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- 1 small / medium sized eggplant
- 4 tablespoons Ras el Hanout (Middle Eastern & North African blend of herbs and spices)
- 1 cup long-grain brown rice, rinsed
- 1 shallot, chopped fine
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, toasted and crushed
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground clove
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 fennel bulb, with fronds
- 1/4 cup chicken broth / stock
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- For roasted eggplant, chop eggplant into cubes and season with salt and pepper. Add olive oil and Ras al Hanout; combine well. Roast for 30 - 40 minutes. Immediately season with salt to taste when out of oven.
- For rice, heat olive oil in non stick pan on medium heat. Add shallot, bay leaf, garlic and ground fennel seeds (toast on stove in cast iron skillet and when fragrant, crush in coffee grinder or use mortar & pestle) and saute for 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and then add rice. Increase heat to medium high.
- After a minute, add turmeric, cinnamon, and clove and combine well. Continue cooking rice for approximately 5 minutes on medium / medium high heat. Slowly add water and salt, and when simmering, cover, lower heat, to medium low, and cook for additional 15 minutes or until water has been completely absorbed.
- While eggplant and rice are cooking, go ahead and prepare the braised fennel. Cut off and discard stalks from fennel bulbs, reserving fronds. Cut bulb in half, down the middle. Cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices, leaving core intact.
- Heat olive oil in skillet over moderately high heat until hot. Add cut fennel pieces and brown, turning over once, approximately 3-4 minutes total. Add salt and pepper. Add enough chicken broth until fennel is about 75% submerged. Cover and cook until liquid has evaporated, approximately 12 minutes.
- You can plate this dish any way you like. I placed the rice on top of a piece of fennel, and put a spoon of eggplant off to the side. I added another fennel piece and garnished with a fennel frond. Enjoy!
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A genius dinner party: part 2
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