A rice dish with eggplant, beef and raisins

A long time ago, I left my parents house to study at university in the big city of Amsterdam. My mother gave me a book of recipes as I had already showed signs that I would not be eating pizzas and French fries all the time but actually do some cooking.

In my first student room – a rented room with a family in the Bijlmermeer high-rise area – I built a two-burner bottle-gas kitchen around the sink, using the hot plate of the coffee maker to slowly cook rice. That recipe book from 1981 is still in my collection and one of the dishes I made from it was called Turkish stuffed aubergines (eggplant), that used ground lamb or mutton meat.

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Vegetable Jalfrezi

The other day I made an Indian dish of vegetable Jalfrezi, using ingredients I could find on the market plus some special spices that are also available in some supermarkets as well as in specialised stores. Indian cuisine is not as widely available in France as in Britain and in Paris there is a relatively strong showing by the Pakistani neighbours and the almost ubiquitous Vietnamese and Chinese ‘deli’s’. But for vegetarians, Indian cuisine is a good alternative to France’s rather carnivorous traditions.

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