One thing I enjoyed during my three month stay in Istanbul this past Summer was picking up new Middle Eastern inspired recipes and cuisine from the ingredients that were available at our local market. The majority of produce in season and sold at our local market were large and succulent figs (I probably binged on figs every day since I could buy 16 BIG ones for $3.00! In Chicago a box of 6 will cost you around $12- ridiculous!) , cherries, eggplant, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, and peaches. Needless to say I had to get creative with my recipes!
There is definitely a difference in the produce of other parts of the world vs. America. Local farms and gardens bring fresh foods to small family run markets almost two times a week, and everything is always organic. One dish that I made constantly while I was overseas was a strange little mixture of eggplant, tomatoes, and middle eastern seasonings. Now that I am home I modified it with some chickpeas and Greek Yogurt, and it is nearly perfection!
The secret ingredient? Cinnamon.
- 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed.
- 1 egg plant cut into cubes
- 5 vine tomatoes cut into cubes
- 1 cup of Greek yogurt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp each of curry cumin and thyme
- 1 sprig of fresh mint chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 white onion chopped
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- Chop the onion and garlic, sautee in a pan coated with coconut oil until translucent.
- Chop the tomatoes, and add to the sauteing pan.
- Cook for about 3 minutes, then add about 2 heaping spoonfuls of Greek yogurt.
- Add the mint and seasonings, and stir.
- After 3 more minutes, add the eggplant and chickpeas, and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Add a pinch more of cinnamon and curry, and cook for 3 more minutes.
- Serve with a topping of Greek yogurt, and garnish with mint.
I usually eat this with a Mediterranean salad made of cucumber, red pepper, and feta cheese. Or with a side of chicken stewed in onion and cinnamon, if you are a poultry lover!