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food photography

Persian Roasted Eggplant Walnut Dip“As while other passions in your life may, at some point, begin to bank their fires, the shared happiness of good homemade food can last as long as we do.”
Jenni Ferrari-Adler

Persian Roasted Eggplant Walnut Dip is perhaps the yummiest dip I have made in a while. From an out and out eggplant hater, to one who got sold over a smokey roasted eggplant {or brinjal or ‘baingan’ as referred to here locally} one fine day, the journey was uneventful. There are some things I just will not touch with a barge-pole. Eggplant was one of those. For a long time. Until 3 years ago.

Persian Roasted Eggplant  Walnut DipThen one day I tasted a Baingan ka Bharta made by a lady who used to cook at my mothers. The flavours had me captivated, and her style of cooking this quintessential Indian vegetarian dish had me smitten. Garlicky, smokey, earthy, firey was what she presented on the table that memorable day. One bite down, and I chased her for the recipe. Simple as ever, it was a game changer for me. Then came a dip I tasted at Ruchira’s place more recently. Sold again!Persian Roasted Eggplant Walnut DipThis Persian Roasted Eggplant Walnut Dip is inspired by both the recipes. The twice used garlic from the bharta, and the creaminess from the dip. Can there ever be too much garlic? For me, no. I love it with a vengeance, and here the roasted garlic pods with eggplant bit gives the dip subtle undertones. The caramelised sweet onions and garlic add more depth to the flavour. I love adding walnuts to dip so in they went, while the Greek yogurt adds the right creaminess that the dip demands. All in all it has a lot to offer. Go ahead and add some roasted paprika to it if you like, maybe some pomegranate pearls to give it a juicy pop of flavour and colour. Persian Roasted Eggplant & Walnut DipIn the blender and smooth, this barely takes time and is a great make ahead party option. It also doubles up as a useful ‘sauce‘ for wraps, or a sandwich spread if you like. I served the Persian Roasted Eggplant Walnut Dip with these equally earthy Rosemary Garlic Sesame Millet Crackers I made recently. The more garlicky, the better! And of course, since the dip was ready and sitting there, I decided to experiment with it for a few pictures.Persian Roasted Eggplant Walnut DipJust different backgrounds, angles, light, what have you! Some work, some don’t, but the important thing is to keep experimenting. Darter & yours truly have announced our next Food Styling & Photography Workshop  in Delhi this September, our 5th one here, so it’s always fun to experiment and share ideas. Food Styling and Photography Workshop Sep 2016I tell the participants to try and shoot everyday, to constantly experiment with different backgrounds, angles, light and moods. I do just the same.

Food props, Food styling, Food Photography

Food props, Food styling, Food Photography, Flatlay, World Photography DayEveryday. With whatever I have on hand. If I haven’t baked or cooked something ‘image worthy’, then I just grab raw produce, knick-knacks or props from an earlier shoot, things lying on my desk, stuff I like, then shoot them in frame. It’s a huge learning process, and therapeutic too. The important thing is to experiment, to keep your mind open. I can never say that enough!

And that’s how I got to this delicious Persian Roasted Eggplant Walnut Dip too, with an open mind!

Persian Roasted Eggplant Walnut Dip ... earthy, smokey, moorish, delicious!
Print Recipe
This Persian Roasted Eggplant Walnut Dip has a lot to offer. The twice used garlic, the walnuts, then the creaminess from Greek yogurt make it endearing. The caramelised sweet onions and garlic add more depth to the flavour. Play around with ingredients to suit your palette. That's the beauty of dips.
Servings Prep Time
2-4 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2-4 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Persian Roasted Eggplant Walnut Dip ... earthy, smokey, moorish, delicious!
Print Recipe
This Persian Roasted Eggplant Walnut Dip has a lot to offer. The twice used garlic, the walnuts, then the creaminess from Greek yogurt make it endearing. The caramelised sweet onions and garlic add more depth to the flavour. Play around with ingredients to suit your palette. That's the beauty of dips.
Servings Prep Time
2-4 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2-4 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Ingredients
Roasted eggplant walnut dip
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Cut 1/2" slits into sides of eggplant and push in 4 cloves of unpeeled garlic. Roast over low flame {or under broiler} until charred {like for baingan ka bharta.} Leave covered in a bowl to cool.
  2. Remove garlic and press out roasted pods. Discard skin. peel off charred skin of eggplant. Chop roughly. {Can be done a day or so in advance}
  3. While the eggplant is cooling, heat ghee in heavy bottom pan and caramelise onions and garlic.
  4. Place in cooled eggplant with with caramelised onions & garlic and remaining ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Stir in chopped chives. Taste and adjust seasoning. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and keep for a couple of hours/overnight for flavours to mature. Top with chopped walnuts and chives.
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The Masala Dabba #3“Each spice has a special day to it. For turmeric it is Sunday, when light drips fat and butter-colored into the bins to be soaked up glowing, when you pray to the nine planets for love and luck.”
The Mistress of Spices

The Masala Dabba #3. We enter month #3 of our collaborative spice journey exploring or rather ‘shooting’ spices, a fun interaction with DolphiaSimi,  Meeta and me. The spices we cover for The Masala Dabba #3 are cardamom, whole pepper and turmeric. I think I love the spice journey best. March is synonymous with Spring, new beginnings and a whole lot of colour. Thandai This March also had holi, the festival of colour, which inspired me to shoot several times through the month. I did a fun version of Thandai for KitchenAid, one you can play around with endlessly. The recipe included a bit of pepper and cardamom.Thandai for HoliI’m just a little badly organised, procrastinate a lot, so I didn’t get down to editing the images for The Masala Dabba #3. Now I’m rushing to post on the last day of the month!TurmericWinter in North India means a lot of fresh turmeric root, and the colour it yields when it hits the grinding stone is amazing. Ground fresh turmeric makes for a fabulous turmeric milk. You can find the recipe for warm soothing turmeric milk on Dolphia’s blog.Turmeric RootOur recent trip to Banaras actually brought alive and to the forefront the Indian love for spices and everything colourful.Banaras 2016The play of spices ruled the roost. And if there are spices, can colour be far behind? Do read about Banaras and it’s beautiful culture if you find a moment. We had the most fun time ever!

Banaras 2016March was a busy month. I haven’t been blogging too much, but I made a mean Gajar ka halwa, Rich Indian Carrot Pudding adapted from Delectable Platter. The Indian dessert, delicately laced with green cardamom, was absolutely delicious. Green cardamom is an interesting spice and works equally well in savoury and sweet recipes. I use it a lot in kormas, a delicate Awadhi lamb/chicken curry.

Gajar ka halwa, Rich Indian Carrot PuddingNot so much black cardamom. It’s a larger, more robust almost rustic spice, and you would often find it in a lamb curry or as part of garam masala, a baghar/tadka/tempering maybe, also in rice pulao. I haven’t ever heard of it in a sweet preparation ever. Have you?

The Masala Dabba #3

Kormas, curries, pulaos and garam masalas also use a lot of whole back pepper. The Thandai interestingly had some too. There are several colours in whole pepper, though the black is most widely available, and perhaps the cheapest. There is a controversial pink pepper, actually they are dried berries I hear, and it is said to be toxic. However, it is used often in the West. I use it sometimes to sprinkle over wholegrain bread, very sparingly, just for visual appeal.Pink Pepper Rosemary BreadAnd that pretty much covers the spices for March. Spices are addictive to shoot. I can’t barely wait for time to shoot in April. All I know is that it’s going to be another colourful and fun month!The Masala Dabba #3

The Masala Dabba #3

The Masala Dabba #3The other Spice Girls have been amazing with their spices this month.
Do stop by Story of Cooks and Turmeric n Spice. Meeta has yet to blog spices this month.

Don’t miss a post
Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

The Masala Dabba #2“He who controls the spice controls the universe.”
Frank Herbert

The Masala Dabba #2. February 2016. It’s strange how often we connect spices to savoury foods, often in India spice is synonymous with a curry! Delightfully enough, as we blog on, reading more, breaking new ground and exploring our palettes, ingredients take on new meaning. For instance, there is always so much more you can do with spices, enough to make them leap out of the masala dabba or spice box!!

The Masala Dabba #2Yes I’m back with the second version of our collaborative spice journey with exploring or rather ‘shooting’ spices, a fun interaction called by the ever sweet Dolphia, seconded enthusiastically by my soul sister Simi and yours truly. We’ve collected a new spice girl along the way. Meeta joins us this month as we delve into the fascinating world of spices. It’s only about styling and shooting spices, yet for me, the inspiration often goes a step further. It’s impossible to just shoot spices without following my nose to the simmering pot, hence a recipe is born now and then!

Gur Panna Cotta With Candied WalnutsIt began with shooting spices, and eventually turned into a winter inspiration. I desserted with spice! The three found their way into this absolutely smooth and delicious Gur Panna Cotta With Candied Walnuts. Talk about flavours that compliment each other! If panna cotta is not divine enough on it’s own, this version turned out to be sublime, a recipe I contributed for my column on askme.wellness.com.Sangria MocktailI couldn’t just stop there so I then drank or sangriad with it! The Sangria Mocktail was great fun to shoot. You could go down the red wine way with this of course. I mean, after all a recipe is often a springboard for further creativity. Sangria Mocktail With cinnamon it’s difficult not to think of warming, comforting wafts of sweetness in the air. I plan on making bite sized cinnabons some day soon. They really call my name. I think the mini dessert trend happening now, along with my recent spice overdrive, might well be the culprit!The Masala Dabba / Indian Spice Box #2Our spices of choice for the first month to challenge us – Cinnamon + Cloves + Star Anise. Three spices, cinnamon I use often, cloves a little rarely, and star anise possibly never. While I love how star anise looks, one of the prettiest spices ever, the flavours are often overbearing. Yet, surprise, surprise. Spiced Strawberry Wine JamI used star anise in a the trio of spices to make a Spiced Strawberry Wine Jam for this Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau and I was rewarded with beautiful lilting flavours. As I begin to use star anise more often, or rather infuse it, keeping it at a minimum, the gentle undertones are rather endearing.

Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau, Big Banyan Wines

The Masala Dabba #2Cinnamon
The inner bark of a tropical evergreen tree, harvested during the rainy season when pliable and then dried into curls sold as sticks or ground into a powder.With its warm, sweet flavor, cinnamon is one of the biggest workhorses on the spice shelf. Cooks often use it to flavor baked goods and drinks, but cinnamon also works wonders in stews and sauces.
Matches: apples, berries, chicken, chocolate, coffee, custards, fruit, lamb, oranges, pears, rice

The Masala Dabba #2Cloves
Native to Indonesia, cloves are small nailed shaped flower buds that are dried and have a sweet, somewhat penetrating flavor. They can be bought whole or ground. Ground cloves are commonly used in baking.
Matches: apples, beets, game, ham, lamb, pumpkin, sausage, tea, tomatoes, walnuts, wine

The Masala Dabba #2Star Anise
A star-shaped, dark brown pod that contains a pea-size seed in each of its eight segments. Native to China, star anise comes from a small evergreen tree. It’s flavor is slightly more bitter than that of regular anise seed. Asian cooks use star anise to give a licorice flavor to savory dishes, particularly those with pork and poultry.
Matches: duck, eggs, fish, leeks, pastry, pears, pork, poultry, pumpkin, shrimp.

The Masala Dabba #2Do stop by our other spice girls as well as we share this charming journey from one month to the next! Hope you enjoy it as much as we are.

Dolphia @ Story of Cooks
Simi @ Turmeric & Spice who has a spicy giveaway this month
Meeta @ Whats For Lunch Honey

Don’t miss a post
Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

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