I have officially arrived and settled in my apartment in Beijing. One of my first discoveries was that we only have two gas burners, so when my roommates also want to cook, it can become crowded very easily. The amount of kitchen utensils is also verily limited (two sharp knifes in the entire kitchen, two cutting boards and 5 girls). However, I am focusing on make the most of it!
For this first meal I shopped a lot of foods that were cheap to get; rice, tofu, some discounted eggplant and lemons, and some oil. I also – of course – bought soy sauce, but I didn’t use it for this one. I did bring a spice mix from Holland; called Ras el Hanout. It is originally a Moroccan spice blend, of which the name literally translates to “best of the shop”. The one I use is by Verstegen and contains a mix of curcuma, coriander, paprika, cumin, pepper, ginger, liquorice, cinnamon, cardamom and onion. I think it is one of those spices that can bring any dish to life.
The only kitchen utensil I used that might not be available in every kitchen is a small grater which I brought from home. I brought this especially for grating citrus fruits, to add a bit of zing to my dishes. Using fresh lemon zest brings that bit of freshness to a dish, while not being sour.
This meal is also great for meal preps, so it can be frozen easily and thawed in the microwave!
Alright let’s start cooking!
Ingredients for two people:
- 150-200 g of rice
- 1 tsp. of any oil you like
- One eggplant (around 300 g), chopped into cubes
- Half a tub of tofu (200 g), chopped into cubes
- 1 tbsp. of Ras el Hanout (or a different spice mix to your liking)
- The zest of half a lemon
- 100 mL of coconut milk
- Cook your rice according to package directions, I add double the weight of water, simmer for 10-12 minutes (making sure the rice doesn’t dry and burn!), turn off the heat and let sit for 10-20 minutes
- Heat the oil in a pan and add the cubes of eggplant, stirring to prevent burning
- Add the cubed tofu, this will most likely crumble a bit anyway
- At the last moment before serving, add the Ras el Hanout and the lemon zest, stir for a short while and then add the coconut milk
- Serve in two bowls and enjoy!
Tip: don’t add your spice blend to early on in the cooking, seeing that the limited amount of oil can cause the spices to stick to the pan and burn. The coconut milk will help to deglaze the pan, but you don’t want any burned bits of course 😉