The sweet-sour taste of tamarind, commonly found in many Indian and South Asian dishes, adds an interesting, but not overpowering, twist to this French dish. It brought out many characteristics that I didn’t catch in the individual vegetables earlier: the caramelization of the eggplant, the freshness of the zucchini, the woodsy scent of the thyme.
For the tamarind chutney, I used Geeta’s brand (http://geetasfoods.com/products/tamarind-chutney-320g/), but you could also make your own (https://food52.com/recipes...).
This is an amazing dish to make ahead as it only gets better as it sits! —Jane Katz
Japanese eggplants, cut into 1/2-inch dice
plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
small Vidalia onions, diced
cloves of garlic, minced
pinch of chili flakes
bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch dice
zucchini or squash, cut into 1/2-inch dice
ripe tomatoes, diced
tamarind chutney, diluted with 2 tablespoons water
Toss eggplant with a hefty sprinkle (about 1 teaspoon) of salt in a colander and let it sit for 30 minutes. Then pour it out into a large bowl lined with paper towels. press and squeeze most of the liquid out of the eggplant.
Add a generous glug (about 2 tablespoons) of olive oil to a large pan and sauté eggplant until deeply golden, about 10 minutes. When done, remove and set aside.
Add 2 tablespoons oil, then sauté onions on a medium heat until translucent, about 7 minutes. Add garlic, chili flakes, and half of the basil. Add a generous pinch of salt.
Add peppers and squash, cooking for 10 minutes until they start to brown. Add tomatoes, and another tablespoon of oil. Taste for salt and add pepper. Add more salt if necessary.
Cook this mixture for 10 minutes, then add back eggplant and diluted tamarind chutney. Toss and taste.
Add more salt/spice if your ratatouille needs more of a kick. Add more tamarind chutney if you want it to be more pungent. Add more basil if you feel like it. Cook for another 8-10 minutes.
Top with remaining basil leaves, and serve warm (preferably with a nice crusty bread, and a glass of wine).