This post is dedicated to two incredible ladies. One I would like to think I know well and can say she is the sweetest and extremely interesting person. The other, I did not know until a few weeks ago.
Cynthia of Tastes Like Home is someone I often exchange mails with. We write to each other whenever we miss each other. Sometimes it's like telepathy because it seems like the one or the other always manages to contact the other exactly then when one is thinking of the other. Hope that made sense LOL!
I do not think there are very many people out there who do not know Cynthia. She blogs from the heavenly Barbados and her posts are always filled with the right mixture of spice and nice. I like her sense of humor - she has a way of making me smile or laugh just when I need it the most.
When the lovely Zu of Zlamushka's Spicy Kitchen decided to feature Tastes Like Home in her event Tried & Tested, I knew exactly what I wanted to make. At the beginning of the year Cynthia wrote a great article The Essence of Choka and I instantly fell in love with the variety of chokas displayed in that post.
Choka is referred to the actual method of making the dish. Basically a choka is roasting, pounding and grinding an ingredient till the consistency is just right. My favorite choka in Cynthia's post was the one made of aubergines. Besides the fact that I love aubergines, the idea of roasting and mashing the aubergines for this particular choka was similar to a popular Indian dish called "Baigan Ka Bharta".
I probably served the aubergine choka in the most unconventional of ways and Cynthia is probably having a culture shock, but it tasted damn good. I made a Caribbean style chicken marinated in buttermilk and mango chutney, then grilled on a barbecue. This was served with a spicy guacamole and tortillas. The aubergine choka highlighted the other flavors with it's rustic roasted flavors so perfectly.
Cynthia - thank you for being you and thank you for your wonderful recipes.
I am going to be honest. Until the day Bee of Jugalbandi contacted me, I had no idea who Bri was. Bee told me her story. I was touched and visited her blog Figs with Bri, almost trying to remedy my ignorance of not being aware of such a strong and caring person. Briana was diagnosed with breast cancer two and half years ago. A mastectomy, chemotherapy and two years of good health later, the worst nightmare came true - the cancer is back. It has metastasized to her lungs, her lymph nodes and several areas in her bones and is at Stage IV. At the age of 15, Bri lost her 41-year old mother to the disease. Now, she has chosen to fight the disease with all her might. More about it here.
Bri is focusing on healing and is going through intensive chemo and other treatments. Unfortunately, her health insurance does not cover holistic alternatives which she would like to try. Both Bri and her husband Marc have enough to deal with at the moment in addition to worrying about her medical bills.
The Click team, together with Jugalbandi have organized a special fundraiser with June's edition of CLICK. With the help of many generous bloggers, a spectacular variety of prizes are being offered as part of the fundraiser.
CLICK is a monthly photography workshop hosted by Jugalbandi. This month’s theme is: YELLOW for Bri. Yellow is the color of hope. Through the work of the LiveStrong Foundation, it has also come to signify the fight against cancer.
After viewing the list, you may make your donation HERE. Your donation can be made securely through credit card or Pay Pal and goes directly to Bri’s account.
The deadline for all CLICK entries is June 30, 2008. The fundraiser itself will extend until July 15, 2008.
The target amount that needs to be collected is US $12,000. We appeal to all our fellow bloggers and readers to help us achieve this. Bri deserves a chance to explore all options, even if her insurance company thinks otherwise.
You can support this campaign by donating to the fundraiser, by participating in CLICK and by publicizing this campaign.
I am helping by donating a prize too. My prize is an A4 poster sized picture of any one of the two pictures, Crimson Beetroot and Luscious Figs. So, please get involved and help us fight with Bri - because every little bit counts.
Aubergine Choka by Cynthia of Tastes Like Home
Printable version of recipe here.
1½ pounds eggplant
4 large cloves of garlic, sliced (average 1 clove garlic per eggplant)
Hot pepper to taste, minced
Salt to taste
1 - 2 tablespoons oil
3 green onions sliced thinly (white and green parts)
1 large tomato, fire roasted (optional)'
1 pair tongs
1 table knife
1 food processor or mortar and pestle
1 medium bowl
1. Take a sharp knife and make a number of deep incisions into the eggplants
2. Fill each slit with a slice of garlic (be sure to push it right in)
3. On the open medium-flame of your gas burner or outdoor grill, place the eggplant to roast, turning to ensure that it is roasted and cooked through all over. (You can roast all the eggplants at the same time - 1 on each burner) The cooking time and process would vary depending on the size of the eggplant. The skin should be completely charred, blackened. The tongs are very useful in this step
4. To roast the tomato, place on an open medium-low flame and let roast slowly; turn it to ensure that it’s roasted all around
5. Remove the eggplants and tomatoes from the flames and let cool until you can handle
6. With the help of a table knife, carefully remove the charred skin of the eggplant and tomato. It’s okay if bits of the charred skin are in the mixture, so don’t worry if you do not get it absolutely clean
7. Repeat the process until all the eggplants have been skinned
8. Now this stage you can do this 1 of three ways: with a food processor, in a mortar with pestle or with a fork. In the food processor, add the flesh of the roasted eggplant and tomato and give a couple of whirls. You can let the food processor go for a little longer if you like your choka smooth, some people like it to have a slight chunky texture
9. If you are using a fork, then simply mash the eggplants and tomatoes thoroughly
10. With a mortar and pestle, pound/grind both ingredients to your desired texture
11. In a bowl, combine the whirled/mashed/ground eggplant-tomato mixture, hot pepper, salt to taste, oil and green onions, mixing thoroughly until incorporated
12. Serve with roti or rice
Unlike the Indian distant relative of this dish - the choka is not flavored with too many spices, leaving you to enjoy the whole aroma of delectable roasted aubergines. It's fresh, simple and full of flavor. I roasted the aubergines on a charcoal grill, which added to that gorgeous flavor. This recipe comes highly recommended from me.
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