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Thursday, December 9, 2010

ALCARAVEA, COMINO DE LOS PRADOS WITH PURÉED EGGPLANT RECIPE

Caraway Cheese Ball
Photo by: zanimatelno.com
OCast alcarauea, L. Carum carvi, Ar. kar’wiya.  Fr. carvi, OE care(a)wey, Eng. caraway, carvies, wild cumin, Roman cumin, Persian cumin. Today, it is used to season sausages, soups, sauces and meats. The root is aromatic. Some claimed that it is documented from 4 B.C., making it one of the oldest herbs used in Europe and that it is a native of Caria, Greece. Others refute this stating that it did not grow in Greece where Dioscorides and Pliny wrote and that it must have been confused with another plant but it has been found in remains of meals from the Stone Age in Egyptian tombs and along the Arab caravan route on the Silk Road. It is mentioned in Isaiah 28:27-29 in the Bible where it says that caraway is not threshed but beaten out with a rod. By the 12th C., it was being used medically in Seville as a carminative and aromatic stimulant. It has been administered also as a tonic and diuretic. An ounce of seeds is marinated in one liter of alcohol to make kǖmmel, a homemade drink, which afterward is mixed with sugar syrup. Caraway oil is used in processing aquavit and other alcoholic drinks. The Arabs in Al-Andalus introduced it there and applied caraway water to the skins of black slaves to give it gold tonalities. In cookery it was called carvi. Numerous recipes have been found that include it for its color and flavor. The seeds were added to bread and milk and in special pastries for traditional festivities. It substituted pepper in meat preparations. It was used to purify cabbage and vegetable dishes and added to soups to improve the flavor except when legumes were included. Anon Andalus uses caraway in an eggplant dish and with lamb, fish and chicken. It also gives a recipe for caraway paste which is caraway steeped in vinegar to 'excite the appetite.' Nola calls for caraway seed in two eggplant recipes. Further, in the Middle Ages, it was used as a protection from witches and added to love potions as it was thought to prevent unfaithfulness. It came to signify protection, lust, health, anti-theft and mental powers. See comino, as cumin is sometimes confused with caraway. [Anón/Huici. 1966:74:53:75:54:77:55 etc;  Bremness. 1990:62; Benavides-Barajas. Nueva-Clásica. 1995:66; Curye. 1985:176; ES: Figueroa. “Refranes.” Jan 29, 03; ES: Herbs. Oct 8, 02; Nola. 1989:XXIIII-3:XLI-3; Nola/Iranzo. 1982:167; and Villena/Calero. 2002:23a]

PURÉED EGGPLANT RECIPE ADAPTED FROM NOLA’S xxiiii-3 BERENJENAS ESPESAS 
For 4 persons 

Ingredients

2 eggplants
¼ c salt
4 qts cold tap water
2 onions
3 c mutton broth
1/3 c blanched almonds
3/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
2 egg yolks
¼ tsp coriander
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp caraway
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp cloves

Preparation

Peel eggplants. Cut them into ½” slices. Put them in 4 qts cold water to soak with ¼ c salt for at least three hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Wash them in cold water.  Put them in a pot with 2 c. mutton broth and peeled and sliced onions stirring with a wooden spoon. Blanch almonds and grind them. Blend them with 1 c mutton broth to make almond milk and strain the mixture through a cheese cloth. When the eggplants are almost done, strain them with the onions to discard the excess water. Purée the eggplants and the onions, Return them to the pot and add the almond milk stirring until done. Add ½ c. grated cheese. Beat it in with a whisk, When thoroughly mixed, add egg yolks. Grind the spices together and add them. Mix thoroughly and pour into individual bowls. Sprinkle grated cheese on top and serve.
 

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