Day 10 in the 2016 VeganMoFo: Fusion Food – Take two cuisines and make them work together.
These are two different takes on the Italian classic ratatouille which is an old favourite of mine since my Mum introduced me to it in the 1970’s. She used to alarm my school friends by saying “Do you want to stay for tea? We are having rats!”
It’s quite easy to adapt ratatouille to have a Moroccan flavour about it; just substitute the Italian herbs for Moroccan spices, apricots, almond and olives. Oh yes, and some lemon and coriander (cilantro). I was going to add chick peas to make it a more substantial dish but opted for butter beans instead as I didn’t have any chick peas in the cupboard – a most unusual state of affairs!
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 courgette (zucchini), chopped
- ½ aubergine (eggplant), chopped
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp ras el hanout (a lovely Moroccan blend of spices – the name means ‘top of the shelf’)
- Handful of dried apricots, halved
- Small handful of almond, blanched and peeled (toasted if you can be bothered!)
- ½ can of tomatoes
- ½ a lemon, sliced
- 1 can butter beans
- Handful of black olives
- Coriander (cilantro) to garnish
For the cous cous:
- 1 ½ cups cous cous (I prefer the wholegrain type)
- 2 ¾ water
- 3 tsp harissa sauce (I like Belazu Rose Harissa)
Lightly fry all the chopped vegetables together with the garlic and spices until they begin to soften. Add the rest of the ingredients except the butter beans and olives (and coriander) and cook on a low heat for 30 minutes. Take care to stir occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick, add some water if it needs it. Add the butter beans and olives and cook for a further five minutes while you make the cous cous.
Put the cous cous in a glass bowl and pour the boiling water onto it. Stir and cover for five minutes. After that, fluff the cous cous up with a fork and stir in the harissa.
Serve the cous cous and ratatouille piping hot and garnish with a generous pinch of chopped coriander. Then light a joss stick, settle down and pretend you are in a cafe just off the Jamaa el Fna, the square and market place in Marrakesh’s medina quarter. Well it’s cheaper than flying to Marrakech!
Alternatively, you can turn this old family favourite into an entirely different baked Indian-style dish just by adding potatoes, squash, different spices and pumpkin seeds. This version was adapted from one by Yotam Ottolenghi. It’s quite a simple dish but the potatoes might take a bit of cooking depending on which type you use. Cut all of the veg to the same size with the exception of the potatoes – cut these a bit smaller so the rest of the veg don’t go too mushy while they are cooking!
- Small splash vegetable or soya oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 medium potatoes (Charlotte or other ‘new’ types), cubed
- ½ butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 1 small aubergine, cubed
- 1 large courgette, chopped
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 4 large black cardamom pods, cracked open to release the flavour
- 1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 2 tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds
- 1 can chick peas (optional), drained
- 1 large handful fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped
Heat the oven to 180°C. In a large pan, fry the onion, potatoes and squash until beginning to colour. Then add the aubergine, courgette and pepper and cook for a further five minutes. Then add the cardamom pods, chilli and spices and cook until just beginning to stick. Add the tomatoes and stir in well. Transfer to a baking dish and bake in the oven for 30 mins. Add some water if necessary to prevent drying out. 10 minutes before it is cooked, stir in a can of chick peas and sprinkle the pumpkin seeds over it. When cooked through garnish with fresh coriander and serve with warm chapattis.