Ratatouille is the gustatory embodiment of everything that I believe cooking should be. I love that it combines all the flavors of a single season in one colorful stew. I love that it's simple and healthy. But most of all, I love the way four innocuous veggies can come together and form something absolutely magical. It's also one of those dishes that has no recipe and depending who you ask, they'll give you a different rendition and tell you that theirs is the proper way to make it.
Just because there's no official recipe doesn't mean it can't be made wrong though. I've seen it show up all too often in buffet lines as an insipid watery mush or a crunchy medley of flavorless raw veggies. So what should ratatouille taste like you ask? A good ratatouille should have a glossy appetizing sheen with a bright, sweet, flavor that bursts with umami with each juicy bite.
You could get fancy and arrange mandolined slices like Remy in in the eponymous movie, but I love the simplicity of just tossing a bunch of chopped veggies into a pot and stirring. Touiller means "to toss" after all.
I took the French classic and gave it an Indian spin with ginger, garam masala and cilantro taking the place of basil, herbes de provence and parsley. Somewhere between a baingan bharta and a ratatouille, I imagine I'll have purists from both camps flinging rotten tomatoes at me.
If you're still reading, enjoy this with some naan, paratha, or a crusty baguette. It can be served as a vegetarian main course, but I like serving it as a side for a meat dish.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 5 cloves
- 4 large cloves garlic (grated)
- 1 inch knob ginger (grated)
- 2 small onions (diced)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt (halve if using regular salt)
- 1 - 2 serrano chilies seeded and minced
- 1 red bell pepper (chopped)
- 2 small zucchini (cubed)
- 1 small eggplant (cut into ½" cubes)
- 4 medium tomatoes (chopped)
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- Heat the oil in a pot over medium high heat until hot, then add the cumin, black mustard, and cloves. Fry the spices until they start to pop (be careful, the hot oil will spatter).
- When the spices are popping and fragrant, add the garlic and ginger, stir frying until very fragrant (about 1 minute).
- Add the onions, serrano chilies, and salt and fry over medium heat until the are translucent and starting to turn brown (20-30 minutes).
- Add the bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, garam masala and turmeric and stir to combine. Turn the heat down to medium low, cover and cook for 20 minutes covered.
- Temove the lid and cook for another 10 minutes uncovered, or until the mixture is thickend to the texture you want.
Very yummy! That is the kind of combination I adore. I make my ratatouille with Ras-El-Hanout and sometimes with curry...
A bit of bitter melon in this would be tasty too. I love Indian food (natch, I'm Indian after all), and the spices are especially tasty in the fall and winter. Maybe that's just because I associate Indian food with comfort food.
the lacquer spoon says
I've never thought about yellow ratatouille, woow! Utterly delish 🙂
Yay for curry!!
And by the way, I've just found you and am loving your blog's tag line! I love to just toss stuff together too, even though half the time it doesn't come out right!!
I like the Indian-flavored spin. I generally go the way of caponata and it's always different. Sometimes it's strictly vegetarian, sometimes there's a little anchovy or crumbled sausage -- and the one spice I always use fennel seed. It's my favorite.
oh my, Indian flavours? I like this a lot! Definitely will chow this down quick with hot naan bread.
Anything that awakes my senses, this is it! I will have spoonfuls of it into pita bread and chomp! Definitely made Remy's tongue and tail wagging...:-D Thanks for sharing.
PS. Don't forget a large jug of Hot Cardamom Tea!
Totally agree with your comments on ratatouille... it's so easy to make right, so how can some people get it so wrong??
That being said, your version, while perhaps not traditional, looks awesome. No complaints from me!
Marc, your Ratatouille is gorgeous looking! You are so right about combining all of the fresh flavors of a single season in this flavorful & colorful stew! I'm so sad to see summer end, but we can hold on to it by enjoying your Ratatouille!! 🙂
Please excuse my ignorance but what is Ras-El-Hanut?
Marc Matsumoto says
It's a north african blend of spices, you can read more about it by searching Google or heading to Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ras_el_hanout
John Brewer says
Cook onions for 20 - 30 minutes? Ain't nobody got time for that.
How much oil, please? The quantity is not listed in the recipe! Also, when to add chiles - listed in ingredient list but not in recipe directions...
Marc Matsumoto says
Hi Barbara, sorry about that, it looks like the oil got lost in one of our moves. I've added it back in.
Thanks. The other part of my question was at what point to add the chiles?
Marc Matsumoto says
Updated, sorry about that!