Saturday, 18 November 2017
It's been over a week, since my Mum flew back home, and I miss her so. I talk to her every day on the phone, but it's not the same, is it?! I am trying to think positively, and convince myself that with each passing week it means that it's one week closer to the next time we'll see each other.
The truth is, of course, that we never know, if the next time will happen.
My Mum is in her 70s, her health is not getting better. And due to my circumstances, I haven't travelled to Russia for over 13 years. I cannot fathom taking a long flight with our older son who has autism, and is always anxious travelling. Even a relatively short flight to Italy is fraught with anxiety and stress. Airport check-ins and waiting are stressful even for neuro typical people, for autistic people they are extra tough.
I wish my Mum lived closer to us, and we could see each other often. But it's not going to happen. Thousands of miles separate us. Sad, but there is nothing we can do about it.
Whenever she comes, I ask her to cook some Russian food for me - familiar dishes and flavours that take me back home.
We went shopping together recently, and I picked three beautiful aubergines. I should have probably just chosen three purple ones, as the skins are peeled off for the recipe anyway, but they looked so pretty, I couldn't resist.
Aubergine ikra is a Russian answer to a Sicilian caponata. This Southern Russian dish is known as a poor man's caviar. There are many different variations, and even my Mum doesn't stick to one particular recipe. Ingredients might remain the same, but the amounts differ.
Aubergine ikra is something in between a spread, a side dish and a dip. It could be eaten hot or cold. I prefer it cold. I think it gets tastier on the 2nd or even 3rd day, kept in the fridge, when all the flavours merge together and mature.
4 sweet peppers
1 big white onion
tomatoes (mix of 3 big and a handful of cherry)
sunflower oil (about 1/3 bottle)
Mum chops and slices all ingredients first, and fcooks them separately.
Skin the aubergine and chop into small cubes. Add about 70ml sunflower oil to a deep frying pan and fry the aubergine cubes until soft and golden, stirring them frequently, for about 10-15 minutes. Once cooked, place the aubergines in a bowl.
Chop the carrots very thinly and fry with a small amount of oil. Once cooked, add to the bowl with aubergines.
Next chop the onions and saute in oil until soft and translucent.
Fry the sweet peppers, chopped into small pieces. Again, add to the bowl with the other cooked ingredients.
Add the chopped tomatoes to the frying pan and cook for about 5 minutes. Place in a bowl, mix all the ingredients well and return to the pan. Cook it for another 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently. season with sea salt at the very last stage, when all the ingredients are combined.
Before serving add some chopped flat leaf parsley (optional).