer to a bowl.
3. Squeeze the flesh from garlic into the bowl of mashed eggplant, add 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and mash to combine everything.
4. Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in a fry pan and cook the onion over medium-low heat until softened and slightly caramelised (about 5 minutes).
5. Add the eggplant mixture into the pan with the onion, and cook for a couple of minutes until the resulting mixture is dry. Set aside to cool.
6. Place the onion-eggplant mixture and the plain yoghurt in an airtight container, and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
7. Refrigerate until ready to serve, and serve with vegetable sticks like carrot, celery and capsicum.

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