Did you know that 70 percent of those living on less than $1 a day are female?
Women also are disproportionately affected by war. We’ve all read the horrific stories of women in conflict-torn countries who have been raped, who have lost their husbands, forced from their homes and are left the sole providers for their family.
Zainab Salbi set out to help when she founded Women for Women International in 1993. The organization helps women rebuild their lives. It now operates in eight countries: Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Kosovo, Nigeria, Rwanda and Sudan.
Now comes a remarkable cookbook, “Share: The Cookbook That Celebrates Our Common Humanity” (Kyle). The book, of which I received a review copy, features a collection of recipes from celebrities involved in humanitarian issues, including Paul McCartney, Peter Gabriel, Emma Thompson, Desmond Tutu, Mia Farrow, Ashley Judd, Nelson Mandella, America Ferrera and Christiane Amanpour. The book also includes recipes by renowned chefs who have taken up the cause, including Alice Waters, Jesse Ziff Cool, Greg Higgins, Jamie Oliver, Susan Spicer and Rene Redzepi. Moreover, 16 recipes and stories are included from women in these strife-torn countries, whom the organization has helped.
All proceeds from this beautifully photographed book will support food-training initiatives, as well as provide micro-financing in the countries Women for Women International operates.
The recipes run the gamut from Waters’ lentil salad to Nigerian beef and okra soup to Aung San Suu Kyi’s Burmese tomato fish curry.
With lovely eggplants galore at the farmers market now, I was drawn to the “Eggplant Curry” recipe by Afshan Khan, the CEO of Women for Women.
Made with coconut milk, ginger, garam masala, a dash of chili powder, plenty of cumin and a squeeze of lemon, it’s a creamy, earthy, comforting dish that’s just a little tangy and spicy. It’s made for rice to sop up all the wonderful sauce.
The only deviations I made from the original recipe was to add salt, because none was listed in the ingredients list and I felt it needed some to bring out all the flavors. I also cut each eggplant into smaller pieces, about 12 to 16 compared to 8 called for in the recipe, which I found just too large for easy serving.
It’s a delicious dish, made even more so when you realize its intent to shine a light on the plight of women around the globe.
EVENT: Enjoy a special evening, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 8, to honor the cookbook, “Share: The Cookbook That Celebrates Our Common Humanity.” The reception will take place at the Sub-Zero/Wolf Culinary Events Center, 1755 Rollins Road in Burlingame.
Meet contributing author Jesse Ziff Cool and co-author Lauri Pastrone. You’ll also get a chance to taste recipes from the book while watching cooking demos. Beer and wine from countries represented in the book will be served.
Each guest will take home a signed copy of the cookbook, too.
Tickets are $175 per person.
Baghare Baingan (Eggplant Curry)
(Serves 4 as a side dish)
2 large eggplants, about 1 1/3 pounds
8 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt, to taste
2 large onions, sliced
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 garlic clove, crushed to a paste
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garam masala (see Note)
4 tablespoons coconut cream or 1/2 cup coconut milk
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Rice or hot chapati, to serve
Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise,, then cut each half into 8 to 12 pieces, depending upon the size of your eggplants. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and cook the eggplant in batches for 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown, adding more oil as necessary. Season with salt. Set aside on a plate lined with paper towels.
Return the pan to the heat and add 3 tablespoons of the oil. Add onions and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until softened and brown. Add turmeric, garlic, ginger, chili powder, cumin and garam masala, and cook, stirring 1-2 minutes.
Add coconut cream or coconut milk with 2/3 cup water to make a sauce. Add lemon juice and return eggplant to the pan. Cook on low-medium heat for 5-6 minutes or until oil floats on top or can be seen on the sides of the pan. Add more salt, if necessary. Serve accompanied by rice or hot chapatis.
Note: If garam masala is not available, combine 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and coriander with 2 pinches of nutmeg and 2 ground cloves.
Adapted from Afshan Khan’s recipe in “Share: The Cookbook that Celebrates Our Common Humanity”
Another Eggplant Dish: Eggplant in Garlic Sauce by Cecilia Chiang