Thursday, 7 July 2011

All things purple

My daughter had a pair of purple shoes, and those shoes made me realise something. Purple is a colour that sits well with almost everything. Think of any primary colour, then throw in a purple. Green + purple. They clash, in a great kind of way. Red sofa + purple throw. Focal point, there you go! With a blue, an orange, even a brown - purple works. Yes, it’s a bit of a snob, and it refuses to blend in quietly. But that is its raison d’etre. To be the one that didn’t quite match.

I avoided purple for the longest time. It reminded me of Cadbury wrappers, and those don’t look very nice. I also didn’t like aubergines for the longest time; well into my twenties. It didn’t have much going for it. It was purple. Uninteresting. And it made my mouth itch. The last complain, I borrowed from Ma. She had a mild allergy to aubergines, so as a child, I decided I must have it too.

Like the aubergines, and all other things purple, love bloomed late. It caught me by surprise, as most late loves do. Contrary to what I believed, aubergines were incredibly interesting. They could be curried, roasted, char-grilled, mixed with tahini, tossed in oyster sauce, cooked in coconut milk, buried in moussaka. An aubergine combines beautifully with everything. It stands its ground, even with meat. Not blending into oblivion, nor overstating its presence. Just like its colour.

It's summer now, and there's purple everywhere! Here are some of my favourites this year.

Lavender. Heady clumps of purple perfume! I have them growing in our garden next to the rosemary. It's in the soap I bought from the farmer's market. It's in my cupboard, in little gingham pouches. And in my cup of tea this afternoon.

The 'ding dong' flowers. Everyday, we cross these purple bell-shaped wildflowers on our walks. We call them the ding-dong flowers. Chotto-ma stops to give the bells a little shake, says hello to the bees inside, and then we walk on. It's one of our many daily rituals.

Purple pancakes. I found my daughter cooking a very well-balanced meal for her stuffed animals today. Pancakes, tomatoes and green beans. The tomatoes were red, the green beans were green, but the pancakes were purple. Her first purple pancakes, made on the very day that I was writing this post! What are the odds.

And aubergines. Stuffed with minced lamb, pine nuts and feta. If you haven't made friends with an aubergine, do it with this dish. I've come across many variations of this recipe - Lebanese, Greek, Turkish. This is my adaptation, with very moorish spices. 

Aubergine stuffed with minced lamb, pine nuts & feta


2 small aubergines, halved lengthwise
250 gms minced lamb
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2  tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp black pepper
Salt to taste
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 cup chopped parsley
3 tbs pine nuts, roasted
100 gms feta cheese, crumbled

The lamb stuffing:

Heat the olive oil in a pan. Add the onion, garlic and lamb. Saute on high heat for a few minutes till the lamb and onions are slightly brown. Lower the heat.
Add the tomato, cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg, black pepper and salt. Give it a good stir. Cover and cook till the lamb is done. Increase the heat for a couple of minutes to dry up the juices, if there is any. 
Take the lamb off the heat. Stir in the parsley and half of the pine-nuts.Cover and keep aside.The stuffing for your aubergine is ready.

The aubergines:

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/356°F.
Drizzle the halved aubergines with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
Place the aubergines on a baking tray and bake for 25 minutes, till soft.
Take the aubergines out of the oven, and carefully scoop out the flesh. Dice the flesh very coarsely, and mix it with the cooked lamb.
Now fill the aubergine 'shells' with the mix, top with feta and the remaining pine-nuts, and serve.

Serves 4


  1. Purple is a big colour in our house, as it's my 6 year old's absolute favourite. I thought she would grow out of her purple phase and switch back to pink eventually, but no!!

    The aubergine recipe looks lovely, will have to give it a go. Along with butternut squash, it's something that's gradually beginning to creep into the supermarkets over here (DK is very behind on some things!), will have to give it a go!... Emma

  2. My daughter is a purple girl too, emma. Never been keen on pink.

    Here, suddenly the supermarkets seem to have become quite fond of aubergines. And so many other vegetables that are used in indian cooking! Maybe someday, Indian food will mean more than just the curry. Here's hoping! :)

  3. I love the way you write Pia...and what a nice colourful post. Love the lavender...and am so envious that you have some growing, and rosemary too. Both my precious plants died last summer :-(!! I still have to learn to make aubergine; its one veggie I have to conquer!

  4. Thanks Deeba! So happy you enjoyed the read.
    Can't take any credit for the lavender & rosemary though. My garden grows not because of me, but inspite of me! :)


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