A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit the family. It wasn't under the best of circumstances, but it made me realize how long it's been since I've seen my extended family and how far away I am from everything I grew up with. There wasn't the same food that normally waits for me, but I was only home for a few days. As luck would have it, on the flight back to Germany, I met a woman who comes from a neighbouring island of my parent's home. We chatted and discovered that we had much in common. She asked me if I cooked traditional Caribbean food, and I said, I try. Do you cook eggplant choka, she asked, to which I said Yes.
It isn't really true. I don't cook eggplant choka. I try to cook it and I don't get it right. I eat it when my mom makes it, when she leaves it unattended on the stove for a few minutes, only for it to be half-gone by the time she returns. And me, of course, I have an unusual lack of appetite. My mom never says a thing, and I think she's come to some bizarre recipe calculation of how much she has to make so there's enough left for dinner.
This evening, I thought of the woman in the plane & I thought of my mom & I realized I really wanted eggplant choka. I called my mom and she walked me through as I made my snack. It was simmilar, but 1) I didn't listen to my mom & I added too much tomato and 2) it's just not the same if I'm legitmately allowed to eat it before dinner.
1 medium eggplant, roasted
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
Slice eggplant open, extract seeds, press out water.
Sautee onions & garlic in olive oil until translucent.
Add tomatoes & cumin and continue cooking over med-low heat until tomatoes fall apart.
Add eggplant and cook until warmed through.
Salt & pepper to taste.
Serve warm, ideally with roti (West-Indian flatbread) or just eat from the stove. It's a snack before dinner, which feels like being at home, but moreover, it was a good chance to talk with my mom.