Indian Ratatouille

  • 2 cups diced onions
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 fresh chile, minced (seeded for a milder hot)
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • generous pinch of crumbled saffron
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 5 cups cubed eggplant (1-inch cubes)
  • 4 cups cubed zucchini, yellow squash, and/or pattypans
  • 1 1/2 cups diced bell peppers
  • 3 cups diced fresh or canned tomatoes (28-ounce can, undrained)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

This intriguing twist on a summertime classic combines Indian spices with Mediterranean flavors. A mini food processor works really well for chopping the garlic, chile, and ginger root. Since all of the dried spices go into the dish at the same time, you can just measure them into a small bowl and set them aside until needed.

Serve the ratatouille on rice or orzo or accompanied by a crusty loaf of bread. If you like, add a dollop of plain yogurt to each serving and top with fresh basil and a few toasted almonds or pistachios.

In a stew pot, sauté the onions in the oil on medium heat until translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chile, ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, salt, and saffron and sauté for a minute, stirring constantly. Add the orange juice and eggplant, toss to coat with the spices, cover, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the eggplant is barely tender.

Add the squash, bell peppers, tomatoes, and basil. Cover and continue to simmer about 15 minutes, until all of the vegetables are tender. Add a little more orange juice or water if necessary to prevent sticking.

Serve hot or at room temperature.