Oct 22, 2012

Funk Factor

**See Ya In the Gumbo potluck can be found HERE

Isn't it interesting that seasonings used heavily in some cuisines are pretty much ignored in others?

Growing up in New Orleans, we used large amounts of filé powder and bay leaves.  Until Rosie, my Saint Bernard, ate the bay tree.

170 miles down the road in Cajun country, these things aren't used so much.  A friend gave me a huge branch from his bay tree.  He had dried the branch and there were handfuls of leaves to be used.  As he handed the branch to me he said, "I know you New Orleans people like your bay leaves."

Our dogs do too.

Is a 3 hour drive really going to introduce you to foreign food?  I guess it just might.  But if we're like this about cooking styles only a day trip away, imagine what we're like with food from thousands of miles away.

My first experience with cumin, once exotic in these parts, was not so great.  It was at a family-run Mexican restaurant when we first moved to Texas.  I walked in and was sucker-punched in the head by the aroma of...
well, I thought someone had seriously funky B. O.

Every now and then a whiff here, a whiff there.  Finally I put it all together and realized the pungency filled  my space as waitstaff passed by.  Were these people really so hot and sweaty?  Did I really want them serving my food?

Being the genius that I am, I thought on it a little more.  Used my finely honed observational skills.  It was the food--mainly the smoking fajitas.

Cumin, which I've come to like very much and use often, has a definite funk factor.

Grilled Eggplant Slices with Yogurt Sauce from Madhur Jaffrey have a huge funk factor from the cumin.    But sometimes it's good to get funky.

Review: The first bite in, we were looking at each other to see who would say something first.  Unsure of whether we liked it or not.  This was an aroma and taste we were unaccustomed to.  The Husband finally said, "This definitely has that funky Indian spice to it."  Hmmm.  Cumin strikes again.  After the first few bites, we warmed up to the eggplant.  It was spicy, but the yogurt helped balance that.  All of the ingredients in the marinade rolled into one big flavor that, while kinda funky, grew on us.  Funk sometimes has a tendency to do that.

The recipe title states "grilled," which to most people in the US means using a BBQ grill.  However the method is broiling.

This week's I Heart Cooking Clubs theme is "Everything's Better With Yogurt"

Also linking with My Meatless Mondays @ My Swet & Savory

Grilled Eggplant Slices with Yogurt Sauce
from "At Home with Madhur Jaffrey"

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp Tabasco sauce
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 Tbsp ground cumin seeds
1 Tbsp garlic, finely chopped
4 Tbsp tomato juice or chopped-up tomatoes
4 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp olive oil

1 large (1 1/4 pound) eggplants

Yogurt Sauce:
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
4-5 mint leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup plain, Greek yogurt

Put all the ingredients for the marinade into the blender and blend until smooth.  Pour into a large bowl.

Cut the eggplant crossways into 1/2" thick, round slices and add to the bowl with the marinade.  Toss to coat slices with the marinade.  Cover and refrigerate overnight, turning the eggplant slices over a few times whenever t is convenient.

Heat the broiler.  Lift the slices out of the bowl, leaving a light coating of the marinade on them, and lay them in a single layer in a broiling tray.  Broil 4-5 inches from the heat for 7-8 minutes per side, moving the slices around so they brown evenly.

Add the salt, cayenne, and mint to the yogurt and mix.

When serving, put a dollop of yogurt on each eggplant slice.


  1. Too funny about the fajitas and funky B.O. This sounds like a wonderful dish ... with great contrast between the cool yogurt and spicy eggplant.

  2. I can certainly see why some would think cumin smells funky but to this born and raised Texan, it smells like comfort food. :) I just picked 5 bee-yoo-ti-ful eggplants from my garden so I think this recipe will be making a last minute appearance on this week's menu plan.

  3. I like cumin. The smell of cumin while cooking is pleasant almost smoky. Your initial experiences with cumin sound like my with ginger. It took relationship building skills before I could make my peace with ginger, and really appreciate and enjoy it.

    Great post.


  4. I have thought of making this but in the end, chicken won! Definitely this is one that I must try! Looks delicious with the dollop of yoghurt on top! Nice pick!

  5. Anonymous10/27/2012

    If I smell cumin I know something good is coming out of the kitchen. But your are right, not used much here in Louisiana. Bet the eggplant was delicious with it.

  6. Funk factor - I love it!
    They look really good, I love cumin.
    Anything I know about Louisiana I learned in True Blood. ;-)

  7. Wow, this is a totally different way of doing eggplant to anything I've tried before - never ever put it in a marinade. I can't wait to try this - I know I'm going to love it.

    I actually love cumin, but funnily enough many years ago I got a bad dose of food poisoning from a local Indian restaurant. And for two years after I could not eat (or even bear the smell of) anything with cumin in it. Thank goodness my body finally got over it :-)


Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your comments.