A Tasty Trip With Jaffrey

Madhur Jaffrey first learned to cook through an old-fashioned correspondence course, letters back and forth to her mother in India. That was 40 years ago when Jaffrey couldn't even make tea.

Today, she is the author of 14 cookbooks, including her latest, Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian. She visited The Early Show to show culinary creations from around the globe.

World Vegetarian is her first global cookbook. Her others, for the most part, have been Indian and East Asian. While it is her second vegetarian cookbook, her first focused on Asian food. (Jaffrey herself is not a vegetarian.)

Jaffrey is also an actress, having studied on a scholarship at London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. This fall, she is featured in four movies: Cotton Mary, a Merchant/Ivory film which she also co-directed; Flawless with Robert De Niro, and two other independent films by young Indian-Americans.


Eggplant With Minty Tomato Sauce
(serves 3 to 4)


1 1/4 pounds eggplant (the large variety)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup peanut or canola oil
1 medium onion, very finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and very finely chopped
8 plum tomatoes from a can, finely chopped, plus a 1/4 cup of the can liquid
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
freshly ground black pepper

You also need:

1/2 cup plain yogurt
Peanut or canola oil for deep-frying
Extra mint sprigs or leaves for garnishing

1. Trim the very ends of the eggplant and cut it crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices. Put the slices in a single layer in a large platter or lasagna-type dish. Sprinkle the salt over both sides, rubbing it in well. Set aside for one hour.

2. Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Put the oil in a large, nonstick frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the onion. Stir and fry for two to three minutes, or until the onion pieces begin to brown at the edges. Put in the garlic. Stir for a few seconds. Now put in the tomatoes and their liquid as well as all the remaining ingredients for the tomato sauce. Stir to mix. Cover, turn the heat to low, and cook gently for 10 minutes. Set aside in a warm place.

3. Make the yogurt sauce. Put the yogurt in a small bowl and beat lightly with a fork.

4. Just before you sit down to eat, put oil to a depth of 2 to 3 inches for deep-frying in a wok or deep fryer and set over medium heat. Take the eggplant slices from the platter and dry them off well with paper towels.

5. When the oil is hot, drop in as many slices as the utensil will hold easily and fry, turning now and then, for six to seven minutes, or until both sides are a medium brown color. Drain well on paper towels. Do a second batch, if needed.

6. To serve, arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on a large platter. Top each sice with a dollop of tomato sauce and then with a tablespoon of the yogurt. Garnish with mint sprigs or leaves. Serve immediately.

Sakina El Alaoui's
Sweet Potatoes with Raisins and Cinnamon (Morocco)

(serves 3 to 4)

Patates Douces
This heavenly dish, with its caramelized onions and plump raisins, may be served with dark greens, rice, and any dish of beans or split peas. It also offers a unique possibility at Thanksgiving time for those looking for variations on the theme of candied sweet potatoes.

Some people like to sprinkle a generous pinch of ground cinnamon over the top before serving.

5 tablespoons olive oil
1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick
1 medium onion (6 ounces), peeled, cut in half lengthwise and crosswise into very fine half rings
3 medium sweet potatoes (18 ounces), peeled and cut into chunky slices, about 1-inch thick by 1-inch wide by 1 1/2 inches long.
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3 tablespoons golden raisins
1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne
1 to 2 teaspoons sugar

Put the oil in a wide sauté pan or large frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the cinnamon stick and the onion.

Sauté for about 3 minutes, or until the onion has lost much of its water. Add the sweet potatoes and stir. Continue to sauté another 6 to 7 minutes, or until the onion begins to turn light brown and the sweet potatoes have also picked up a little color. Add 3/4 cup of water, the salt, ginger, raisins, cayenne, and sugar. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low, cover, and cook gently for 7 to 9 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender. There should be almost no liquid left in the pan, except for a little oil. (If there is, uncover and boil the liquid off.) Serve hot.

Shamsi Davis'
Persian Pilaf with Lime and Green Beans (Iran)

(serves 4)

Persian Pilaf

Lubia Polo
This is one of the best vegetarian pilafs I have ever eaten. It comes to the table almost like a cake, a slightly collapsed cake, but still very cakelike. The top, all reddish-gold and encrusted, consists of a layer of sliced potatoes, now all beautifully crisp. Below it is a layer of white rice. Below that is a layer of green beans stewed with shallots and tomatoes that have been flavored with the highly aromatic Persian dried limes and with cinnamon. There follow more layers of rice and green beans.

Persian dried limes are a world unto themselves. Once you have discovered them, you will wonder how you ever lived without them. When you buy them, they are ahard as rocks, feel hollow, and look quite unprepossessing. You need to hit them with a well-aimed mallet so they break into 3 to 4 pieces. The insides are blackish and just as unprepossessing as the outsides. You need to pull or scrape the insides out and collect them in a bowl, making sure you discard the bitter seeds. Now grind the black gold that you have collected in a clean coffee grinder and store it in a jar. Do just 2 to 3 limes at a time. If all this sounds arduous, it isn't. It took me less than 5 minutes to do 2 limes, which was more than I needed, but you need to do that amount to make the grinder run properly. Besides, you could always use fresh lime juice as a substitute.

It is best to do the final cooking of the rice in a nonstick pan. A 3-quart size is ideal. If you double the recipe-and I often do for parties-double the size of the pan and the ingredients. The cooking times remain the same.

This rice is such a favorite that I cook it for family dinners and for entertaining.

2 cups basmati rice, picked over, washed, and drained
1/4 cup peanut or canola oil
2 to 3 large shallots (3 ounces), peeled and finely chopped (red onion may be substituted)
2 cups (8 ounces) green beans (dwarf or French beans), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon tomato paste
3 plum or any other smallish tomatoes (about 5 to 6 ounces), peeled, seeded, and finely chopped (canned tomatoes may be used)
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground dried lime (see above) or
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons butter
Generous pinch of ground turmeric
1 large boiling potato

Soak the rice for 30 minutes in lukewarm water that covers it generously. Drain.

While the rice is soaking, put the oil in a medium pan and set over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the shallots. Stir and fry for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the shallots are lightly browned. Put in the green beans and stir them around for 3 minutes. Now add the tomato paste and tomatoes as well as 3 tablespoons of water (or liquid from the can of tomatoes), 1/4 tsp cinnamon, and 3/4 tsp salt. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cover, turn the heat down to low, and simmer gently for 12 to 13 minutes, or until the beans are tender. Add the lime and stir to mix. Set aside.

Put 10 cups of water into a large pot and bring to a rolling boil. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons salt and mix in. Scatter the rice into the boiling water and bring to a boil again. Boil rapidly for 5 1/2 minutes or until the rice is almost done but still has a very slim hard core in its very center. (To test remove a grain and press it between the fingers.) Drain the rice immediately and leave in a sieve or colander.

Put the butter in a nonstick pan and set it over low heat. Add 2 tablespoons of water and the turmeric. Peel the potato and cut it crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick rounds. Lay a round in the center of the pan. Surround it with the other rounds until you have no more space left. You can cu some of the rounds if needed to almost cover the bottom. A few blank spaces are fine. As soon as all the butter has melted, divide the rice into 3 parts and spread one part over the potatoes. Top this rice with half of the green beans, spreading them out evenly. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp cinnamon over the beans. Spread the second part of the rice over the beans. Top this rice with the remaining beans, once again spreading them out and sprinkling 1/4 tsp cinnamon over them. Cover the beans with the final layer of rice. Cover the pot and turn the heat to medium-high. After 4 minutes, turn the heat down to medium-low. After another 4 minutes, lift the cover and quickly drape a dish towel over its underside and then put it back on the pan. (The towel will be between the pan and the lid.) Flip the ends of the towel on top of the lid so they do not burn. Turn the heat down to very low and cook 30 minutes.

To serve, have a large, warm serving plate ready. Remove the cover and slide a knife along the inside of the pan to loosen the rice. Put the serving plate on top of the pan of rice. Now upturn it and invert its contents, rice and crust, onto your serving plate. The "cake" will crumble a little, spreading out at the bottom, but this is as it should be. Serve immediately. Cut the crust as you serve

Alternatively, empty just the rice into the serving plate, scooping it out gently with a slotted spoon. Now remove the crust from the pan and, with a knife or a pair of kitchen scissors, cut it into even wedges. You may arrange the wedges, crusty browned side up, around the rice or put them on a separate plate.

Simple Pumpkin Soup
(serves 4 to 5

For this dish, hubbard or butternut squash may be used instead of pumpkin. The stock I used here was very lightly salted, so you may need to adjust the salt accordingly.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion (4 ounces), peeled and finely chopped
3 thinnish slices of fresh ginger
1 medium potato (4 ounces), peeled and coarsely diced
1 1/4 pounds pumpkin flesh, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 cups vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
1 1/4 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup milk
1 to 2 tablespoons finely sliced fresh chives for garnishing (optional)

Put the oil in a large pot and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the onion and ginger. Stir and fry for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the onion bits just begin to turn brown at the edges. Turn the heat to medium and sauté for another 2 minutes, or until the onions are light brown. Put in the potato and pumpkin pieces and stir once or twice. Now put in the stock, bay leaves, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover, lower the heat, and simmer gently for 45 minutes. Remove the ginger slices and the bay leaves. In several batches, blend the soup to a smooth puree in a blender. Return the soup to the pot in which it had been cooking, add the milk, and stir to mix. Reheat if necessary and garnish with chives, idesired.

Variation I:
Pumpkin Soup with Fresh Curry Leaves

After the oil has heated, throw 8 to 10 fresh curry leaves into the oil. Stir once and put in the onion and ginger. After the onion has turned light brown, put in 1 tablespoon curry powder. Stir once or twice and put in the potato and pumpkin. Now proceed with the recipe.

Fennel and Orange Salad

Fennel and Orange Salad (Morocco)
(serves 4)

This light, cleansing salad comes from a land where oranges have superb flavor and texture and where most salads are served at the start of a meal, almost as appetizers. I, on the other hand, like to serve this salad at the end of the meal, almost in lieu of dessert. It is a great refresher with an unimaginably rejuvenating taste.

This salad can last in the refrigerator for 24 hours. In fact, its flavor improves.

The best ground cinnamon is that which you grind yourself. Use a coffee grinder to do the job.

2 fresh medium fennel bulbs, cut crosswise into paper-thin rounds, enough to fill a 2-cup measure
2 navel oranges, peeled and cut into skinless segments
6 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

Put all the ingredients in a bowl, toss well, and refrigerate, covered, for 30 to 60 minutes. Drain lightly before serving.