While on holidays recently, we watched “Ratatouille” and “Wreck-it Ralph” (yes, there were children in the group). The latter film had us all humming “Sugar Rush! Suuuu-gar Rush!” the next day, whereas “Ratatouille” just made me want to cook. Apparently what Remy makes is actually a confit byaldi. Thomas Keller was the food consultant for the film. Anyway, eggplant was 80 cents at our fruttivendolo ( they have a quite decent cheap section with slightly bruised items), the tomatoes smelled so good, and I really fancied something hearty, vegetarian but not Italian. We had some baharat I wanted to try (spice blend with black pepper, cumin seeds, paprika, nutmeg, cinnamon…..) So Turkish-flavoured ratatouille it was (with apologies to anyone French, or Turkish…..)
Cinnamon and cumin-scented ratatouille with chickpeas
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baharat, optional
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 cloves garlic
Handful fresh parsley
One medium aubergine
A few stalks of celery
800 g tomatoes (fresh or good tinned ones)
2 tsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp sugar
One tin chickpeas, drained
Cup of water, if needed
Two generous handfuls raisins or sultanas
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Pinch of chili flakes, optional
Chop the onions, and fry them gently in the oil. Add the spices. It will smell lovely and fragrant now. Add chopped garlic, celery, chopped aubergine, sliced zucchini and chopped parsley. Stir now and then while cooking on medium heat. Chop the tomatoes and stir them in. Add a cup or so of water if it looks a bit dry. Have a taste. If serving with rice, start that now. Add salt, pepper, sugar and tomato paste, and chili flakes. Drain and rinse chickpeas, and stir though.
Now, have another taste: what do you think? Does the sauce need more of anything? If so, adjust as you wish (salt, tomato paste, whatever you like best). Toss in raisins. Turn off the heat, and go have an iced drink while you cool off and wait for the rice to finish. I added some handfuls of uncooked lentils to the rice before cooking, which gave extra texture.
Notes: this was hearty and spicy, with lots of flavour. Normally I am slightly suspicious of any dish with more than ten ingredients, but this just evolved as I was cooking and tasting. You could use whatever vegetable combination you like, really. Makes quite a few generous portions, and the leftovers are good for lunch boxes as it can be enjoyed at room temperature as well.